December 23, 2002

Witches Abroad, by Terry Pratchett

One of the main themes of Pratchett's Discworld books, especially the earlier books, is the power of stories. On the Disc, the power of the Law of Narrative Causality is nearly absolute. One noted victim was the evil witch Black Aliss, who took to turning princes into gingerbread and building houses out of frogs. She met her demise at the hands of a pair of young children she was planning to have for supper. It's dangerous to get too cozy with stories.

In the present book, which follows directly after Wyrd Sisters, Magrat Garlick inherits the fairy godmothership for a young girl named Ella, who lives in the far off exotic city of Genua. So happens Ella has two fairy godmothers, and the other one is determined that Ella, though oppressed by two evil step-sisters, will nevertheless wed the handsome prince and live happily ever after--no matter how many lives she has to torque out of shape in the process.

With the godmother's wand, Magrat inherits the injunction not to allow Ella to marry the prince, and in no case to let Granny Weatherwax or Nanny Ogg to help her with the situation. Naturally the older witches join in (which was rather the idea of the prohibition), and the three witches are off to "Foreign Parts". What follows is a hugely entertaining tale in which Pratchett rings the changes on just about every fairy tale you can imagine. It also explains New Orleans cookery.

Posted by Will Duquette at December 23, 2002 04:07 PM