Wyrd Sisters ~ Terry Pratchett

  • Title: Wyrd Sisters
  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Series: Discworld #6
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: Olga
  • Rating: 3 out of 5

Description:  When murder, mayhem and the sudden arrival of a royal baby disturb the monthly cauldron-stirring of three witches, trouble is bound to be brewed up in the little kingdom of Lancre. Kingdoms wobble and crowns topple in this sixth hilarious Discworld adventure!

Review: 
This is one of the earlier books of the series, and not the best one either. I know that most Discworld fans rate this book with 5 awesome stars, but I can’t honestly do that. I think it’s an OK book, definitely weaker than many other novels of the series.

The novel has two distinct parts. In the first part, the king of Lancre is killed, and his murderer, the duke, usurps the throne. At the last moment, a loyal servant spirits away the infant prince, the rightful heir, and the three witches, seemingly the protagonists of the novel, hide the baby from the lethal wrath of the usurper.

This part of the plot has many allusions to Macbeth, albeit in a spoofy kind of way, including the storm, the three witches, the vengeful ghost, and the wicked, ambitious duchess. The story is slow, dragging and meandering without any obvious direction, until the writer and the witches decide to speed things up. Together, they hurtle the kingdom seventeen years into the future, to get the young heir back in circulation pronto.

In the second, mush faster part, the heir is at last of legal age. He can come back to Lancre to claim his father’s throne and oust the evil duke. If he wants to… Which might be a problem.

The lack of focus in this short novel extends to the characters. They are not exactly flat. Rather, they are amorphous, blurry. The duke is by turns frighteningly evil and inept; suffering from the pangs of guilt one moment and hankering for power the next.

The witches are not exactly sympathetic either. They are supposed to be good guys (gals) but they don’t really have a role in this tale except as a collective catalyst, making things happen. But their own personalities and stories are at the periphery of the tale, unimportant. They could’ve been a cardboard manikins and still serve the purpose. Only the duchess has a clear-defined personality – a psychopath.

The most interesting and controversial aspect of this novel is its idea to use art to change history. Words can twist the truth, make it unrecognizable, insists one of the characters, so the duke and duchess commission a play which would introduce their own, revisionists’ version of the night the rightful king was killed.

Fortunately, in the Discworld universe, the play itself resists all the actors’ attempts to tell lies. Eventually the truth prevails, the villains are punished, and everyone lives happily ever after… or at least reaches an approximation of the ‘happily ever after’.

In my experience, this never happens in real life. As far as I know, history is always written by victors. Since the beginning of written records, no full truth ever surfaced, in any country or culture. The idea that the written word can alter reality, or at least the memory of reality, is the only true one in this book.

And to add insult to injury, this novel wasn’t funny at all. It wasn’t a bad book as such, but compared to the other Pratchett’s novels, it was a disappointment. I’m glad I didn’t start reading Discworld with this novel. If I did, I would never have continued with the series. But I read several of his other novels first, so I know how much better it could get. I look forward to another Discworld book.


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