Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sir Terry Pratchett Reading Challenge - Equal Rites

Now that I've finally finished the Tiffany Aching series, I'm on to other Discworld books. And because of I Shall Wear Midnight, I had the urge to re-read Equal Rites, staring Esk, the first and only female Wizard.

Equal Rites (notice the pun on the word rights?) is simply a very entertaining book on discrimination. In Discworld, everything (w.r.t. magic) is divided into two categories - witches and wizards. However, when a um, a mistaken wizard passes his staff (and I suppose by extension his power) to Esk, who isn't the 8th son of an 8th son but a girl, this simple division is turned topsy-turvy. The truth can't be denied (sorry Granny Weatherwax!) and Esk has to try to gain admission into Unseen University, which unfortunately is a boys-only place (Except for cooks and cleaning ladies).

So, basically, this is one of the few books that combine two of my favourite groups of people - the Unseen University and Granny and friends. Unfortunately, this is before Ridicully's reign, I mean tenure as Arch-chancellor so I "missed" out the opportunity of seeing how he and Granny would have interacted. But really, it is very entertaining.

I quite like how the book deals with the topic of discrimination. There isn't any huge marches and whatnot (Esk is only 9 after all), and even Granny doesn't want Esk to be a Wizard. It seems to be saying that there's no point in trying to break down any walls for its own sake, but rather, to break down the walls if it hinders you from being you. When you think about it, it's quite an interesting take on the subject.

And on to the subject of the characters. I loved Esk! She's so precocious and the mingling of absentmindedness (well, a sort of distracted focus anyway) was naturally done. I wish I was like her (wait, am I? I can't tell).

On the other hand, Granny didn't seem much like Granny. I'm used to seeing her being very sure of herself, but here she has some doubts. It's not like her getting lost, but something more concrete. I guess it's good that she appears more fallible, but I had more fun reading about her when she knew everything and couldn't be shaken.

Anyway, I just checked and this is apparently the third book in the series. Wow that's early! That explains a lot of things. While I still hold that you can read the books in any order, the characterisation in this case means it makes more sense to read this before you have set expectations about how certain characters behave. And I really still want more books featuring Esk(:

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