Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Publisher: Harper, 1988
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: Like any Discworld book, I can definitely see myself giving this one another go.
Reviewed by Pete
If you haven’t read a Discworld novel before, you should. Each one is funny, clever, and heartfelt. The 41-book series may seem daunting, but you can really start wherever. The Internet will tell you that there are several places to start, and there are many debates about the best “introduction” book. I’ve been reading them in publication order, with Wyrd Sisters being my sixth Discworld book.
Discworld is a satirical fantasy series set in a world that is a giant disc resting on the back of a giant cosmic turtle. It’s humorous and insightful, and Pratchett’s writing is always fresh and engaging. In the series’ many books, characters often return, places are revisited, and more of the world’s mysteries are revealed in each book.
While Wyrd Sisters didn’t particularly stand out for me, I enjoyed it quite a bit, and it got me in the Halloween spirit. The book follows three witches—Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick—and their unintentional foray into royal politics. After finding an infant heir to the local throne, they scheme to replace the current murderous king with the baby. They face the obvious obstacle of the heir being a baby, but they’re witches, and they find away around that detail.
This book was more character-oriented and empathetic than Sourcery, the previous book. I particularly liked the multiple character arcs and how they came together in the climax of the book. I often get a bit lost in Discworld climaxes—lots of big magical things happening quickly—and Wyrd Sisters was no different. But I enjoyed the ride so much that it didn’t matter much, though I hope the endings of future Discworld books are a bit less chaotic.
One quirk of Pratchett’s writing that has always made it a bit difficult for me to focus is his lack of speech tags. He often throws five or six characters into a scene and neglects to let the reader know who is speaking for a long time. I can usually figure it out through context, but it has me constantly rereading conversations to figure out what’s going on. However, Pratchett’s writing has been improving with each successive book, and I look forward to seeing how he continues to evolve as a writer.
Equal Rites, the first book in the “Witches” arc, may be a better starting point, but Wyrd Sisters was a delightful and spooky read.