Here’s another one I read a while back and have waited too long to chat about.
It’s the fourteenth novel in the Discworld fantasy series, which takes place on a flat world that lies atop the backs of four elephants that stand on the shell of large turtle floating through space.
Discworld, book 14
Witches, book 4
It’s Midsummer Night – no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there’s more than one reality at play, too much dreaming can make the walls between them come tumbling down.
Unfortunately, there’s usually a damned good reason for there being walls between them in the first place – to keep things out. Things who want to make mischief and play havoc with the natural order.
Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven of witches are up against real elves. And they’re spectacularly nasty creatures. Even in a world of dwarves, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers – and the odd orang-utan – this is going to cause trouble… (Goodreads)
I was hoping that the wonderful reading experience I had with Witches Abroad would signal an increase in enjoyment with each Witches book I read, but unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Lords and Ladies as much as I thought I would. Lords and Ladies is the fourth novel in the Witches subseries of the Discworld fantasy series. It picks up after the Ramtop witches — Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick — return from traveling abroad to Genua to stop a wedding. Now that they are back home, they realize that several things are out of whack.
King Verence, he that was once a fool, has already started planning his wedding to Magrat without consulting her, which upsets Magrat, and there’s an odd feeling in the air. Crop circles are popping up which means imminent danger from beings Granny and Nanny would rather not think of and instead refer to as lords and ladies. Because of their caginess in explaining this, Magrat gets frustrated and leaves the coven deciding to forego being a witch. In addition to all that, the leader of a new batch of young witches challenge Granny, parallel universes converging causes Granny to sometimes forget herself and suspect her end is near, a beau from the past pops up, and a play inspired by Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is worked in.
Well. That wasn’t the best recap I could have done, but it avoids many spoilers (I think) and shows that I remember more than I thought. Although I didn’t enjoy this as much as Witches Abroad, it was still a fun read and I was entertained by the humor and the characters.
What I strongly recall is that I was a bored for parts of it. I’ve since forgotten why. And I was deeply annoyed by Granny, but I think that’s because I sympathized with Magrat at being frustrated with both Granny and Nanny at times; most often Granny, who can be harsh and impatient with Magrat.
“What they like to get from us is our fear. What they want from us most of all is our belief.”
I liked how the elves were included and that the story touches on the trickiness of the fey folk but pumps it up by making them all psychopaths out to hurt and kill humans purely for their entertainment. I really didn’t expect Magrat to react as she did when she encountered the elves. I expected her to be in denial about their true nature for a long time.
Other than these small things, what stuck out to me the most was Granny’s experiences with different dimensions converging. She is so sensitive to it (I wonder if it’s because she entered that mirror world in Witches Abroad) that she sometimes catches glimpses of her other selves and even feels and experiences for a time what those selves are doing. It makes her lose track of herself in her dimension, which becomes more dangerous and frustrating to Granny as the situation with the elves becomes more dire.
“Just when she needed all her self reliance, she couldn’t rely on her mind.”
Granny’s experiences made me wonder at what point in Pratchett’s life was this book written since Granny’s experiences, struggling to hold on to her mind and her memories and the present, could be said to be similar to a person’s struggle with Alzheimer’s, and it’s well known that Pratchett had the disease. Seeing Granny struggle with this was affecting to me for personal reasons so I was quite worried about how her story would end, especially since she felt as if she will die soon. So… I was also a little on edge while reading this.
And as always with these Witches books, I wish I was more familiar with Shakespeare’s plays in order to really understand the references to them. It won’t take away from your enjoyment of the books if you know nothing about Shakespeare, but I think being more familiar with his work would have enhanced my reading experience with these books.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ ½
It was a good read just not to the point of enjoyment that I was expecting.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
I highly recommend the series.
Quotes from the book
“In the beginning, there was nothing, which exploded.”
“Death sighed. Metaphors were wasted on people. Sometimes he felt that no-one took him seriously enough.”
“History always has a great weight of inertia.”
“Personal’s not the same as important. People just think it is.”
“A wizard’s only a priest without a god and a damp handshake.”