Wednesday, February 20, 2008
59. Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett

Everyone knows that when death comes knocking on a wizard's door, and he knows you're home, the only thing to do before you feel his cold bony fingers on your shoulder is to pass on your power to the eighth son of an eighth son. This is how the wizard Drum Billet came to be in the small hamlet of Bad Ass. With Death himself breathing down his neck, Billet quickly passes on his staff and his magic to the newest, and eighth, addition to the local blacksmith's family (himself an eighth son). However, no one bothered to check the baby's sex before Billet slumps to the floor, dead as a doornail.

Eight year old Eskarina Smith is on her way to Unseen University to become a wizard, accompanied by her guardian, the local witch Granny Weatherwax. Someone should have warned the university's faculty. When the two show up unexpectedly, they're greeted with the oft-repeated phrase "Women can't be Wizards" and are turned away. Granny manages to get Esk a job working in the university's laundry in the hopes that she'll be able to learn how to become a wizard secretly, sneaking into lectures and the library but it's not as easy as it seems for this precocious little girl.

Her boring domestic life takes a sudden turn when her only friend, a stuttering student genius named Simon, accidentally channels creatures from the depths of the dungeons bent on taking over the Discworld and it's up to this powerful prodigy to save him, the university and the entire world. When you're saddled with a staff who's got a mind of it's own and an administration bent on excluding the oppposite sex, that's quite a task for someone who hasn't even hit puberty. Equal Rites is the third in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series and once again, it's hilarious. I love the way Pratchett tackles today's most powerful and often contentious issues and gives them a hysterical twist. If you haven't had a chance to sample one of the Discworld books, give them a try. Highly recommended.

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