Mark Reads ‘Lords and Ladies’: Part 1

In the first part of Lords and Ladies, it’s time to read on. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

This is an interesting start, I don’t get it, and I’m perfectly fine with that. It’s a start that’s ambiguous in nature because clearly, Pratchett is teasing me with possibilities. At the center of this is a bunch of stones from space, made up of a kind of iron that’s… well, magical. I’m fine stating that because hey! It’s a Discworld novel. Magic is everywhere.

We’ve seen these stones before; I remember reading about them at least once in a past book, and all I knew was that you had to stay away from them. But I was fooled! When Pratchett took us to “fifty years or more before the ever-moving now,” I assumed we were meeting a new character named Esmerelda for the first time. Except doesn’t it make a lot of sense that Granny Weatherwax once approached the very stones she was supposed to stay away from, just because she was curious?

Well, she’s more than just curious. Gods, I should have figured out this was Granny, because what other young woman would be so proud and so fierce when facing an otherworldly being offering the temptation of power? I mean, that is what’s happening here, right? Dark-haired women in red dresses don’t just appear in a mysterious circle of powerful iron stones and offer people puppies. They should, but they don’t.

But good ol’ Esmerelda, she doesn’t want anything from this woman aside from a confirmation that she’s real.

“And now that you have learned this,” said the woman in the circle, “what is it that you really want?”


“Really? Last week you went all the way up to the mountains above Copperhead to talk to the trolls. What did you want from them?”

SHE WANTED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH THEM. THIS IS SO AMAZING TO ME. But doesn’t this seem perfectly in character for a younger version of Granny Weatherwax? She sought out knowledge and understanding when she wanted it and on her own terms. Even when the woman tries to insist that Esmerelda won’t be a witch, she’s certain she will be a witch.

But did she step through the circle or not all those years ago? Something happened, and the witches of Lancre must have stopped the woman in red. Why else would she return, years later, and insist that it was now time for the “land” to “welcome” them? Who are the other figures on horseback? Who is Lankin? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN SOON?

I also find myself intrigued by Jason Ogg’s story here. So, whatever is in this ore is more than just magical. It’s special enough that the Ogg family has passed down a tradition of fitting Death’s horses with new shoes. What mystifies me here is that Death constantly appears to people without any bit of the ceremony that Jason has here. Jason wears a blindfold when Death arrives; he doesn’t touch Death; and the entire affair feels like some kind of mystical ritual that would end in Jason’s death if he didn’t follow it. But… Death doesn’t care about that, not normally.

Hmmm. It’s got to be part of the bargain:

But that was the bargain – you shod anything they brought to you, anything, and the payment was that you could shoe anything. There had always been a smith in Lancre, and everyone knew the smith in Lancre was a very powerful smith indeed.

It was an ancient bargain, and it had something to do with iron.

I don’t get it yet. But I never do this early on in a Discworld book! That’s okay, though, because this is a book about the glorious three witches that I’ve come to love, and I honestly didn’t expect to get one so soon after Witches Abroad. LET’S DO THIS.


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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