Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 4 stars

It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book. In fact, it’s been a long time since I’ve read any classic-period Discworld and going back to this was absolute joy. Although the witches aren’t my favourite characters, they’re still a lot of fun here. Pratchett often plays with narrative and the idea of stories in his novels and this one is the epitome of that. In the far-off city of Genua a servant girl will marry a prince. Well, she would if it wasn’t for the witches of Lancre, including her newly installed fairy godmother. Who says you can’t fight a Happy Ending?

The first half of the book is hilarious travelogue, as the witches make their way across the Disc to Genua, leaving chaos in their wake. Pratchett uses Granny Weatherwax to slyly poke fun at the British abroad but you’re so busy laughing that you almost don’t notice. The pace changes when we get to our destination. Then the idea of story comes much more to the fore, as Granny and co are trying to fight the idea of a Happy Ending, or, at least, someone’s idea of a Happy Ending.

I always loved mid-period Pratchett the most, before he started going for nuance and depth of character. Here, the witches are archetypes, but so cleverly drawn and placed in such a setting that it’s not important. And it’s still laugh out loud funny, rather than the odd chuckle or wry smile here and there. That’s always a key marker of a good Discworld novel for me – how much it makes me laugh, as well as think. These few years are the sweet spot when Pratchett was, as far as I’m concerned, at the height of his powers.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552134651
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 1991

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