“Equal Rites” – Terry Pratchett

Title: Equal Rites
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publication date: 1987
Publisher: Corgi (paperback)
Pages: 283

Being a wizard has its drawbacks, but there are also certain advantages. One of those is that a magician knows when he’ll die. The old wizard Drum Billet is no exception, and before he dies he has just one more thing to do – pass his own staff to a newborn wizard, an eight son of an eight son. He travels to the small village of Bad Ass to find the baby that will inherit his powers and quickly passes the staff before Death takes him.

There’s just one small problem – the new child is a girl. To you it may not sound like a problem, but on the flat and magical Discworld it certainly is. Girls aren’t supposed to be wizards. Men are wizard, women are witches. It’s an unwritten rule that has never been broken. Until now. But it’s too late, Esk has inherited the magical powers.

7 years pass. Esk is sent to the local witch, Granny Weatherwax, where she is supposed to learn to control her magical powers and become a witch – a profession that’s acceptable for women. But Granny soon discovers the growing magical powers in Esk – wizard power, something unfamiliar to the old witch. She gives Esk the staff that belongs to her and they set off to the city of Ankh – Morpork where they can find the Unseen University – the only place where Esk can learn to be a wizard.

This is the basic plot of Pratchett’s third book in the D series. Although it may sound weird, Pratchett delivers something far better than the first two books. He uses the theme of emancipation and gender differences and he puts it in an interesting plot, with exceptional character. Not to mention his writing style – it’s in one word, superb.

There are many things that make this book special. One of them are the characters. Esk is a fresh character, and she never bores us: she’s ready to face the whole world with her curiousness, bare inteligence and wit, exceptional for her age.  She often doesn’t understand the world and the way people think, and she is always ready to listen Granny’s explanations. Seeing the whole story through her eyes gives this book something special and makes you wonder about the clichés and stereotypes of our own world.

The other major character is Granny Weatherwax. She is just brilliant! She is incredibly funny, wise, and as a reader you could learn many things from her. Maybe you won’t agree with some things she thinks, but her life philosophy is really interesting: she does everything her own way and makes every single page with her enjoyable to read. As I said she is also wise, the things she says to Esk contain many life-thruths and you can’t help it but respect Granny for her personality.

The combination of these two characters is thrown into an adventure that’s typical for Pratchett. It’s all extraordinary entertaining; and while the two heroines face this adventure, the reader faces the stereotypes of women and men (wizards and witches). The themes aren’t compulsive; they go well with the plot and the characters and you can’t help but to judge your own opinionand your way of thinking. Esk’s emancipation is new, her view is different from other characters, and there’s also Granny, who goes on her own quest of discovering new things and emancipating, and at the end, she proves to be right about many things. Other theme’s in this book include sex and adolescence: they are shown in rather funny passages with Esk wondering about some things she heard or saw (as usual).

But what makes this book really sublime is Mr Pratchett’s writing style. He has it all! Sometimes this book will have you rolling on the floor and laughing, and sometimes it will have you thinking and wondering about people’s minds and the world. And it never bores, it won’t let you stop with reading; Pratchett succeeds in telling us things that we thought we already knew. But actually he shows us a new way to see the wolrd, something that keeps coming back in other Discworld books even in a greater extent.

The only disadvantage of this book is the (suprisingly) weak ending. This story is about Esk, and it should have ended with her saying what she’s learned of the whole experience and what she wants to do from now on… But Esk’s ending isn’t as strong as the rest of the book. Granny’s story in the end of this book is much more enjoyable, funny, wise, interesting: in all aspects it beats Esk’s. And at the end there’s almost no Esk, instead it’s all about Granny. Of course, it is fun to read about the witch, but as a reader you do want to know what happens with Esk.

In conclusion, this book is a real masterpiece (not that we expect something else from Pratchett). The characters, the plot and the theme match really well, the story stays enjoyable till the last page. And in spite of the weak ending, Pratchett does something to us, the readers: he makes us wonder about life and about the way we see things. And any author that can do this, may consider himself a genius.

Raiting: 8,5/10

(Thank you for reading, I LOVE Terry Pratchett and his Discworld, something you may have already noticed. I am happy with criticism, but I would also like your opinion about the book.)