I think a caveat is in order: this is the first Terry Pratchett novel I’ve read, barring the wonderful Good Omens. His Discworld series is enormously popular and probably has rabid fans so take this review with a grain of salt.
Equal Rites is amazing …. if you treat it as a young adult novel.
On a stormy night, a wizard shows up in the small mountain town of Bad Ass. He’s here to pass on his magical staff, for he is going to die in six minutes. And the 8th son of an 8th son has just been born, the correct magical terms of hand me downs. Only later do they realize that it was in fact a daughter who received the magical gift, not a son.
And at this time in the Discworld, women can’t be magicians! They can only be witches, and that’s the way of the world. But we all know what happens when you tell a stubborn little girl she can’t be something.
Now, I already knew that Terry Pratchett was known for his wit and comedy in writing. I can happily report that I also agree with this understanding. This book is quite funny, reminding me of the first time I read Hitchhiker’s. Something about the British people makes them the funniest authors.
Equal Rites is full of great characters. And I love the genderbending structure of the thing. It’s not just that there’s a female lead character learning magic (when it’s usually a young man). It’s a precocious nine year old named Esk who is trying to learn magic AND rage against the male power structure that even her witch ‘granny’ believes. It feels like a book written in 2018. I love that the moral of the story is essentially how silly it is that we do or believe certain things because we’ve always done it that way.
This is the kind of book for both kids and adults. A great little adventure (it’s a short book) with plenty of Pixar like jokes for the grown-ups. I wish I read this as a teen or even younger, I bet I would have loved it.
My introduction to Discworld was a great one. I can’t wait to dive in deeper.
4 out of 4 stars.