Review: Wyrd Sisters

Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second time reading this book. The rating went up from 3 to 4 stars

This book revisits Granny Weatherwax, but while it keeps a lot of her personality traits, it seems to at least half-retcon the events of Equal Rites. The earlier book seemed to point to witches sticking strictly to headology while this one just has it as a preference. While Pratchett does keep Granny’s unreliable broom, she seems a lot more comfortable on it than she did in the previous book. Did she grow to like it or simply an outgrowth of ignoring the first few Discworld books?

Getting away from all that, the book does make several additions to what will be the state of Discworld going forward. First of all, it adds one of my favorite characters, Nanny Ogg. She’s a witch who had so many kids across three marriages, that almost anyone anywhere in Lancre is either one of her children or children-in-laws. She’s also in the role of the older person who’s been around so long that manners and polite society are things that happen to other folks. She’s always ready to point things out where others would be silent. She also introduces us to the Discworld bawdy songs, “The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered” and “A Wizard’s Staff has got a Knob on the End” which feature in every Discworld bar scene going forward. Magrat is fun as a witch who take all the “Hot Topic” and goth elements seriously. I think I enjoy her character in later books. Quirm is firmly cemented as an Italy analogue in this book, too. Finally, we have The Dysk – Pratchett’s version of the Globe Theatre.

Plot-wise, Pratchett introduces his trend of having the Witch books be Shakespeare parodies and this one a parody of MacBeth (and maybe some Hamlet thrown in? I’m not as familiar with Hamlet). It follows the beats in a rather Discworld sort of way and we have a bit of fun with it all. We follow the stories of the Duke and Dutchess (MacBeth roles), the three witches, The Fool, and a traveling troupe of actors (the part they play is definitely from Hamlet unless the Simpsons Hamlet episode lied to me). The book doesn’t do too much character growth for any of the characters. We’re introduced (and reintroduced) to the witches and I believe it takes a few books before Magrat has her growth moment. The plot mostly happens to the characters thanks to destiny (well, destiny plus witches).

All that aside, Pratchett finally has his Discworld sea-legs at this point and things are chugging along. The story flows well and isn’t just a bunch of loosely connected sketches. Not a bad starting point for a new reader although Mort would work just as well.

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