Equal Rites

Equal Rites

infobox Discworld|id=3rd novel – 1st Witches story
characters=Eskarina Smith Granny Weatherwax
locations=Ankh-Morpork, Lancre
motifs=Fantasy clichés, Feminism
publisher=Victor Gollancz
ISBNH=ISBN 0-575-03950-7
ISBNP=ISBN 0-552-13105-9

"Equal Rites" is a comic fantasy novel by Terry Pratchett. Published in 1987, it is the third novel in the "Discworld" series and the first in which the main character is not Rincewind. It introduces the character of Granny Weatherwax, who reappears in several later "Discworld" novels.

Plot summary

The wizard Drum Billet knows that he will soon die and travels to a place where an eighth son of an eighth son is about to be born. This signifies that the child is destined to become a wizard (on the Discworld, the number eight has many of the magical properties that are ascribed to seven in the real world), Billet wants to pass his wizard's staff on to his successor.

However, the newborn child is actually a girl, Esk (full name Eskarina Smith). Since Billet notices his mistake too late, the staff passes on to her. As Esk grows up, it becomes apparent that she has uncontrollable powers, and the local witch Granny Weatherwax decides to travel with her to the Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork to help her gain the knowledge required to properly manage her powers.

But a female wizard is something completely unheard of on the Discworld. Esk is unsuccessful in her first, direct, attempt to gain entry to the University, but Granny Weatherwax finds another way in; as a servant. While there, Esk witnesses the progress of an apprentice wizard named Simon, whom she had met earlier, on her way to Ankh-Morpork. Simon is a natural talent who invents a whole new way of looking at the universe that reduces it to component numbers. His magic, however, is so powerful that it causes a hole to be opened into the Dungeon Dimensions.

Eskarina and Simon discover the weakness of the creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions - if you "can" use magic, but "don't", they become scared and weakened. They both manage to transport themselves back into the Discworld. Together they develop a new kind of magic, based on the notion that the greatest power is the ability not to use all the others.


For reasons never explained, Esk has so far not appeared in the "Discworld" novels again, although Terry Pratchett has hinted at the possibility of bringing her back. Although Esk was the main character in the book, the only character (besides Death, Mrs Whitlow, and The Librarian) who would appear again after the book was Granny Weatherwax. During his Wintersmith tour, in response to a question about what happened to Esk, Pratchett said that Esk might have an appearance in the next Tiffany Aching book. Prior to this, most fans assumed she had died in the destructive war featured in "Sourcery".

The specific events of the book have so far not come up again; the next 'witches' book, "Wyrd Sisters", starts off with a virtually clean slate. Later in the series, in "Lords and Ladies", Granny mentions to Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully of Unseen University that she has been there a few times before and in "Maskerade" she surprises Nanny Ogg by revealing that she has stayed at Rosie Palm's. Another near-mention occurs when Granny asserts that she learned to fly "late in life" – an event that occurs in "Equal Rites".


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External links

* [http://www.lspace.org/books/apf/equal-rites.html Annotations for "Equal Rites"]
* [http://www.lspace.org/books/pqf/equal-rites.html Quotes from "Equal Rites"]
* [http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Misc/tpspeech.html "Why Gandalf Never Married"] : 1985 talk by Pratchett discussing issues of gender and magic later elaborated in "Equal Rites"


Sources: [http://www.colin-smythe.com/terrypages/tpindex.html Colin Smythe Ltd] , [http://babelfish.altavista.com Babelfish translation] .

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