Friday, 6 November 2015

Review: Witches Abroad by Sir Terry Pratchett

Publication Date: December 23rd 1998 (this edition)
Publisher: Corgi
Length: 288 pages

Things have to come to an end, see. That's how it works when you turn the world into stories. You should never have done that. You shouldn't treat people like they was characters, like they was things. But if you do, then you've got to know where the story ends.'
It seemed an easy job... After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince? Quite hard, actually, even for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick. That's the problem with real life – it tends to get in the way of a good story, and a good story is hard to resist. Servant girls 
have to marry the prince. That's what life is all about. You can't fight a Happy Ending, especially when it comes with glass slippers and a Fairy Godmother who has made Destiny an offer it can't refuse.
At least - up until now...

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying my discovery of the Witches of the Discworld, particularly ‘Wyrd Sisters’ and I knew that this third outing would have to work incredibly hard to live up to the brilliantly high bar set by the preceding book.

On the whole it succeeds, but it didn’t quite recapture the magnificence of ‘Wyrd Sisters’ for me as I found the earlier parts of the story to lag and not hold my attention in quite the way I hoped. It’s still a brilliant story and Pratchett flexes his truly impressive writing skills to combine a fantastic array of fairy tales, twisting them into something quite unique.

I loved seeing Granny, Nanny and Magrat out of their element and exploring the Discworld. The combination of countries, cultures and languages that Pratchett appropriates is utterly brilliant, and I don’t think anything will ever beat Nanny speaking the local lingo. Unless it’s Greebo in person form, which was one of the best things I have ever seen.

As with other Pratchett’s the threads are set up and the story ambles along at its own pace for the first two thirds of the novel, which is fun to read but didn’t particularly grab my attention and force me to read. As a result I spent quite a while ambling through this novel around other books and didn’t find myself thoroughly hooked by the story until everything starts to snowball in typical Pratchett style. As everything comes together and we flit between view points as the action coalesces into one glorious whole, that is when Pratchett truly shines and I found myself thoroughly engrossed and unable (and unwilling) to relinquish the story until I’d seen it through to its end.

I love the directions Pratchett takes the Witches on their third outing, I love seeing the character development and the masterful twisting of other tales into one brilliant and unique whole. This may not have been my favourite Witches instalment, but it is still a bitingly funny, brilliantly written book.

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