“Equal Rites” by Terry Pratchett

I finally learn why one of my favorite bloggers is an Orangutan Librarian.

“Now you listen to me, Gordo Smith,” she said. “Female wizards aren’t right either! It’s the wrong kind of magic for women, is wizard magic, it’s all books and stars and jommetry. She’d never grasp it. Whoever heard of a female wizard?”

Quick summary:

A wizard who knows his death is imminent visits a village called Bad Ass (lol!) to pass on his powers and wizard’s staff to the seventh son of a seventh son, who is about to be born. The wizard does so soon after the baby’s birth and, soon after doing so, learns that the baby is not a boy, but a girl, thus making her Discworld’s first female wizard.

Granney Weatherwax, the witch who helped to deliver the baby, believes it’s wrong to have a female wizard. Women should be witches and men wizards. She keeps a close eye on the baby’s development and when the girl, named Esk, starts to show an aptitude for magic, Granny Weatherwax takes her on as an apprentice witch. But before long, Granny Weatherwax realizes that Esk belongs at the Unseen University, a wizard institution, where she can learn more about her growing powers.

Granny takes Esk to the University but both have various adventures along the way that so affect them that by the time the arrive, both aren’t exactly as they were at the beginning of the journey. Joining the Unseen University is a challenge for Esk since girls aren’t accepted, but with Granny Weatherwax’s help, she’s able to attend…sort of…and help defeat a powerful force that threatens it. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I FINALLY READ A TERRY PRATCHETT BOOK!!! 😀

This was a long time coming. I knew nothing of Pratchett or Discworld prior to joining the online book community. When people mentioned a flat world held up by four elephants standing on the back of a giant turtle floating through space, I had no idea what they were talking about and assumed that I’d missed out on an historical event (like how I missed the total eclipse cause I working). But over time, I sorted it all out and slowly became curious about Pratchett and his books. Really, I just wanted to know what all the hype was about. Why is he so awesome?

The hardest thing was figuring out where to start since the Discworld series is comprised of several others. There are many infographs meant to be help people with this decision, but they were all overwhelming. Apparently one can start anywhere, but as someone who feels weird about jumping in the middle of things, selecting a random book didn’t appeal to me. The best advice I received was to just start with the series that most appeals to me, so I chose the Witches series though I’m super curious about Mort (leaving that for later like a tasty dessert).

Equal Rites was great and a lot of fun to read, though at first I thought I’d give up on it. The beginning was interesting, especially when Death came for the wizard, but the plot slowed some after that as Esk grew up and apprenticed with Granny Weatherwax. For me, the plot picks up when the characters leave Bad Ass, that’s when things start to get interesting and the characters themselves become more appealing.

I enjoyed watching them interact with others outside of Bad Ass and the adventures on the way to the Unseen University were fun to read about. It seemed that Pratchett had fun writing this book and calling out fantasy tropes. According to this book’s narrator, the only reason way dwarf halls ring with the sound of hammers is simply because dwarves like the sound, not because they’re always working, and some dwarves pay goblins to hit ceremonial anvils “just to maintain the correct dwarvish image. (Hahaha!)

Really, once the plot picked up, I began enjoying the story and the narrator became one of my favorite characters because it kept cracking me up. Though my reading experience was immersive and I’d get sucked into the story, the feeling doesn’t last long because the narrator would say something like —

“Their wills clanged like cymbals and the air between them thickened. But Granny had spent a lifetime bending recalcitrant creatures to her bidding and, while Esk was a surprisingly strong opponent, it was obvious that she would give in before the end of the paragraph.”

-or-

“The light was misty and actinic, the sort of light to make Steven Spielberg reach for his copyright lawyer.”

(lol!) which would crack me up and remind me that I’m reading a book. It kicks me out the story yet still holds tight to my attention so that I immediately plunge back in.

Granny Weatherwax is, of course, a favorite too. Although at first I wasn’t sure if I’d warm to her since she was so adamant that women could not be wizards. However the more I learned about her, the more fond of her I grew and I just loved her aphorisms and the lessons she teaches Esk, which are mostly true but also very funny, some of them. Through Granny Weatherwax, I became curious about the Unseen University itself, since it seems to have a consciousness (which made me wonder at Hogwarts’ consciousness and if it’s manifested as Peeves), and I hope more is told about that in other books.

Esk’s adventures were fun and of them all, my favorite was her time spent with Amschat B’hal Zoon, who is a Liar and very proud to be one (lol!). Her time with him reminds me of comedies where there’s a kid in a gang of thugs and the kid is the baddest of them all and the most feared.

Other things I like:

  • The writing — I love the descriptions and have included a few sentences and such below.
  • Granny’s big fight — Shows that she’s a true Bad Ass.
  • Esk’s story — She’s determined to break a stupid assumption of females, and in general the capability of people according to their gender, and she did.
  • The library at Unseen University — because of the Orangutan Librarian (lol!). I was so surprised at this and did a long “Oooooohhhh….” as I thought of the Orangutan Librarian blog (lol!). I always wondered why an orangutan.
Overall: ★★★★☆

It starts out slow, but it’s great once the pace picks up. I’m glad to have finally tried a Pratchett novel and now I must GET and READ them ALL!!! 😀

Buy | Borrow | Bypass

I plan on owning all the Discworld books (in the original covers because I prefer those), but that’s not necessary. They are quick, entertaining reads and the covers aren’t awesome, so I recommend borrowing them.

Quotes from the book:

“The storm walked around hills on legs of lightning, shouting and grumbling.”

“A vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you’re attempting can’t be done. A person ignorant of the possibility of failure can be a halfbrick in the path of the bicycle of history.”

