The first of the Discworld novels I have read (publication order, mostly, but I skipped Reaper Man and will be going back to that one next) that I have finished and immediately thought: “Everything about that was absolutely perfect”.
The easy chemistry between Nanny and Granny is not only hilarious but unerringly truthful in a way that most fictional friendships aren’t. How often do Nanny and Granny think something negative about one another but wisely keep their mouths shut about it in the moment? This is because they know one another inside out, they know that it would lead to nothing good, they accept one another’s shortcomings and in real friendships this is a thing that we do all the time. I love them.
That’s not to say that Magrat doesn’t have her place in the trio, and in Witches Abroad she certainly did her best to be more assertive, but ultimately her ongoing identity crisis continues to be her defining feature. And that’s kind of the point, so it’s OK.
The absolute highlight of the novel for me was the “Northern English biddies on holiday” aspect of it. I couldn’t help it. I’m from Lancashire myself (which Lancre is based on) and Granny in particular is a spot on take on the Northern tourist of the 80s who thinks garlic bread is an exotic delicacy and anything more daring can safely be filed under “foreign muck”. Nanny is so much like my own dear departed Grandmother that at times I was laughing and misty eyed at the same time.
The twisted take on fairytales and how we’re shaped by stories was brilliantly executed, and at times even pretty disturbing for Discworld (the part with the wolf actually made my skin a bit prickly). The underlying social commentary is very Pratchett: Forcing people into what you have deemed to be the “correct” narrative is wrong. Leave others be to live their lives. It was relevant then, it’s relevant now and no doubt it will continue to be so.
Brilliant stuff. This is certainly going to be a comfort read for me in the future.
/r/Fantasy Bingo 2017 Squares
- Not the First Book in a Series
- Older (50+) Protagonist