Mark Reads ‘Witches Abroad’: Part 4

In the fourth part of Witches Abroad, the journey continues. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Witches Abroad

I’m sure that Granny Weatherwax would kill me for this, but she’s got a lot in common with wizards when it comes to paying for things, doesn’t she?

“Not having to pay,” she finished, sternly, “is what bein’ a witch is all about.”

That remind anyone else of a group of wizards, standing outside a moving pictures theater? I’m fascinated by the way in which Granny uses people’s perception of witches against them, though sometimes I wonder if she’s just taking advantage of people’s fear, you know? What’s the moral angle to this? Like, can headology actually be a terrible thing?

More on that later. LET’S TALK ABOUT ALL THE WONDERFUL LORD OF THE RINGS REFERENCES. Like, I’m so pleased that I’m reading these books after I conquered Tolkien’s work years ago because the jokes here are so much finnier when I actually understand them. From the reference to lembas to Gollum’s appearance within the story, I was tickled by the parody. Because really, should the hobbits have just cracked Gollum over the head once he showed up at the beginning of the story? GRANNY IS WAY AHEAD OF THE GAME.

Can we also have a moment with this brilliant sentence?

“Thank goodness witches float.”



WELL. WELL. Lilith is so horrendously disturbing, isn’t she? She’s an observational villain until this part, where we get to see her manipulation of The Duc. I feel like Lilith is pulling her motivations from a number of stories instead of just a single one. There’s a reference to the three witches (a reference by Pratchett to the trope and Shakespeare), as well as the use of mirrors in fantasy stories, as well as the role the Duc would normally play in such a story. It’s like she’s spent years collecting all the most popular story tropes, just so she could utilize them to exploit other people. Where she gets he power to do that is a little confusing to me, but I imagine that’s more of a logistical issue than a criticism of the writing. Pratchett is being vague so that he can later reveal exactly what’s going on here.

What I was able to gleam from Lilith’s section is that she believes she can control the story by controlling the elements of it. When The Duc shows awareness of his place within events, she’s able to manipulate him by reminding him of what she can do. (Which is… what? That’s still vaguely defined at this point.) Then there’s this mystifying passage:

Lilith was proud of the Duc. Of course, there was his embarrassing little nocturnal problem, because his morphic field weakened when he slept, but that wasn’t yet a major difficulty. And there was the trouble with mirrors, which showed him as he really was, but that was easily overcome by banning all mirrors save hers. And then there were his eyes. There was practically no magic that could do anything about someone’s eyes. All she had been able to come up with there were the smoked glasses.

Even so, he was a triumph. And he was so grateful. She’d been good for him.

She’d made a man of him, for a start.

Like… LITERALLY???? Are we talking some sort of Dr. Frankenstein creation here? Is he not even human? WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BOOK.

A Nice Little Town Or Something

I like that Witches Abroad feels like the traditional fantasy quest, except everything is an endless mess. After nearly drowning from a waterfall and spending hours flying over a seemingly empty and foreboding forest, the witches come across an inn. Sort of. I mean, it’s “sort of” an inn. And they “sort of” come across it. The point is, they arrive in a place where everyone is pale and every item of food is cooked with garlic and everyone is frighteningly overjoyed that these three witches have showed up. Except that joy is tinged with sadness, and NO ONE SAYS ANYTHING. AT ALL. NOT EVEN ONCE. It’s absolutely unnerving!

So leave it up to Pratchett to turn something so utterly creepy into a scene of freak coincidence and shenanigans. Through nothing but sheer luck – all due to the fact that Nanny Ogg and Granny should probably never share a bed ever – the three witches knock a vampire (in bat form!) off their window sill, allowing Greebo the chance to have a nighttime snack.

They killed a vampire, and they didn’t even know. Oh my god.

Mark Links Stuff

Please help book/finalize the Mark Does Stuff European Tour!
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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