Mark Reads ‘Wyrd Sisters’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of Wyrd Sisters, Granny races to complete her spell. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Wyrd Sisters.

This was so exciting to read! Of course, I’m left to imagine what the implications of Granny’s spell will be. (Bravo on all the lovely folks who came up with the splits because this was a perfect point to stop in order to maximize the affect it had on me.) Pratchett settles into the moment here, switching between Granny’s perspective and Magrat’s, and it’s one of the more urgent things he’s written. I think part of that comes from something that appears later in this section:

Doubt.

Throughout Granny’s race to the Lancre bridge, she’s dealt numerous possible setbacks. And despite that she manages to conquer all of them by herself or with help from her fellow witches, I admit that I started to worry. What if she didn’t make it to Lancre before night ended? What if she wasn’t able to pull off the spell? What if the spell worked, but not in the way she intended? What if some outside variable suddenly reared its head, reminding me that I’m never prepared for anything I’m reading? It’s not that I believed Granny wasn’t capable. If anything, this book has made it clear that Granny gets precisely what she wants. But… WHAT IF? And how was this going to work?

Well, Granny was going to make it work, and that’s where Nanny Ogg and Magrat came in. Witch pit-stops! There’s two legs to Granny’s vicious flight, which is a race against time and in support of time and my brain hurts trying to think of all the possibilities here. (And while we’re at it, there are so many mind-melting puns here, I swear. HOKI. A HOKEY LOKI. And that “foolish” pun is ridiculous, too. Get it? He’s is acting like a fool and a Fool. HELP.) Both times, she’s refueled with food, drink, and magic, which is more or less transferred from one witch to another. It’s like an instant magical charge! Can we also acknowledge how utterly adorable Magrat’s “idea of sustaining food” was? I’m a sucker for presentation.

Of course, Granny came up with a number of magical concerns she might have, which included her broom needing fool, but did not consider the logistical nightmares she might face while racing across the forest. One such example? Flying through a thick mist and then jetting up into a significantly colder atmosphere, which FREEZES HER BROOM. This leads to an utterly breathless sequence where Nanny races faster than gravity (FASTER THAN GRAVITY!) to snatch up Granny from certain death. (I love that Granny makes her promise not to do it again. Lord, I hope she never has to do something like that again.)

And then she does it. She moves the kingdom fifteen years and two months into the future. Like that.

I imagine I’ll have a lot of material to work off of in the next section, so I wanted to spend time talking about Magrat and the Fool, because OH MY GOD, WHAT HAS THIS BOOK BECOME. Magrat coincidentally lands on top of the Fool after plunging from the sky, and I’m definitely going to imagine that there’s a god of the Disc somewhere smiling at themselves for this occurrence. Anyway, the two of them sit and have an unreal conversation about identity and destiny, and it’s one of the most fulfilling things in this whole book. Well, it’s also super heartbreaking, BUT I’LL GET THERE. Let’s start with this.

Magrat thought: Nanny said look at him properly. I’m looking at him. He just looks the same. A sad thin little man in a ridiculous jester’s outfit, he’s practically a hunchback.

Then, in the same way that a few random bulges in a cloud can suddenly become a galleon or a whale in the eye of the beholder, Magrat realized that the Fool was not a little man. He was at least of average height, but he made himself small, by hunching his shoulders, bandying his legs and walking in a half-crouch that made him appear as though he was capering on the spot.

So how will this play out in the rest of the novel? What else will she notice? I think there’s a lot going on here. First of all, given what the Fool will admit to Magrat in the coming pages, it’s clear that the Fool has purposely forced himself to fit his own trope. His training compelled him to do this because… well, that was the only thing available to him. He truly believed that he had no other career options. His father was a Fool, it was a family business, and that was the only thing he could be good at. But I also wonder if there’s another element to this that’s a commentary on how people in general work very hard to portray themselves in a specific way to others. That’s true in the context of dating, and I imagine that there’s probably another layer here, too. What if Nanny Ogg was warning Magrat to be wary of the way men navigate this phenomenon?

All of this doesn’t negate how relentlessly sad it is that the Fool has had his choices limited.  There’s so much here that’s just upsetting, y’all. The way that the sound of bells remind the Fool of sadness and anger. (JESUS, THAT’S SO SAD.) The experience he had training to be a Fool. The manner in which Pratchett takes all these things that would be funny in another context and strips them of all humor, which is the POINT! A rigid, rule-obeying sense of humor isn’t funny. (Which I struggle with sometimes when writing about the Discworld series. There are few things I find less enjoyable then breaking down jokes and explaining why they’re funny. It’s the easiest way to suck humor out of something.) Not only that, but it didn’t make the Fool happy. There’s no joy in making the people in his life laugh.

And then we’ve got Magrat’s confessions about being a witch. OH NO.

“Yes, but when do you actually become a witch?”

“When the other witches treat you as one, I suppose.” Magrat sighed. “If they ever do,” she added. “I thought they would after I did that spell in the corridor. It was pretty good, after all.”

My heart has SHATTERED INTO A TRILLION PIECES. Magrat wants validation, but given what she knows of other witches, that’s not something she’s going to get easily:

“It’s just that, well, when you’re a witch you don’t think about other people. I mean, you think about them, but you don’t actually think about their feelings, if you see what I mean.”

I don’t know if that’s universally true, since Magrat doesn’t behave this way, and I’d even offer up Nanny Ogg as another example of this not applying to everyone. Perhaps Magrat is projecting this because of Granny, who she is absolutely referring to. (Come on, Granny’s flight behavior is evidence of this.) Regardless, it’s been hard for Magrat to feel like she’s earned the identity of “witch” because her methods are so frequently questioned. Unlike fools, who go through such rigorous testing in order to earn the name, Magrat’s been drifting with uncertainty this whole time. Is she a witch if other’s don’t see her that way?

WOW, OVERWHELMED BY FEELINGS.

So, the Fool and Magrat kissed for over fifteen years. That’s weird.

The original text contains use of the word “stupid.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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