Witches Abroad Discussion Group

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Witches Abroad Discussion Group

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:47 am

Welcome to the Discworld Discussion Group and our very first discussion. :)

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Witches Abroad in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.
Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.
We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavor to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1991

Image

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Once upon a time…

When Desiderata Hollow (fairy godmother and witch) died, she left an important task unfinished. She had to stop a princess from a far off magical kingdom from getting married. She had to stop the wicked witch from making everyone live happy ever after. Knowing she wouldn’t be able to complete the task, she left her fairy godmother wand and the responsibility to Magrat Garlick, with firm instructions not to let the task or the wand fall into the hands of Granny Weatherwax or Nanny Ogg – which says a lot about Desiderata’s skills in Headology!

There are witches abroad and they can’t be having with all this foreign nonsense – but their journey will broaden their horizons.

--------------------------------------------

I really like this book. It’s deceptively simple and very funny. It’s got numerous parodies of other stories in it from Lord of the Rings, to Brothers Grimm and Wizard of Oz. But there is much more to it than that. Terry talks about the way that stories constantly repeat themselves. He talks about the nature of good and evil and the way that power corrupts. But it also looks at all things foreign through the eyes of a tourist. There are some brilliant observations. I’ve read the book dozens of times and still find something new with each reading.

But what do you think? :?
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby bookworm 303 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:16 am

Hi!

A thing that I like the most in this book is that it is show the power of the tales and that a nightmare it would be to live in a fairytale. The way people are trapped in a story also made me think of moving pictures when everyone just know they will go out in the last minute, and because they know it, it happens.
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Postby Perdita X » Mon Jun 01, 2009 10:29 am

Hi All,

Firstly I love all the witches books - headology is my favourite fantasy science. - so this discussion is eagerly anticipated.

WA is (like Maskerade) a coming-of-age book - in this one it's Magrat's turn.

She's keen to go off and "be her own person" with her trousers and her soppiness and her martial arts (courtesy of Lobsang Dibbler).

Granny and Nanny go along ostensibly because Desiderata writes a note saying they are expressly forbidden from interfering - But Granny knows who the other fairy godmother is and can't allow Magrat go alone and face her.

Also Granny needs to find out what has happened to Lileth - so Granny has a journey to make too.

Nanny is, of course absolutely vital in this as a) Granny's rock and b) the lynchpin holding the other two together - because at this stage Granny and Magrat's relationship is a bit "wise parent / surly adolescent".
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Jun 01, 2009 2:25 pm

Or sometimes surly parent and smartypants adolescent :lol: sorry couldn't resist... :oops:

On the LotR point Tony (sorry couldn't resist again... :oops:) I'd completely forgotten about the little pale-eyed miscreant being boinked on the head with an oar after the Witches set off of the underground river.

Be back in later - am prostrate with too much sun and wind whislt eating lunch looking out over Plymouth Sound - beautiful weather down here today
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 01, 2009 3:07 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:Or sometimes surly parent and smartypants adolescent :lol: sorry couldn't resist... :oops:

On the LotR point Tony (sorry couldn't resist again... :oops:) I'd completely forgotten about the little pale-eyed miscreant being boinked on the head with an oar after the Witches set off of the underground river.

Be back in later - am prostrate with too much sun and wind whislt eating lunch looking out over Plymouth Sound - beautiful weather down here today
Regarding LoTR - how about the door to the dwarf mine with the invisible writing and the dwarf bread - sounds a bit like anti-lambas bread to me. :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jun 01, 2009 7:51 pm

Good start so far - let's hear your general opinions of the book before we get into anything further. :)
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:22 pm

:lol: Well LotR dwarf bread is v. similar to Discworld d-bread - hard tack rather than something that's quite tasty to eat like Lembas (actually that's very bad for mortals eaten long-term - makes 'em discontent with their mortality :P )

The invisible writing thingy with Moria was actually done by the Elves although the Dwarves did the make the doors virtually seamless (and in the Hobbit too when they opened 'the back door' into the Lonely Mountain) but yes - another tie-in with the Prof's own efforts with 'mythopoeia' :twisted:

I actually prefer the Grimm Bros & Perrault spoofs - especially the Red Riding Hood so it's twisted into the wolf being the victim and Red being a little pest and the woodcutters thoughtless bad neighbours. Rather poignant now too with the Grandma in being so vague and fixated with leaving sour milk out everywhere for the fairies :(

But the whole turning of the concept of 'good' and 'bad' in those fairy stories is really well thought out as well as being very funny of course - the bit where they all have to make a run for it from the Sleeping Beauty Castle had me giggling like loon - it's been a while since I read it - at least 5 years or more so it was kind of 'new' all over again as I'd got foggy in a few places a fair bit! :wink:

Whoops! I was writing this whilst you were posting Tony - hope this is OK as another talking point :)
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:05 pm

Blast it all, I started in the wrong thread.

I am not sure how discussion groups work pertaining to books, so I am just going to jump in with both feet. (as opposed to the difficulties with Seven League Boots... :lol: )

I like this book.

1) It involves the three major witches, Granny, Nanny and Magrat, and puts them in places that are outside of the 'normal' settings. I enjoy the heck out of the dialects that Nanny comes up with in her dealings with the locals.

2) The Wand :lol: :lol: is too funny.

3) I have never been to Mardi Gras, but I think it would be a Hoot.

