Mark Reads ‘Witches Abroad’: Part 13

In the thirteenth part of Witches Abroad, the witches infiltrate the castle to try and stop Lilith. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent and coercion.


Magrat the Princess

There is some strange shit in here, but the chaotic nature of this chapter ends up feeling charming for the most part. But there’s few things I like more in this book than getting to see the witches change. While I’d say that Magrat and Granny have a more gradual transformation over the course of Witches Abroad, this chapter provides us with a chance to see a temporary but intense development for both of these characters. I wanted to start with Magrat because MY FEELINGS ARE TOO MUCH.

Yes, Magrat is hypnotized into becoming a princess, but SHE GETS TO BECOME A PRINCESS. It’s more astounding to me that she isn’t physically changed so much as mentally altered, though I’m hoping that this is consensual; Pratchett isn’t terribly certain about this, nor does he define that when it comes to Lady Volenta. What I want to know is whether or not Magrat is totally conscious during this experience. Will she remember it? Will it matter to her, or does the hypnotization override that? The only reason I’m asking these questions is because I want Magrat to be able to enjoy some part of this, especially since it’s been a dream of hers. And don’t many of us wish to be the center of attention, to be desired, to be waited on, to feel confident and sure of ourselves? I think Pratchett does a fine job of criticizing this culture and making them the butt of a brilliant joke, but I don’t get the sense that he’s saying Magrat is silly for wanting to be a part of it, you know?

Plus, I think it’s just plain entertaining to see Magrat in a new light, even if she is acting like an asshole. It’s actually a lot of fun! It never seemed possible that she’d behave as she does here, so in that sense, it might actually be better if she doesn’t remember behaving in a way that’s a lot more like… well, Granny Weatherwax. I mean, granted, Granny doesn’t go around calling people “peasants” and “lackeys,” but STILL. They’re a lot more similar than not.

I just… oh my god. Magrat as the mysterious stranger, men flocking to her to do her every bidding, IT’S ALL SO DELICIOUSLY WEIRD.

Two Witches in a Palace

And then Pratchett takes this even further by sticking Granny and Nanny into the palace, where both characters make transformations of their own. Like Magrat’s subplot, both these people infiltrate the castle with the aim of disrupting the story, so their changes are a necessary part of their attempts to foil Lilith. But Granny and Nanny finally put together one of the few remaining puzzles of this nightmare when Granny realizes that multiple stories are unfolding, not just Cinderella.

Of course, that happens through a scene of ABJECT HORROR, since we find out the Duc is AN ACTUAL FROG. I was actually quite confused about this when I was reading it, but I feel a whole lot more certain that this is what Pratchett was referring to with the flies and the cover in the Duc’s room. Why else would there be references to the Duc requiring a kiss? It’s got to be the Princess and the Frog, right? Lord, this is so disturbing.

Yet it’s all super funny to me, too. The thought of Nanny and Granny bickering about princely chambers, dancing, and wooing men is a beautiful thing to me, as is them discovering just how difficult it is to dress fancy. And I un-ironically adored this passage:

“I’ve never been vain,” said Granny Weatherwax. “You know that, Gytha. No one could ever call me vain.”

“No, Esme,” said Nanny Ogg.

Granny twirled a bit.

“Are you ready then, Dame Ogg?”

“Yes. Let’s do it, Lady Weatherwax.”

There’s a sense of adventure and exhilaration here that I found satisfying because these two women were finally allowed to be something different for a night. Despite that Granny was still criticizing everything in sight – from the buffet to the dress to Magrat’s behavior – she was ready to try something new: dancing. Because goddamn it, a witch can do anything they put their mind to. The same goes for Nanny Ogg, who accepts a dance invitation from a dwarf because why not?

It’s going to be one hell of a party. Death’s enjoying himself (and hopefully only observing events, rather than participate in them), and Greebo is… good lord. Enjoying himself as a human? That seems like a gross understatement because Greebo as a human is much like a kid in a candy shop. I STILL DON’T KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT CHARACTERS BEING SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO HIM, IT’S VERY WEIRD.

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

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall 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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