In the thirteenth and final part of Equal Rites, Esk and Simon find a way to make magic better. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of sexism.
I think the rain metaphor used here works as a way to say that with Eskarina and Granny ushered in a cleansing of Unseen University, though, like the streets of Ankh-Morpork, I imagine there will be a lot of silt and dirt and trash left behind. What they accomplish here is huge, no doubt, but I don’t imagine that Esk or any of the girls who followed her had it terribly easy. Even if you accept that everyone has the best of intentions, it’s clear from this section that the wizards have a lot of their own issues and preconceptions to work through.
Sorry, I’m speculating a lot here, but I feel like I have to since Equal Rites ends so abruptly. I hope that means either the next book or one later in the series will return to one of these characters. Or both! YES. I have no idea, and that’s really exciting??? I probably have a ton of oft-featured characters I haven’t even met.
LET’S MOVE ON FROM THIS BECAUSE Y’ALL CAN’T EVEN TELL ME ANY OF THIS. As Unseen University faces what must be the worst flood ever, we follow Treatle as he… well, acts really annoyed. Super annoyed. And I’m reminded again of how the wizards in this world are generally useless because they’re so convinced of their own importance:
He’d tried to organize the senior wizards into repairing the roof by magic, but there was a general argument over the spells that could be used and a consensus that this was in any case work for artisans.
That’s wizards for you, he thought gloomily as he waded between the dripping arches, always probing the infinite but never noticing the definite, especially in the matter of household chores. We never had this trouble before that woman came.
Ah, yes, blame the woman, despite that one of the big reasons wizards can’t deal with the “matter of household chores” is because THAT’S THE ONLY THING YOU LET WOMEN DO IN YOUR GODDAMN UNIVERSITY. So I wasn’t surprised that he’s the first (but not only) wizard to freak out about Granny… what? Doing anything inside the University. Walking! Flying! Talking! It’s all against lore! Which wasn’t actually written down, was it? Or maybe it was written down everywhere, but who cares? I think Cutangle not only came to respect Granny, but realize that there was a problem after seeing how two women, both very different ages, were able to do things none of the wizards could do. Of course, I have to do speculating here because we don’t spend that much time in Cutangle’s head in the end. (Except when he’s sexualizing Granny, which is just awkward and has weird implications for the narrative. You shouldn’t be not-sexist because women are pretty, lord.) I don’t actually know what it is that changed his mind, you know? I suppose you could say it was desperation. He knew Granny was telling the truth about Esk’s magic, and he suspected that she was right about Esk’s inability to do anything with the staff since she wasn’t officially a wizard. It’s because they give her the little wizard hat (WHICH IS SUPER CUTE) and make her a “proper” wizard that the staff appears in the Dungeon Dimensions.
Anyway, let’s discuss the Dungeon Dimensions before I get back to this point. Because y’all. Y’ALL. I WAS SO CLOSE TO FIGURING THIS OUT:
Is it possible that… I don’t know. Non-magic attacks are their antithesis? If they’re attracted by magic, what about offensive maneuvers that have nothing to do with magic?
So close?!?!?!? This is actually really cool to me because I’m so often drifting ignorantly through this, and it’s fun to actually realize that I picked up some of the things an author was trying to convey to me. Yes, I wasn’t wholly right. It wasn’t non-magic that was the key here. Eskarina figures out that it’s the refusal to do magic when you can that holds the weakness to the things. And I think that’s inherently a commentary on power. The wizards held power (even in terms of social structures) and exercised that power constantly. Unlike Eskarina or Granny or any of the witches, they’d never considered the concept of restraint in their application of magic. I do love, though, that Simon listens to Esk. He becomes excited about the possibility of exploring these concepts of magic even further, and it’s that sort of youthful excitement that the wizards lacked.
Esk and Simon return to their world, healthy and themselves, which is very good and not terrifying at all and no, I will not think about body invasion any more than I have to. In coming back, both Esk and Simon lose something. Esk’s staff becomes a stick. Literally. And Simon loses his stutter! I don’t know what this means. They matured? They became proper wizards? Something? There’s a lot of growth across the board for nearly everyone of the bigger named characters. Cutangle reveals that they’re most likely going to invite more women to Unseen University, and then he offers Granny a teaching job! Her answer demonstrates her own changes, too, since this is a woman who was morally opposed to large cities. And now she’s considering living in one, all so she can teach young girls about using magic. Well, witch magic, too, I should say! I like that Cutangle wasn’t trying to limit what she could teach. (I imagine he’d’ve gotten a strict stare if he tried.)
The book just sort of ends after this, but not before Pratchett delivers that joke about ants, Drum Billet, longevity, and the lack of longevity. It’s a strange conclusion because… well, it’s over so suddenly. What’s going on with Esk? Is she happy? Thrilled? Intimidated? What’s her experience like living with nothing but boys? Does she live with Granny and then just visit the school each day? What about everyone who works for Whitlow? Can any of them be allowed upstairs now? I suppose that my desire for so many answers comes from an implicit joy, since I had a blast reading this book, and now I’m being whiny because I WANT SO MUCH MORE. But I’ve got plenty of Discworld to read, and it’s entirely possible someone in this book might show up in another. I guess I’ll have to find out! Apparently, there’s no need for a prediction post before I begin Mort, so I’ll be starting that this Tuesday! HUZZAH!
The original text contains uses of the word “mad.”
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