“There are storms that are frankly theatrical, all sheet lightning and metallic thunder rolls. There are storms that are tropical and sultry, and incline to hot winds and fireballs. But this was a storm of the Circle Sea plains, and its main ambition was to hit the ground with as much rain as possible. It was the kind of storm that suggests that the whole sky has swallowed a diuretic. The thunder and lightning hung around in the background, supplying a sort of chorus, but the rain was the star of the show. It tap-danced across the land.”
Equal Rites is not a perfect book. There were some gaps in the narrative of the story of Esk, the first female wizard of Discworld, which made me jump back to previous paragraphs only to find that there really was no explanation.
Equal Rites was also a book of two halves: while the first half was a slow-paced introduction to the village of Bad Ass (yes, I love that name, too) and its inhabitants, the second half was full of racy action and adventure.
However, while the book was not perfect, it had one aspect that made up for any points of criticism I might find: Granny Weatherwax.
‘Nonono, it’s against the lore, you must go away now. Ladies are not allowed in here!’ ‘I’m not a lady, I’m a witch,’ said Granny.
Tough as nails…
‘Excuse me, my good woman, but would you be so kind as to move, please?’ Granny stepped aside, affronted by this display of downright politeness and particularly upset at being thought of as anyone’s good woman, and the driver saw Esk.
Granny, meanwhile, was two streets away. She was also, by the standards of other people, lost. She would not see it like that. She knew where she was, it was just that everywhere else didn’t.
‘You don’t know anything about boats!’ Cutangle protested.
‘I shall have to learn quickly, then,’ replied Granny calmly.
‘But I haven’t been in a boat since I was a boy!’
‘I wasn’t actually asking you to come. Does the pointy bit go in front?’
Granny Weatherwax who has her own sense of style…
Granny wasn’t sure she approved of silk, she’d heard it came out of a caterpillar’s bottom, but black velvet had a powerful attraction.
Granny had the chance to become one of the very few women to learn what it really is that wizards wear under their robes, but modestly averted her eyes and followed the girl across the flagstones and down a wide flight of steps.
even in the most, erm…, “romantic” of circumstances…
‘When I said hold on—’
‘I didn’t mean there.’ There was a pause.
‘Oh. Yes. I see. I’m terribly sorry.’
‘That’s all right.’
‘My memory isn’t what it was . . . I assure you . . . no offence meant.’
‘None taken.’ They flew in silence for a moment. ‘Nevertheless,’ said Granny thoughtfully, ‘I think that, on the whole, I would prefer you to move your hands.’
Granny is brilliant and not to be trifled with, but she has her soft sides, too, which just adds to her brilliance as a character. So, when her ward Esk is rejected by the wizards, she steps up to console her and take on the established guild like only Granny can…
She stood up. ‘Let’s find this Great Hall then. No time to waste.’
‘Um, women aren’t allowed in,’ said Esk.
Granny stopped in the doorway. Her shoulders rose. She turned around very slowly. ‘What did you say?’ she said. ‘Did these old ears deceive me, and don’t say they did because they didn’t.’
‘Sorry,’ said Esk. ‘Force of habit.’
‘I can see you’ve been getting ideas below your station,’ said Granny coldly. ‘Go and find someone to watch over the lad, and let’s see what’s so great about this hall that I mustn’t set foot in it.’
Once Granny got going this was a brilliant read, but as I said, it took a while to get going.
I intended to read this for the “Witches” square of the Halloween bingo, but most of the action in Equal Rites takes place during a storm and in the dark, so I am going to assign this to the Dark and Stormy Night square – which opens up the “Witches” square again for, erm, umm, well, more of Granny……I’m seriously looking at Witches Abroad now.