Terry Pratchett: "Equal Rites"

Equal Rites is the third fantasy novel of Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and was recommended to me by my former professor of Icelandic folklore. Published in 1987, it explores the themes of female magic vs male magic, gender equality, institutionalised vs grassroot magic and the use of power.

The story goes as follows: Drum Billet, a wizard, ends up in Bad Ass, a small village up the mountains to give on his magical staff to the 8th son of an 8th son. As the child is born, Drum Billet dies without knowing that the newborn is not a son, but a daughter, who per definition can never be a wizard.
However, Esk, as the girl is called, develops extensive magical powers and is taken in to be trained by the with Granny Weatherwax. As this is not enough for the long term, Granny Weatherway and Esk travel to the Unseen University, a hotspot for wizards.
At first, Esk is refused, because she is a woman, but after a lot of troublemaking in which her wizard friend accidentally lets in creatures from the dungeon dimensions, the university is flooded and the head of the institution is more or less saved by Granny Weatherwax on the way to get the magical staff back - hey, it's Discworld! - a happy end finishes the book not à la "and they had many children" but as in "they continued to research the power of how to not use magic".
Discworld novels are always an enjoyable read, some are simply genius, some are just plain funny. Equal Rites is not part of the best ones, but does not fail on its themes and even surprises by its conclusion on magic: that the greatest power comes when you refuse to use any other power. The great character Granny Weatherwax is introduced, who fortunately will pop up in the following novels from time to time and who maybe adds the most fun to the story. The other characters are not developed as much and even Esk just seems to serve the purpose of one story. Indeed, the story ends while she is still a teenager and so we do not get to know what kind of wizard she will be.
Overall, a funny and quick read with some great points that could have been developed further, but we feel that this is still the beginning of Discworld.


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Constantly changing places is inherent to my life. Books have always been steady friends which I could bump into wherever I was all over the world.
Stumbling upon Kaminer's German stories of "Die Reise nach Trulala" in Reykjavík's city library is as moving as meeting the Icelandic sagas in Boston's Borders.
To see a book again, that I've read thousands of kilometers away makes me smile "Hey I know you.." and shake hands by thumbing through it for a while.