Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett Review

I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan, his Discworld collection is a majestic vision of a humorous, dangerous and quite absurd universe within which anything is possible. That being said some of those stories are better than others.

His first two books in the series, The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, for instance are not exactly his best. They are certainly quite funny and take a parodic shots at many fantasy tropes, but because of that they don’t really have their own voice. Those two novels feel disjointed, like a bunch of jokes held together with the flimsiest bit of plot tape.

His third novel though, Equal Rites is definetly where Pratchett finds his own voice, now he has a real plot and some actual storytelling behind the wonderfully crafted jokes.

At its core Equal Rites is a tale about equality and the injustices of the Discworld, and it does a great job of exploring these themes while maintaining a witty tone. While I greatly enjoyed the first two books in the series it was really Equal Rites that first got me hooked onto Terry Pratchett.

This is a fun, humerous, and well crafted story about a young girl names Esk and her experiences of growing up in the world of magic. As the third in the series Pratchett doesn’t bother diving too much into the Discworld mythology, this allows him to progress the story much more easily, yet sadly this will leave big points of confusion for readers who may start their journey here.

The story is simple, there’s nothing ground-breaking here at all, yet it is well executed and the main character is remarkably charming, making for an all around fantastic read.

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One criticism I would have though is the finale, the grand spectacular ending we were promised page after page is none existent, the great battle between witches and wizards is highjacked and ignored, possibly so as not to fundamentally change the social status of the Discworld, yet it feels like a copout all the same, and makes the entire journey seem almost pointless.

The biggest strength of Equal Rites is the wonderful character development we get to experience. Unlike the first two stories the character here feel more fleshed out, more real rather than simple one dimensional parodies of other, bigger, fantasy characters. These beings are charming, witty, likeable, but also hugely flawed, and it is their moments of self actualisation that are the most interesting to me. Throughout the novel these characters grow, change, evolve, they become better, or indeed worse, than they were when we first met them.

Characters are a huge part of Pratchett’s writing so it’s great to see that even early on in his career he was so adept at this skill.

Of course with Equal Rites being so early in his Discworld career there are some low points. He spends too long trying to explain Discworld’s magic and how it works, this is tedious and unnecessary and upsets the otherwise excellent flow of the novel.

The best thing about Equal Rites though is its ability to resonate with people, whether or not they are a fan of fantasy novels there is something to love about this book. The story of a young girl asking why women can’t be wizards transcends the genre, and while it’s not a masterpiece it is a strong and easy to read novel that explores those real world topics in a unique and brilliantly funny way.

Rating

Rating: 8 out of 10.

The Last Terry Pratchett Stories will be Published in September

Many of the stories in The Time-travelling Caveman have never been published in a book

The last ever stories from the mind of Terry Pratchett will eventually be published in September. While they’ll be our final gift from the late great author these stories were written early in his career while he was just a young reporter. Many of these stories have never been released in book form before and range from a steam-powered rocket’s flight to Mars to a Welsh shepherd’s discovery of the resting place of King Arthur. Some of the stories did see the light of day when they appeared in appeared in the Bucks Free Press and Western Daily Press way back in the 60s and early 70s.

Pratchett worked at the Bucks Free Press during this time where he would write a weekly Children’s Circle story column. He published his first novel, The Carpet People, in 1971, when he was only 23. Original copies of the newspapers containing these Pratchett stories can sell for hundreds of pounds online.

Discworld is arguably Pratchett’s most famous series

When the editors of Pratchett’s children’s books, Ruth Knowles and Tom Rawlinson, learnt there were more early stories not yet in book form they jumped at the opportunity to share them with the world.

“After reading them, we knew we had to create one final book. It is very fitting that some of the first stories he wrote will be in the last collection by him to be published,” said Knowles and Rawlinson in a joint statement. “There is so much in these stories that shows you the germ of an idea, which would go on to become a fully fledged Terry Pratchett novel, and so much hilarity that we know kids will love. That is what makes the stories so special – they are for kids and adults, and kids who want to be adults, and adults who are still really kids. Which is exactly who a Terry Pratchett book should be for.”

The stories in book, titled The Time-travelling Caveman, see him exercising his trademark dry wit. In The Tropnecian Invasion of Great Britain, he writes: “That was how things were done in history. As soon as you saw a place, you had to conquer it, and usually the English Channel was full of ships queuing up to come and have a good conquer.”

“When it comes to Terry, there is always going to be an embarrassment of riches. His incredible talent and imagination knew no bounds,” said Rob Wilkins, the author’s and manager of his estate. “With more tales of everything that would go on to make Terry Pratchett books the phenomenon they became – humour, satire, adventure and fantastical excellence – we just couldn’t deny readers these gems, and the chance to read a Terry story for the first time, one last time. It will mean so much to fans.”

Pratchett sadly passed away in 2015 but not before leaving us a plethora of brilliant novels to enjoy. From Discworld to Good Omens Pratchett left an everlasting mark on the literary world, a mark that will only get stronger this September.