Review: Lords and Ladies

Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second time reading Lords and Ladies

Throughout this re-read I have asked a question in my reviews: Is this a good jumping on point for The Discworld. I have tried to give justifications for an answer in either direction. This is the first book where, at least in the version I have – American Paperback – Sir Pratchett himself mentions that to really enjoy this book you need to have been following the last few Witches books. In fact there’s even a potential reference made by Weatherwax to the seemingly retconned Equal Rites. Mostly the book is an almost direct continuation of Witches Abroad, picking up where the previous one left off as the Witches arrive back home in Lancre.

The main conflict is an internal one for Magrat about identity and whether she can be both a witch and a queen and whether she even wants to be a queen. It’s not helped by the fact that both she and Verence are so timid and inexperienced and self-conscious that Verence has sent out for books on everything, including how kings and queens should act.

At the same time, a few goth girls in town don’t like Weatherwax and Ogg’s headology take on witchcraft and want to do more spells. Throughout Discworld up to this point, we’ve seen Pratchett work his way to a system where witches are just as capable of doing magic as wizards, but prefer to use psychology, folk medicine, and superstition for fear of becoming power-hungry. I think I remember this side-plot becoming more relevant in future books and Pratchett is just setting the table for adding a little more variety to the coven.

Another reason for having had a few Discworld books under your belt by this point is the Wizard plotline. The main non-Rincewind wizards have been invited to Verence and Magrat’s wedding. If you haven’t ready any of the wizard books you’ll probably be fine as it’s a bit of a side-plot, but you’ll have more fun with the Arch Chancellor, Ponder Stibbons, the Bursar, and the Librarian if you have been reading along for a bit. Ponder is one of the more interesting elevated characters. He was the tiniest side-note in Moving Pictures where he accidentally gets the main character’s incredibly easy test, elevating him to full wizard-hood. Now he represents young, upstart professors and Pratchett’s way to have fun with The Discworld’s version of quantum mechanics.

Finally, the Elf plot is almost to McGuffin levels of inconsequential, but it does have one of my favorite bits of Discworld prose:

Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvelous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.

All-in-all a good bit of character growth for Magrat and it’s always fun to see Granny Weatherwax; especially interacting with the Arch Chancellor Ridcully.

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