Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Discworld

Has anyone read any of these? I'm a massive fan and must have read some of them 15 or 20 times. They are satirical fantasy written by Terry Pratchett, he who has just been awarded a knighthood, and they number 36 books so far.

Anyway I just re-read A Hat Full of Sky, one of the Young Adult ones, and was struck yet again by how good they are. This one deals with themes of loss, finding your roots and yourself and growing up, stepping out to become an adult.

Granny Weatherwax (the most senior and powerful head witch) teaches Tiffany Aching, (our young protagonist) about witching and the difference between right and wrong, and why it's important that witches don't cross that line.

I say teaches, it's more like she points Tiffany in the right direction, because knowledge that you aint gained yourself aint worth a damn. Plus, Tiffany (whose name means Land Under Sea, appropriate because she lives on the Chalk) has already got all the power and knowledge she'll ever have, she's just gotta unlock it for herself and understand it. Now, it in't like most fantasy novels where the withes do big showy glittery magic. Most of Discworld witching is about not using your power and about helping those that acn't help themselves, and something called headology. Like psychology, but considerably less wanky. It occurred to me on this reading that witching on the Discworld is similar to old style nursing, but a damn sight more respected. Course, if you ain't got respect you've got nothing.

Can you tell a large part of my morality and philosophy comes from these books? I used to read avidly as a child, I read everything I could. Then I hit adolescence, got depressed and pretty much quit reading. For 3 or 4 years the only thing I read regularly was the Discworld books. They were very important to me and one of the few things that I could focus on and get when I was in that state. That and music. I read the music papers cover to cover every week and month, but the only stories I could get were the Discworld ones.
As I was starting to come out of my fug, I picked up books again, and now, again, all I do is read. Except lately, it's mostly comics.

Anyway, back to my original point about Mistress Weatherwax. In a Hat Full of Sky she taught Tiffany about witching. In Equal Rites she teaches Eskarina about magic and wizardry.
I think it would be really good to do a comparison of the two books, of Esk and Tiffany and of Granny's teachings. I sure as hell in't gonna do it - I know I'm not, that's too big a topic and too time intensive and I'm too lazy. Plus, I did an essay on one of the other books - Witches Abroad, at Uni, and it wasn't very good. Literary criticism was not my forte. It's possible I'm getting better and relearning the skills, at least I hope so.

But if someone else were to do such a comparison that'd be ace!


Sarah said...

A challenge for the weekend methinks! I may even post it on the blog (although then it will have to have a distinctive leaning towards the younger readers)

Saranga said...

Yay do it! And please post it online I'd love to read it :)