Mark Reads ‘Witches Abroad’: Part 16

In the sixteenth and final part of Witches Abroad, Granny and Lily learn how stories come to an end. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

For a moment there, I thought Lily Weatherwax was going to change her mind.

There are a number of surprising moments in this last part of Wtiches Abroad, and the sheer weirdness of this all has made it a hell of a lot of fun. That being said, I think there’s still a chilling tone to the major “fight” between Lilith and Esme, though calling it a “fight” feels like I’m selling this short. It’s a battle of wills and minds and intelligence, and it’s just so vicious. I think you can see that in Lilith’s desperation as she relies entirely on magic to combat her sister. But at first? I seriously thought she was going to allow her own story to end. She seemed tired as she spoke to Granny about inevitability:

“You shouldn’t treat people like they was characters, like they was things. But if you do, then you’ve got to know when the story ends.”

“You’ve got to put on your red-hot shoes and dance the night away?” said Lily.

“Somethin’ like that, yes.”

“While everyone else lives happily after?”

“I don’t know about that,” said Granny. “That’s up to them. What I’m sayin’ is, you’re not allowed to go around one more time. You’ve lost.”

But that’s what Lilith ultimately couldn’t accept. She couldn’t lose, so she used magic for violence. For threats. For a demonstration of power all so that she could remain at the center of the story. So Granny Weatherwax, recognizing that her refusal to use magic puts her at a disadvantage to her sister, concedes that she’s lost.

And leaps off of the tower.

Now, this is the same woman who just stuck her hand in a torch in order to use headology against Mrs. Gogol. Still, I was UPSET because… how??? How could Granny survive a fall that far with her terrible broom?

Well, through magic.

Maybe not the same kind as Lilith, but Granny does use magic. That uniqueness is what makes her the kind of witch that she is, so I found the resolution to their fight satisfying because it was so in-character. It took me a re-read to understand that Granny had trapped Lilith within the mirror world; it’s not exactly the most clear sequence within the book, but I’m fairly certain that’s what happens here. There’s a viciousness to the argument they have, though, isn’t there? I mean, look at this passage again:

“But because, and I wants you to understand this prop’ly, after you went I had to be the good one. You had all the fun. An’ there’s no way I can make you pay for that, Lily, but I’m surely goin’ to give it a try…”

Like… Granny is a cruel character at times, quick to use her brutal honesty when she sees fit, but what the hell. At first, I thought that Lily had imagined her, but there’s a later section that confirms that Granny really was in the mirror world. The only reason she was able to escape? She could recognize her self amidst all the copies. And lord, what a powerful statement that is. Lilith had gotten so used to be everywhere and being everything to everyone that she’d lost sight of who she was in the end. So… I imagine she’s stuck in that world forever.

That’s… really disturbing.

It’s also the end of this story and many others. Legba becomes the myth he’s grown into after Mrs. Gogol lets him go. (Still feel really, really weird about the use of Papa Legba here.) Magrat discards of her wand, aware that she no longer needs it. And Granny tries on the hat that Mrs. Gogol gave her days earlier, discovering that it might be foreign, but it’s also kind of cool.

At least I think so.

But the witches abroad traveled far and wide for this journey, all to set the Discworld just a little bit straighter, all while changing their perspective on the world in the process. See, I read that final scene as three people who traveled abroad for the first time quietly admitting that they actually enjoyed themselves. I see the three witches as having grown in their understanding of the world and just a little bit eager to see more of it. I also hope that if the witches return again – and I really want them to – Pratchett grows them from this point. I don’t think they’ve ever understood one another better than they do at the end of Witches Abroad. If there’s anything here that made this journey worth it, it’s that. I love character development deeply and truly, and seeing Magrat, Nanny, and Granny become closer and more respectful has been a rewarding thing.

Small Gods is up next!

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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