4) "Somewhere on the chilly ground, a very large bat was trying to get airborne again. It had already been stunned twice, once by a carelessly opened shutter and once by a ballistic garlic sausage, and wasn't feeling very well at all. One more setback, it was thinking, and it's back off to the castle. Besides it'd be sunrise soon. It's red eyes glinted as it looked up at Magrat's open window, it tensed-- A paw landed on it. The bat looked around."

"The Bat squirmed under his (Greebo's) claw. It seemed to Greebo's small cat brain that it was trying to change it's shape, and he wasn't having any of that from a mouse with wings on. Especially now, when he had someone to play with."

"Under the table, Greebo sat and washed himself. Occasionally he burped. Vampires have risen from the dead, the grave and the crypt, but have never managed it from the cat." (abridged) PMSL!!!!! :twisted: :lol: :twisted:
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby swreader » Tue Jun 02, 2009 6:23 am

Jan, if I understand what you are saying-you prefer the "fairy stories" to the Pratchett's comic allusions to LOTR, but that you find the fairy stories somewhat somewhat odd, and not really funny.

While there are funny bits in the stories, it seems to me that Pratchett is doing a good deal more. He is leading up to the Cinderella tale at Genua and to the conflict between the sisters--Esmerelda and Lillith. Oddly, though Granny can be (and is throughout most of the book) crabby, bad-tempered and short in her dealings with people--she really cares for people (and animals). What we are seeing in the trip through the woods with the odd fairy stories are precursors of what they find when they get to Genua.

In the final confrontation between Lily & Granny, we can see the difference between the sisters. Granny tells her sister that one shouldn't treat people like character, but that if you do--you have to know when the story ends. But Lily positively thrives on making other people miserable and demonstrating that they are totally within her power because she controls the story and forces people or animals into something they really are not.

The stories are funny, but they are also part of the serious exploration of the book--that stories, like history, will repeat itself--and that treating people like things or characters is morally wrong.
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Postby mspanners » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:24 am

Witches Abroad is another very entertaining books written in Terry's fun loving style.

Terry's mixture of borrowing from common knowledge about Witches , The Grim tales , The Lord of The rings , Mythology and Fairy Tales in general are all rolled together and melded into a coherent story of adventure and comic mishaps.

One of my favorite parts is when the Trio of Witches are given a Boat and some supplies (Magically supplied Pumpkins and inedible Dwarf Bread) by the Dwarfs and set on their way on a lake.
A Golum like creature approaches them in their Boat and get's a paddle across its Head after Granny takes a dislike to Him.......... even though He declared it is His Birthday..... 8)
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:36 pm

I really enjoy WA every time I read it, but then I love the Granny/Nanny partnership. But I am a bit confused about Ella - where did she live before the Baron died? With Mrs Gogol? So was she a "secret", & was Lily the only one who knew? And how could Mrs Gogol bear not to take her back, or at least tell her who she was at the end?

It's making me scratch my head :?
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:34 pm

Dotsie wrote:I really enjoy WA every time I read it, but then I love the Granny/Nanny partnership. But I am a bit confused about Ella - where did she live before the Baron died? With Mrs Gogol? So was she a "secret", & was Lily the only one who knew? And how could Mrs Gogol bear not to take her back, or at least tell her who she was at the end?

It's making me scratch my head :?
I think we can only speculate the situation regarding Ella. :? I imagine that Mrs Gogol may have worked in the Baron's palace at some stage and that's when the two of them had Ella. Lilith killed the Baron and banished Mrs Gogol to the swamp. Knowing that Ella was the rightful heir made it important for Lilith to keep control of her, so that's why she was put under guard by the snake sisters.

Like I say - speculation, but it would fit with what we know. :)
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:11 pm

Tonyblack wrote:I think we can only speculate the situation regarding Ella. :? I imagine that Mrs Gogol may have worked in the Baron's palace at some stage and that's when the two of them had Ella. Lilith killed the Baron and banished Mrs Gogol to the swamp. Knowing that Ella was the rightful heir made it important for Lilith to keep control of her, so that's why she was put under guard by the snake sisters.

Like I say - speculation, but it would fit with what we know. :)


Yep, the Baron and Mrs Gogol spoke of it toward the end of the book, saying that the "plan" was for Ella to Rule the city, and strongly hinted that she was "their" child.

Lilith had her in the white house, being raised as a "housekeeper" type in order to make her fit into the story. She told Magrat that she did NOT want to marry the Duc at all, but that Lilith seemed to think that being forced to do Laundry every day and clean the house endlessly would make her more amenable to the idea of marrying a prince. ... even one made from a frog :lol:
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Dotsie » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:22 pm

Lilith's behaviour I understand, but not Mrs Gogol's. Why would any mother just wait around for 12 years to beat Lilith? Why not much sooner? I mean, Ella's her daughter, & I'm given to understand that the bond is pretty strong!
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:23 pm

Mercedes Lackey has her 500 Kingdoms series in which she explores the fairy godmother aspects and "The Tradition" forcing the unwary into "Stories".

The basic idea in her series is that the wise ruler can gently guide their kingdoms into prosperity, not too much tho, and keep "The Tradition" from putting the unwelcome aspects like Rusalkas (trapped spirits of young women who were used and dumped, who must trap and kill young men for revenge), and evil witches capturing young girls in towers.

I enjoy her stories very much and the humor she uses to get moral convictions of being good to others and treating one another as human beings instead of objects across.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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