‘They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it is not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.’
Everybody knows there’s no such thing as a female wizard. So when the wizard Drum Billet accidentally passes on his staff of power to an eighth daughter of an eighth son, a girl called Eskarina (Esk, for short), the misogynistic world of wizardry wants nothing to do with her.
Thankfully Granny Weatherwax, the Discworld’s most famous witch, has plenty of experience ignoring the status quo. With Granny’s help, Esk sneaks her way into the magical Unseen University and befriends apprentice wizard Simon.
But power is unpredictable, and these bright young students soon find themselves in a whole new dimension of trouble. Let the battle of the sexes begin . . .
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Transworld Digital (Kindle version)
Series: Discworld #3, Witches #1
Release Date: 24 November 2009 (Kindle)
My Rating of ‘Equal Rites’: 4 out of 5
I’m currently steaming through my whirlwind reading tour of the Discworld and, much like the books that came before it, I really enjoyed this one. I don’t think it was stunning, but it was certainly a great, enjoyable read that introduced some characters I feel may be big parts of the world going forward.
The blurb leads you to believe that Esk is the main character in this book and, to a degree that’s fairly accurate. I just felt like Pratchett had way more fun with Granny Weatherwax as she certainly steals the show. I do like Esk and how fiery and unflinching she is for so young a child. Her solid child logic applied to grown-up situations is enjoyable as well.
Considering when this book was originally published, it’s fairly forward thinking. Back in the days of women being told they had a lesser role in the world, Pratchett was out there deciding that wasn’t how he wanted things to be for little Esk and the other females in his book. the overall flavour is very much one of strong women who don’t put up with any flack from their blustery male counterparts.
My only real drawback for Equal Rites was that it felt a bit slow and ponderous in parts. The Light Fantastic had a pretty high-pace throughout so I suppose it’s more a me thing that I just expected this to be of a similar vein. Regardless of that, it was still a very good read.
In this, Pratchett did an excellent job of showcasing his dark scene setting only to lighten it up with the character interactions and general joviality of the Discworld. It gives the impression of a world in general that would be pretty cool to visit, yet equally worrying to stay in for too long.
I’m glad I decided to give this series another try. My twenty-year old self disliked Discworld immensely. My thirty-four year old self is just happy he has some easy-going, light-hearted goodness to dive into after a hard day at work. I think, for me at least, one of the main allures of Discworld is how easy it is to pick up and put down. Pratchett really was onto a winner with his writing style and zaney worldbuilding.