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Lords and Ladies.

Updated on October 20, 2009

"The Monks of Cool, whose tiny and exclusive monastery is hidden in a really cool and laid-back valley in the lower Ramtops, have a passing-out test for a novice. He is taken into a room full of all types of clothing and asked: Yo, my son, which of these is the most stylish thing to wear? And the correct answer is: Hey, whatever I select."

Shakespeare Meets Discworld

When we left Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick in Witches Abroad, they had decided they "were going to see the elephant" and travel the Disc a bit on their way back home from the kingdom of Genua. And once they arrive it's time for a nice quiet rest from their vacation.When they get home they go about their daily lives, Granny getting ready for the coming season, Nanny inspecting her daughter-in-laws work in her absence and Magrat is getting married. Yes, the King of Lancre, once a Fool, Verence has begun making all the arrangements for Magrat to take the crown as Queen of Lancre. The dress has been ordered, the buffet planned and the wizards of Unseen University invited.

They only problem is that someone has been messing with things. Someone has been dancing around the Stones, and every one knows you don't dance around the stones. Of course no one knows why that's the case, after all some information only gets passed from one senior witch to another, and with Granny and Nanny out of town, there's no one available to put a stop to the mischief.

You see, the Stones are a barrier, a door between worlds, keeping someone out of the Discworld. Specifically, the Queen of the Elves. You know elves: beautiful, graceful and wonderful, almost catlike in their ability to charm and delight. And no doubt mice can recognize the beauty and charm of the cat, right before it's eaten. The elves to are able to charm and beguile humans, and certainly they like to play with their food before eating it. When the Queen and her elves cross in to Lancre, it's up to the Witches to protect their home.

Problems arise though. Archchancellor Ridcully has decided to try and rekindle a long lost romance with Granny Weatherwax. The citizens of Lancre are all under the spell of the Queen. And Magrat has gotten it into her head that she should face the Queen, one on one, for the right to rule Lancre.

Some Thoughts

Any fan of Shakespeares' A Midsummer Night's Dream,will recognize this story. The wedding, the crossover of fairy and real world as well the play performed by "rude mechanicals", to use Puck's phrase, are all brought together in a true Discworld translation. The various romantic pairings in the story (Granny and Ridcully, Magrat and Verence, Nanny and Casanunda) reflect, much as Shakespeare did, the various aspects that love can take, especially over time.

Mr.Pratchett's usual humor is in almost full force here. Lots of wordplay, funny footnotes and groanable puns are folded into the story. There are two in particular that stood out because they were totally unexpected and made me laugh. The first involves Greebo as he tries to escape an angry Magrat, done up in full operatic heroine armor, in the Lancre castle's armory. The other one happens near the end and is basically set up by the whole book, the story being just a means to get to this end, and it is a real groaner, but worth the set-up.

Granny of course is always a favorite of mine. Here we see her tested to the limit, and even when it looks like she's beaten, we see that she can help out those that depend on her. And we get an idea of the way that she impacts those around her, as Magrat is able to tap her own core of strength with the help of Granny. To me that's one of the most powerful messages that Mr. Pratchett offers through the witches, that we all have that strength within us, but we need others to really let it loose.

Another top-notch story, fun and exciting. I hope you'll enjoy as much as I do.


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