Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lords and Ladies

It's Terry Pratchett. Go read this now.

Okay, a bit more substance. Lords and Ladies is a Discworld novel, and a Witches novel to be more specific. Featuring Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, this book takes place directly following Witches Abroad (which in turn follows Wyrd Sisters). King Verence of Lancre has arranged to marry Magrat, which she wants, but it's hard for her to reconcile her romantic, free-spirited nature with Verence's new kingliness. Meanwhile, Granny Weatherwax is busy dealing with a foe from her past. The wards keeping the Fair Folk away from Discworld have been weakening, and Midsummer approaches.

So the Witches books tend to draw on literature and drama and folklore. Wyrd Sisters is based on the Scottish play, and Witches Abroad riffs on Cinderella and fairy tales in general. In Lords and Ladies, it's fairy lore (and A Midsummer Night's Dream?) and Tam Lin. (Maskerade, which I believe comes next, is The Phantom of the Opera.) So you've got the usual stuff about fairy circles and iron, but Pratchett, unlike some modern fantasy authors, doesn't romanticize fairies. He, through Granny Weatherwax, scoffs at that and plays up the alien cruelty of the fair folk that used to be prevalent in folk tales.

So there's some background. Anyway, as for the story itself, it's good. Granny Weatherwax is always an interesting character. She doesn't subscribe to the same pedestrian ways of thinking as most people. Her headology means she's always looking deeper and at the same time what she does is simple and obvious. Even though Granny is good, she struggles with wanting power and knowledge, and watching her try to always stay on top of things and do things her own way is fascinating. This is a strong female character. And Magrat's part of the story is fun, too, in its own way, for while we respect Granny, it's a bit difficult for the average person to identify with her. Magrat is more our speed, with her romantic dreams and headstrong, inexperienced behavior. She also gets some pretty awesome moments.

For being a non-City Watch book and an earlier Discworld novel, this is a very fun, solid read. I recommend it.

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