Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett is the sixth title in the Discworld novels, and one which I remembered very fondly from my teens. My son is reading the entirety of the Discworld series in order, and I was so glad when he got to this book. He has been reading me ten pages a day every morning and it has made even the most gloomy mornings a brighter prospect.
We had come across Granny Weatherwax before in Equal Rites but this is the first book in which we really explore the witches plural as a phenomena, with the introduction of the splendid Gytha Ogg and the drippy hippy Magrat. We love Nanny Ogg, particularly because she gets drunk and sings The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All.
This book is a must if you are a fan of Shakespeare. There are so many Shakespearean references and quotations and the whole book is a mash up of all the best plays, predominantly Macbeth but there are lots of other little nuggets of gold here for the Shakespeareophile, and we loved digging out some of them. I’m sure we missed as many as we found, but it was really good fun.
Granny and her comrades are, of course, the three witches. The kingly side of the story comes from the murder of King Verence of Lancre, by his nephew the scheming Duke of Felmet, egged on by his even more scheming wife. The King had a son who is given to the witches for safe keeping, and the witches, unsure of what to do with him in Lancre that will keep him safe, give him to a travelling band of players to look after. The story, like much of Shakespeare involves putting the world order back to the way it should be as Felmet has made the world ‘out of joint.’
This is funny and clever and involving and for my money, is where the Disc really gets into its stride as a series. It’s where it starts veering away more from straight fantasy and into social commentary, and it is wonderful. My son loved this book and was properly sad to see it end. He had started out only really loving the books with Rincewind in them, but is now equally besotted with the witches. It will be interesting to see what he makes of the next book, Pyramids, which has none of the familiar characters in. As it starts with the Assassin’s Guild I think we might be o.k. mind you.
Very funny, very bawdy, full of great scenes and lots of action, this is one of my favourite books about the Discworld and revisiting it was no disappointment. It is really suitable for teen/YA readers who don’t mind a bit of swearing and lots of double entendres.