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Equal Rites (Discworld) Hardcover – March, 1988

4.3 out of 5 stars 364 customer reviews
Book 3 of 40 in the Discworld Series

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Hardcover, March, 1988
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Editorial Reviews


"Truly original....Discworld is more complicated and satisfactory than Oz.... Has the energy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the inventiveness of Alice in Wonderland....Brilliant!"

-- A. S. Byatt --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From the Back Cover

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels, consistent number one bestsellers in England, have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody along with Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

In Equal Rites, a dying wizard tries to pass on his powers to an eighth son of an eighth son, who is just at that moment being born. The fact that the son is actually a daughter is discovered just a little too late. . . . --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.


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Product Details

  • Series: Discworld
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Victor Gollancz (March 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575039507
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575039506
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (364 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,293,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the third book in Pratchett's "Discworld" series and the first one I read more than ten years ago. Since then, Pratchett has gotten steadily better as a writer; his work, generally speaking, has gotten tighter and funnier at the same time that it shows more depth. Those of you who first encountered the Discworld later in the series will probably view Equal Rites as a less impressive effort. It is, after all, difficult to go back to the earlier work of an author whose recent books have given us such high expectations.
This is a shame, because unlike the first two books in the series, Equal Rites holds up fairly well on a second reading. The plot moves a little slowly in places, but the characterizations are rich and the story enjoyable. Gently (and sometimes not-so-gently) lampooning the trappings of Fantasy novels, Pratchett gives us a humorous and touching adventure that I found quite satisfying.
Though all of the books in the series can pretty much stand on their own with regards to both plot and character, there is something to be said for reading them in order. The reader gets to follow along with the author as an entire fictitious world materializes in his mind. I can't help but feel that the best time to meet a character is the first time he's presented to the reader, as is Granny Weatherwax in this book. Encountering her again in Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad is only that much more enjoyable.
I heartily recommend Equal Rites as an introduction to the Discworld. Then, I suggest you waste no time in finding Mort for an encore.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
OK, I'm not used to reviewing novels, so you'll pardon me if my literary style is not up to scratch. This book was given to me by a friend who decided I had to read it. This is the third book in Pratchett's "Discworld" series. I haven't read any of the others and it was not necessary to do so in order to thoroughly enjoy this book.
In a different reality from ours, where the world is a flat disc supported on the back of a giant tortoise, lives a little girl named Esk who is mistakenly appointed a wizard in a world where females can't be wizards (it's against the lore). Granny tries to raise Esk in the way of witches instead, but finds she can't fight the fait accompli. Like it or not, Esk is meant to be a wizard.
The message of equal opportunity does not hit the reader over the head, although the message was probably more blatant a decade ago. Esk needs to go to wizard university in order to control her powers, but the university is just for males. Granny, the prim traditionalist, is against Esk doing all these "unnatural" things, but turns out in the end to be the biggest "feminist" of them all.
Along the way, there are fun, good humour, smiles, ethereal monsters, flying books and orang-utan librarians.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When Eskarina was born she was bestowed with a dying wizard's magic staff and his powers because the wizard mistakenly thought she was the eighth son of an eighth son. Granny Weatherwax, the town witch who delivered young Esk, knows that the girl must now learn to control the extraordinary powers she has been bequeathed before they start to control her. She takes Esk under her wing and begins to teach her about witchcraft and magic. After Esk has had several years of apprenticeship, Granny decides to enroll Esk in Unseen University, the training ground for wizards. The two of them set off for Ankh-Morpork, the home of the famous wizard school. But everyone in Discworld knows that wizardry is the bastion of men and that a woman can never become a wizard... or can she?

In "Equal Rites," Terry Pratchett parodies gender stereotyping and discrimination as Esk is confronted with society's view of the differences between witchcraft, a traditionally feminine profession, and wizardry, an exclusively male domain. As Granny sees it, wizardry is high magic composed of science, "jommetry" and power, while witchcraft is a magic grounded in nature, herbs and "headology." Esk feels she can handle either type of magic and she turns wizardry on its ear as she proceeds to demonstrate what she can accomplish. Before reading this book, I thought that Rincewind was the most bumbling of wizards. I now realize that Unseen University is full of them!

This book is not as wickedly funny as the two books that precede it, but it does contain several humorous scenes such as the magic conjuring duel between Granny and the Archchancellor of the university. Although Pratchettisms are sprinkled here and there throughout the book, the story line takes precedence over the satire.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pratchett seems to love the character dynamic between the Curmudgeon and the Innocent, when both are working together towards the same goals. He used this to great effect with Rincewind and Twoflower in the first two books of his Discworld series, and it pops up again here.
Granny Weatherwax (the curmudgeon) is a witch. She is charged with steering 8-year old Esk towards wizardry. Only Esk is a girl, and as we all know, girls can't be wizards. She was supposed to be the eighth son of an eighth son, but somebody messed up the paperwork. It is this conflict that is central to the book. Pratchett does a nice job lampooning the (perceived) differences between men and women (i.e., practical vs. intuitive knowledge; book study vs. study of nature, etc.) that exist in our world, transporting them to his own imagined landscape. That's to be expected from a book punnishly titled "Equal Rites". On top of that, we get a cunning parody of institutes of higher learning. Unseen University (where boys go to become wizards) and its hierarchy of learned scholars knocks the stuffing out of scholastic life.
All the Pratchett devices are back for another run through the ringer. Along with the above mentioned character types, we also have some silly humour (a group of marzipan ducks magically anthropomorphize, only to melt when they take to the river; "that's natural selection for you," comments the cheeky narrator). And another inanimate object without a face inexplicably manages to make facial expressions. Twoflower's Luggage has an heir apparent in Esk's magic staff. Some comments I've read state that Pratchett relies too heavily on these devices in later books. Well, it's only three books into the series, and I still find them fresh and interesting. Time will tell, though.
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