I am late to discover Terry Pratchett, you might even say that I am nearly of age with the old crones starring in this novel. Having discovered him, I have fallen in love with Pratchett's sense of humor, and am awed by his sly commentary on life. If you have read my post about Tiffany Aching, the young witch, you will already know this.
I take stories seriously: so seriously that I spent part
of one summer at the University of Minneapolis studying Fairy Tales and Critical Literacy.
Therefore, I loved the introduction that dealt with the role of stories.
"... on the Discworld people take things seriously.
Because stories are important.
People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it's the other way around.
Stories exist independent of their players. If you know that, the knowledge is power.
great flapping ribbons of shaped space-time, have been blowing and
uncoiling around the universe since the beginning of time. And they have
evolved. The weakest have died and the strongest have survived and they
have grown fat on the retelling ... stories, twisting and blowing
through the darkness.
And their very existence overlays a faint but
insistent pattern on the chaos that is history. Stories etch grooves
deep enough for people to follow in the same way that water follows
certain paths down a mountainside. And every time fresh actors tread the
path of the story, the groove runs deeper.
This is called the theory
of narrative causality and it means that a story once started, takes a
shape. It picks up all the other workings of that story that have ever
This is why history keeps on repeating all the time.
thousand heroes have stolen fire from the gods. A thousand wolves have
eaten grandmother, a thousand princesses have been kissed. A million
unknowing actors have moved, unknowing, through the pathways of story.
don't care who takes part in them. All that matters is that the story
gets told, that the story repeats. Or, if you prefer to think of it like
this: stories are a parasitical life form, warping lives in the service
only of the story itself.
It takes a special kind of person to fight back, and become the bicarbonate of history."
is of course the admirable witches from the Discworld: Nanny Ogg,
Magrat Garlick, and Granny Weatherwax, who take on this role. I love the
interaction between them. I love their bickering, their bawdiness, and
their interpretations of foreign places and foreigners. But mostly I
love their humanity and their integrity.
Perhaps this wasn't quite as scintillating as I would have liked, but I still enjoyed reading it. A Lot.
Alas it is probably a book for adults rather than kids in my elementary school. I doubt children, and even teens, have the sophistication to understand and appreciate the many nuances that make this book a keeper.