Release Date: November 5th, 2012
Rating: 5/5 Stars
It goes without saying that if you like Terry Pratchett, you’ve likely already read this or, at least, are considering reading it, no matter what I say. It’s definitely worth reading, but if you haven’t read Pratchett before for some reason, let me convince you why you should.
Firstly, you can pick up the Discworld at any point. Until now I’ve read them in order, with this being the sixth entry – the second in the sort of subseries ‘Witches’ – but I have some on my TBR now that are past the seventh, so I’ll likely read them first. (As a sidenote, the first Discworld book I actually ever read was Small Gods, which is number 13.) As a whole so far, the series is full of Pratchett’s warm wit, references across literature, and moments where the reader is in on a joke the characters aren’t. In Wyrd Sisters, we have Death making his usual appearance, and by this point the world itself feels familiar, it’s like visiting a favourite destination.
This particular book riffs a fair bit from Shakespeare, dropping in quotes here and there and utilizing the plays to create the storyline for Wyrd Sisters, but of course with Pratchett’s own unique twists. Most notably, the most recognisable ones used are McBeth and Hamlet.
Wyrd Sisters focuses on Granny Weatherwax, previously introduced in Equal Rites, and two more witches: Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. Pratchett uses these three to almost show the different strands of witches in Discworld, with Granny being as stubborn and brilliant as always, Nanny as the matriarch of a large family, with her various children and in-laws, and Magrat as the younger generation, who wants to do things a bit differently. She sees being a witch as involving jewellery, the proper instruments, a particular style of clothes, and a coven, with regular meetings.
Granny and Nanny indulge her, and it’s at one of these meetings a strange thing happens that makes them all question their “don’t meddle in politics” rule.
The book switches between the witches, the new usurper king, and the travelling trope of actors. The developing relationship between the witches leads to some truly funny moments, especially as the two older ones try to guide Magrat without actually sitting down to teach her in the way she expects. It’s a great commentary in general on the sort of divide between older and younger generations, and it’s only by coming to a compromise and combining the different ‘styles’ can they achieve what they need to do.
It wouldn’t a Pratchett book without the references, allusions and commentary, and this all comes together to make for a truly entertaining book. It’s one of the few big book series I’ve actually stuck with fully, and I have absolutely no plans for that to change anytime soon.
Thank you to the publishers for providing me a copy of this review via NetGalley – reviews remain my own.