Mark Reads ‘Wyrd Sisters’: Chapter 9

In the ninth part of Wyrd Sisters, Granny Weatherwax decides it’s time to break the rules. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of ableism regarding mental illness.

ALL HAIL THIS BOOK, I’M SO EXCITED.

I’m willing to bet that there isn’t going to be some massive jump in time so that Tomjon can reclaim his throne. The events chronicled in this section all help to explain why Granny, the one witch who has been most resistant to meddling out of the trio, now doesn’t want to waste any time meddling. It’s such a satisfying thing to read, and just in terms of how it’s written, it’s organized well. What happens in this section is informed by so much that came before it, both so that I can understand why Granny is going to contradict herself and so that I can feel TERRIBLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.

I wasn’t surprised that Granny was so furious with Duke Felmet, but I was initially shocked at the level of her anger. I say initially because the more Felmet spoke, the more I despised him and understood precisely why Granny was so angry. I got the sense that Granny is simply not used to being bested. Like… ever. Of course, to make matters worse, Felmet continues to rub Granny’s face in his victory and guarantee that the people of Lancre and the Ramtops begin to change their perception of witches. He forces them to wave at the gathering crowd, he compels Granny to “say a few words,” and he also says this:

“People of Lancre,” he cried, “do not be afeared! I am your friend. I will protect you from the witches! They have agreed to leave you in peace!”

Truly, Felmet controls everything here, and the witches don’t have any way to combat his lies or his power, and it’s kind of frightening, you know? There’s nothing funny about what he does here. (There’s humor in Nanny proudly waving to her family, though. BLESS HER HEART.) He knows exactly what he’s doing. That’s why I’d prefer that his behavior was not compared to depressives because… well, first of all, it’s not the same thing. I understood that this was meant to convey his mood changes, but it instead falsely compares them to depression. Felmet is choosing to be a horrible king, you know?

Anyway, let’s discuss Nanny and Magrat’s conversation about the fool before we get to Granny’s big decision. I know that Nanny is a constant source of humor within the narrative, and it’s very easy to make some of these jokes. Namely, she’s the one who is far more sexual and knowledgable about sex than the other witches. But when she talks to Magrat about the fool, she’s so caring and kind about dispensing advice. Again, it’s not funny at all, and I appreciate it a lot. She’s telling Magrat that she needs to have some sense about how she views the Fool so that she’s not so consumed by her feelings for him. And those feelings are bad, per se, but Nanny advises Magrat to “have a look at him like a witch, not a woman.” Nanny can tell that the Fool is playing into the very stereotype he inhibits. (Does that make Nanny the first character to recognize that the Fool is not much of a fool at all?)

I also loved that when Magrat and Nanny finally join Granny Weatherwax to attempt to comfort her, it reminded me what good friends they were. It wasn’t that long ago that they’d temporarily disbanded the coven, and here they are, talking to one another honestly about what’s to be done with Duke Felmet. Granny, unsurprisingly, is stubborn about what should be done. That includes asking for help from no one, to it’s important to note that Nanny is one the same page as Granny. Witches don’t ask for help!

“But you asked a demon to help you,” said Magrat.

“No, we didn’t,” said Granny.

“Right. We didn’t.”

“We ordered it to assist.”

“S’right.”

BLESS. The problem the witches face, though, is one that has greater implications for the whole of magic on the Disc. I feel like I’m understanding how this world works better than I ever have before because of this book! That whole passage about how Nature protects itself from magic by making witches and wizards disagreeable helped to explain SO MUCH about the culture I’ve seen at work in these books. Plus, I feel like I get why Granny has resisting meddling this whole time:

“But when you get along in the Craft, you learn that the hardest magic is the sort you don’t use at all.”

Granny respects the responsibility of power that she holds. She accepts that a reliance on magic to do everything would only make things worse, and that means she has to struggle with not doing magic, despite that she may now the perfect solution to a problem that would utilize it. So when King Verence, traveling along with Nanny Ogg in a stone from the castle, appears to ask for Granny’s help in putting Tomjon on the throne, she resists. She tells Verence that they’ll have to wait until he’s older, which makes sense, but even then, how much would she help Tomjon with his “destiny”?

What finally pushes Granny over the edge (and into a ditch) is… a cart. It’s a silly joke because why aren’t they moving out of her way. But it’s meant to be a sign of the influence that Felmet has had on the people who should know how to behave towards a witch.

“You could have got out of the way,” said Magrat.

Get out of the way?” said Granny. “We’re witches! People get out of our way!”

Again, extremely funny, and then SUDDENLY IT’S REALLY SCARY.

“Laughed at! Laughed at! On my own roads! In my own country!” screamed Granny. “That just about does it! I’m not taking ten more years of this! I’m not taking another day of it!”

The trees around her began to sway and the dust from the road sprang up into writing shapes that tried to swirl out of her way. Granny Weatherwax extended one long arm and at the end of it unfolded one long finger and from the tip of its curving nail there was a brief flare of octarine fire.

Half a mile down the track all four wheels fell off the cart at once.

IT’S HAPPENING. Holy shit, Granny is fed up, she’s going to break all the rules, and she’s going to do it in style:

“When you break the rules, break ’em good and hard,” said Nanny, and grinned a set of gums that were more menacing than teeth.

SIGN ME UP. I’M SO READY FOR THIS, HOLY SHIT.

The video contains use of the words “mad” and “maniac.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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