Sunday, 24 January 2010
A broom of one's own
Equal Rites is the third book, chronologically anyway, in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series - I don't believe these books need to be read in order. I'm doing so because if I don't, I'll lose track of what I've already read. I've had to create an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the Wodehouse, after all.
I am in the middle of three other books and should have spent my reading time this weekend on them, but yesterday I felt quite ill and wanted something very cozy and silly to get me through. Happily, Pratchett was exactly the right choice. An easier read ne'er there was nor could be than Equal Rites, and 'twas was most enjoyable.
This third installment tells the story of young Eskarina Smith who, as the result of an administration error of sorts, becomes destined to be the Discworld's first ever female wizard. Before she can even be accepted for training in the "boys only" Unseen University, however, she must somehow prove that she's worthy of the exception being made. Walking right in and declaring herself gets her laughed out onto the street, so she finds a way in through both literal and figurative back doors by disguising herself as a maid and her wizard's staff as a broom...and after a great deal of magical duelling and hi jinx and offended proprieties and "Oh I say, really"s, Esk (with the help of Granny Weatherwax, her witchy tutor) breaks the glass ceiling and Unseen University has to change its plumbing so girls may be admitted on a trial basis.
I have told you a great deal about the plot but don't worry; in my experience, Pratchett novels don't require at all the element of surprise to be enjoyable. Like Wodehouse novels, the joy of Pratchett's work is in how the tell is told, not of what the tale is told. Pratchett's a clever one, he is.
And now back to the solemnity and stress of Zola's La Bête Humaine...which to me is reading like a French version of a mash up of Crime and Punishment and Anna Karenina. Weird? Kind of, yes.