In the tenth part of Wyrd Sisters, I can barely believe what this book has become. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Look, between the humor, the constant Macbeth references, THE TIME TRAVEL, and my utter adoration of the three witches (COME ON, I CAN’T IGNORE IT ANY LONGER) in Wyrd Sisters, I’m certain that this might just be my favorite Discworld book. That’s a tall claim to make when I’ve barely made it through this massive series, but HOW CAN THIS EVER BE TOPPED? Let’s discuss why this is so great.
Political Maneuvers with The Fool
I have a theory as to why the Fool decides to suddenly reveal to the duchess that he’s not much of a fool: self-preservation. There’s a moment in this section where the Fool realizes that the duchess has looked upon him with just a modicum of respect and acknowledgment, and that means that just for the moment, he matters. He recognizes the power that the duke and duchess have, and he knows that they could easily turn against him. So, in a scene that’s both very funny and wickedly clever, the Fool details the power of words.
It’s hard not to see this as a satire of a lot of governments and corporations around the world, and I’m curious if there was something Pratchett had in mind while he was writing this. Regardless, it’s kind of scary how well the Fool is able to describe and explain precisely what the duke needs to do in order to get everything he wants:
“What you do is, you –” he paused for a moment, his lips quickly moving – “you embark upon a far-reaching and ambitious plan to expand the agricultural industry, provide long-term employment in the sawmills, open new land for development, and reduce the scope for banditry.”
You know what I expected to follow this? The same thing that’s happened the last few times the Fool has uttered something that’s way too clever and intelligent: I expected him to pretend as if it had never happened. But he doesn’t. He keeps going. He provides the duke and duchess with every terrible euphemism and plan that will allow them to cut down the forest (which satisfies Felmet’s paranoia) and to raise taxes on everyone, all while selling it to the citizens in a way that makes them like Duke Felmet.
And shit, that part is the most frightening possibility here. I think the Fool is going to continue to be torn between Magrat and the witches and his royal loyalties, but I can’t ignore that what he’s doing here greatly helps Duke Felmet maintain and expand his power. Returning Greebo to Magrat and Nanny is not the same thing as helping someone stay a king. So will he eventually be forced to choose a side?
Let’s also take a moment to appreciate that Felmet is having a play written about him to make people like him, and he killed the last king, and he’s got a ghost hanging around that’s scaring the shit out of him, and bloody daggers and MACBETH MACBETH MACBETH.
The Three Witches
I need to say that I really thought the whole joke with the storm waiting for greater things was brilliant.
So, this book. This book. How great is it that Granny turns to Magrat for the next step of their plan, deferring to her since she knows “all about the coven business.” She’s still reluctant to embrace modern witchcraft fully, but she’s at a point where she can admit that Magrat may have some way of helping them all figure out how to meddle best. Nanny is convinced they should just outright curse Felmet, which I found hilarious. Impractical, yes, and it carried too big of risk, since it could just piss off Felmet and make matters even worse for the kingdom. Of course, Granny’s plan – to put Tomjon on the throne – was also impractical because a child would never survive the process. How could they possibly protect him? And waiting fifteen years for him to be a better age seemed ludicrous as well, right?
“Tonight,” said Granny.
“A child on the throne? He wouldn’t last five minutes.”
“Not a child,” said Granny quietly. “A grown man. Remember Aliss Demurrage?”
There was a silence. Then Nanny Ogg sat back.
“Bloody hell,” she whispered. “You ain’t going to try that, are you?”
“I mean to have a go.”
Yes, I didn’t quite understand what Granny meant by this, but I could pick up from Nanny’s panic that this was going to be ridiculous, scary, and logistically impossible. Was she referring to aging Tomjon until he was old enough??? Maybe??? And who was Aliss Demurrage?
“She turned a pumpkin into a royal coach once,” said Nanny.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME???
“Showy,” said Granny Weatherwax. “That’s no help to anyone, turning up at a ball smelling like a pie. And that business with the glass slipper. Dangerous, to my mind.”
HOW IS THIS HAPPENING. I LOVE IT SO MUCH. So all those fairtytales were one witch? Oh, I am so in favor of this theory! It’s so great!
But let’s talk about what Granny actually wants to attempt. As she started to explain the malleability of time to Magrat, I still thought the end result was that she wanted to use magic to age Tomjon fifteen years. Oh, lord, I wasn’t even close. NOT EVEN CLOSE.
“I wasn’t thinking about that,” said Granny. “It wouldn’t be right. Felmet would still be king all that time. The kingdom would still get sick. NO, what I was thinking of doing was moving the whole kingdom.”
She beamed at them.
“The whole of Lancre?” said Nanny.
“Fifteen years into the future?”
You’re… you’re playing with me. MOVE THE WHOLE THING??? That’s what she’d have to do in order to avoid subjecting the kingdom to fifteen years of Felmet. So she’d actually let Tomjon develop naturally, and the entire kingdom would just meet him in the future. Like… this is a thing that this book just did. And given how manifestations of time travel in past Discworld books have gone, I imagine that this cannot possibly be that simple. What will the gods think??? I suppose that I’ll have to address that if we get there because I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW GRANNY IS GOING TO MOVE AN ENTIRE KINGDOM INTO THE FUTURE.
WHAT THE HELL HAS THIS BOOK BECOME.
Oh my god, I love the idea that Greebo just needs to be spoken to like a pet and he’ll gain a new friend. SEE, JUST BE NICE AND RESPECTFUL TO ANIMALS, Y’ALL. (I say that, but I once had a cat that was pretty much plotting to murder me at all times, and I was so nice to her! She didn’t care, she hated everything ever.) But now I’m a bit worried for the Fool. He’s lost in the woods, Greebo is nowhere to be found, and the ground is “trembling.” What’s that a sign of? Is the kingdom getting impatient, or is it frightened by what Granny just suggested?
I’m so excited to read more of this book, y’all.
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