Twentieth Century Books

Equal Rites

Women can be wizards, right? Well, not according to the Wizard Lore of the Discworld, as bowed down to by the wizards of the Unseen University, they can’t. And Granny Weatherwax, witch of the Ramtops, agrees. Women who want to play with magic can be become witches, and men wizards, but men can’t be witches and women can’t be wizards.

There are several ways to become a wizard, one of which is to be the eighth son of an eighth son. Another way is to be gifted the wizard’s staff of a dying wizard. Drum Billet, a dying wizard, goes to Bad Ass, where an eighth child is about to be born.

Shortly before he dies, the newborn clutches the staff in chubby pink fingers.

The child, though, is a girl, one Eskarina (Esk for short). The staff has accepted her (and she it) and Drum Billet has been met by Death. A female wizard has been created. Oops.

I enjoyed Equal Rites more than the last couple of Discworld novels I’ve read. I liked Esk, who is about eight for most of the story, and is the sort of eight-year-old who asks lots of questions. And then asks ‘Why?’. As long as I’m not on the receiving end of such questions, I quite like a child who asks them.

I read something by Terry Pratchett once about how he didn’t think much of his early books and people really should read the later ones first. So far, I’ve found I enjoy the earlier ones more. Each to their own, I suppose.

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