Mark Reads ‘Wyrd Sisters’: Part 2

In the second part of Wyrd Sisters, a duke discovers he’s not quite king yet, while Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax discover the theater. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.Well, that was one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of stereotypes related to size and gender

Duke Felmet

All right, so I got one tiny detail wrong. Verence’s son wasn’t kidnapped, so much as he was… protected? I guess that technically, he was still taken away from his home. Regardless, it’s confirmed that this kid was brought to Granny Weatherwax to save his life and prevent Duke Felmet from becoming king himself. It was Verence’s loyal servant (who just can’t be trusted!) who was responsible for it. But… why Granny Weatherwax? Was he looking for any witch and just coincidentally came upon Granny? Or did he seek her out?

Anyway, I assume we’ll find out more about that later. I was surprised that Verence’s point-of-view wasn’t featured in this segment, and I’m intrigued by getting to see things from Duke Felmet’s point of view. He doesn’t actually seem all that ecstatic about becoming king; indeed, it’s highly suggested that he mostly does what his wife wants him to do. I thought it was cool that Lady Felmet was the more powerful and ruthless person, but I’m hoping that she’s more than just a stereotype of a mean fat lady:

She was a large and impressive woman, who gave people confronting her for the first time the impression that they were seeing a galleon under full fail; the effect was heightened by her unfortunate belief that red velvet rather suited her.

Okay, the focus on her appearance (while simultaneously ignoring every chance to make even a passing remark about Duke Felmet’s physical appearance) is a bit too much for me, since Pratchett needs to communicate to us that Lady Felmet is large. What do we get after that? Repeatedly displays of her harshness and propensity for nagging. Great. I want there to be something more than this in her characterization, and I hope later sections will give me that. I want to know how much of this conspiracy she came up with! Is she the mastermind here? Does Duke Felmet just play along?

I suppose this is so distracting to me because Pratchett follows this up with a fantastic example of flipping expectations and tropes, all without the sort of humor that feels cruel. The Fool is HILARIOUS, because it’s clear he’s hiding his own brilliance under the banner of being a fool, except he forgets to act like one here:



So, Verence is pleased that his son is in the hand of witches! I still don’t know how he’s going to help out if he’s confined to the place of his death.

But that’s for another post. We have to major things to talk about here! First of all, the witches now have a baby who is obviously royalty. Granny wants nothing to do with it, Magrat is eager to fulfill destiny, and Nanny Ogg is too busy fawning over the cutie to really comment much on anything. It’s a sudden and jarring development for all of them, and that’s why Granny forces them to discuss what they’re going to do with this child. She recognizes that it’s only a matter of time before people come looking for him, and it’s only going to make their lives more complicated. While they agree that the child needs to be taken far from the Ramtops, they’re less certain about what to do about the Lancre crown, which gives us this beautiful line:

“How many times have you thrown a magic ring into the deepest depths of the ocean and then, when you get home and have a nice bit of turbot for your tea, there it is?”

BLESS. But it is a serious issue, especially once Granny realizes the power of that specific crown. I don’t know if this is the case with all royally-associated jewelry, but the Lancre crown retains an entire history within it, only accessed when you put it on your head. It’s kind of unsettling, isn’t it? What Granny glimpses in the few seconds she has it on her head is pretty horrifying. Indeed, why do men want to be kings?

I also like that there’s some discussion here of the generational gap between the older witches and Magrat. It’s a nice follow up to what we knew of witches from Equal Rites. (I still want Esk to make an appearance, CAN THIS HAPPEN.)  I think that informs a lot of the humor in the only other scene in this book, but I’m interested to see how these witches approach their situation. What I’m hoping is that Magrat is able to prove herself and show the others that her ways are worth of being a witch, even though they’re different and “modern.”

But, again, we’re still in the early parts of Wyrd Sisters. The plot has settled down, we’re learning who these characters are, and that means that Pratchett can give us a lengthy scene where Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg go to their first theater performance. That sentence cannot communicate the perfection of this because it’s impossible to do so in one sentence. They discover theater with literally not a shred of context. When I say they have no understanding of it, this is what I mean:

Granny was not to be distracted. “What’d he go and kill him for, then?” she said.

“Well, it’s a bit complicated –” said Magrat, weakly.

“It’s shameful!” snapped Granny. “And the poor dead thing still lying there!”

Magrat gave an imploring look to Nanny Ogg, who was masticating an apple and studying the stage with the glare of a research scientist.

“I reckon,” she said slowly, “I reckon it’s all just pretendin’. Look, he’s still breathing.”

The rest of the audience, who by now had already decided that this commentary was all part of the play, stared as one man at the corpse. It blushed.

“And look at his boots, too,” said Nanny critically. “A real king’d be ashamed of boots like that.”

The corpse tried to shuffle its feet behind a cardboard bush.

It’s the sincerity of it all that does me in, y’all. There’s not a shred of irony here; these two are genuinely trying to understand the very nature of ACTING. I don’t feel like picking apart all the jokes (THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM) because this is a beautiful, precious thing that should be preserved at all costs. (Wait, I have to say that when Granny identified the killer, I was certain that this was the high point of Wyrd Sisters. It’s all downhill from here, nothing is better in this book, everyone go home.) What am I interested in, however, is what Granny wants with these people, particularly Vitoller. I only realized upon writing this review that the baby is… where? Where did they put the child??? You can’t just leave babies by themselves while you go to the theater! I’m guessing that this is how they’ll figure out how to deal with the crown and the child, but… I don’t have any theories, y’all. I’m stumped.

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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