“Camels kicked mules, mules kicked horses, horses kicked camels and they all kicked humans; there was a riot of colors, a din of noise, a nasal orchestration of smells and the steady, heady sound of hundreds of people working hard making money.”

“Some things were too big to be really trapped in words, and even the words were too powerful to be completely tamed by writing.”

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Two Illustrated Books: “The Journey” and “Where Are You Going, Manyoni”

A fairly recent visit to the library led me to pick up two illustrated children’s books, one that focuses on the refugee crisis and another that shows us the geography of the Limpopo River Valley in Zimbabwe.


The Journey by Francesca Sanna

Quick summary and My thoughts:

I’ve wanted to read this book since I first heard of it. Sanna’s The Journey was published last year and is about a family seeking refuge in a new land because their country is ravaged by war, which has taken the father, leaving the mother to care for the two children and seek safety for them.

When I first heard of this book, I was reminded of The Arrival, a silent graphic novel by Shaun Tan about a man seeking a safe place for his family to live. Both The Journey and The Arrival are powerful, timely books that relay their stories in little or no words.

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“The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick

I watched and enjoyed the 2011 movie adaptation by Martin Scorsese and have just gotten around to reading the actual book. I’ve heard many high praises for Selznick’s illustrations and stories, but have never read anything by him until this book. I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed what I read, but I appreciated that the illustrations are as integral to the story as the words.

Quick summary:

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is an illustrated middle-grade historical-fiction novel about a 12-year-old orphan boy named Hugo who maintains the clocks at a busy Paris train station. Hugo’s father, a clock maker, died in a fire, leaving Hugo with a notebook and a broken automaton to remember him by.

Hugo was sent to stay with his uncle, a drunk who managed the clocks at the train station. However, Hugo’s uncle disappeared some time ago leaving Hugo in charge of the station’s clocks and fending for himself. Since Hugo is unable to cash his uncle’s checks, he has resorted to theft to get food and as well as supplies for the automaton, which he hopes will give him a message from his father once fixed.

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“Eldest” by Christopher Paolini

Goodreads summary:

Darkness falls…Despair abounds…Evil reigns…

Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider.

It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn’t sure whom he can trust. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall — one that puts Eragon in even graver danger. Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life. (Goodreads)

My thoughts:

I was so bored by this novel that it took me 5 months to complete it.

Eldest is the second novel in Christopher Paolini’s epic fantasy series, the Inheritance Cycle, about a farm boy named Eragon who learns that he’s a dragon rider. In this installment, we mostly watch Roran on his journey to Surda and observe Eragon as he learns to be a dragon rider, i.e., learn the ways of the elves.

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“The Way of Shadows” by Brent Weeks

Ah. Here’s another novel that’s difficult to review. I don’t even know how to start. Whenever I mention it to others, I babble and gush and hardly make sense because all I’m thinking is “DURZO BLINT! DURZO BLINT! DURZO BLINT!!!” 😆

(If you were wondering who my favorite character in this book is, well, you know now.) Durzo Blint! 😀 (I don’t think he would approve of all these emoticons.)

You’re probably wondering why I decided to read this novel; or not.

Well, the Tome Topple Readathon was held last month and I decided to participate though I doubted I’d do well. My plan was to read Nicholas Eames’s Kings of the Wyld, but since that novel isn’t exactly a 500+ page tome (It’s over 400 pages and reaches 500 because of the extra stuff in the back), I decided to read something on my e-reader — this, The Way of Shadows.

The novel was a total surprise. I didn’t expect to like it. It’s dark and its grittiness smacks you in the face as soon as you start reading. I could handle it, but I wasn’t in the mood for that sort of novel. Luckily the pace picks up after a few pages in, and I became so hooked that I sped through the book.

My thought upon completing the novel: “Fuuucckkk!! I need to read that shit again!”

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The Pottermore Presents E-Books, content by J.K. Rowling

Last year, Pottermore collected and published in 3 separate e-books the supplemental texts J.K. Rowling had written about Hogwarts and the wizarding world and its people. Although I was curious about these e-books, I held out for as long as I could on purchasing them in hopes that physical copies would be printed and available at my library.

Last year, I didn’t see the point in purchasing these e-books since their content were (probably are) available for free on Pottermore. However, this year I succumbed to my curiousity and purchased all three e-books because of the convenience of having all that content in one place and not having to click around on a website to find it. (I’d still prefer a physical copy of them, though.)

I was driven to these e-books by my craving for more stories set in the Rowling’s wizarding world. Though these collections do not contain stories, my craving were satiated by the short pieces within them that provided facts about beings, individuals, places, and occurrences at Hogwarts and in the wizarding world.

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“Ship of Destiny” by Robin Hobb

This is the reason why I haven’t posted a review in a while. I’ve been procrastinating on reviewing Ship of Destiny because I have SOOO many thoughts.

Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders series was a slog to get through. I enjoyed reading the books, but the pace was slow, burdened down by details of the characters, events, and expansive world in which the story is set. It was also emotionally heavy, which sometimes slowed my reading to a crawl because I had to take breaks.

Despite all that, I liked the story and so did my buddy-reader Emily at Embuhlee liest, with whom I’ve been reading Robin Hobb’s books. We so enjoyed the Liveship Traders series that we’ve decided to plunge into the Tawney Man Trilogy together and see what adventure awaits us there. But first, I must wrap up the last book of the Liveship Traders trilogy: Ship of Destiny.

Note: This will be both a review of Ship of Destiny, the last book in the trilogy, and a wrap up of the entire trilogy. There will be spoilers for this and the earlier books in the trilogy, as well as the Farseer trilogy.

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