This thread is for discussing Wyrd Sisters 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.
Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!
Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1988
When Duke Felmet and his wife decide to snatch the Kingdom of Lancre through murder most foul, they neglect the fact that the witches of the country won’t be happy about it.
And when the Kingdom itself is unhappy with the deed, the witches take drastic action to give the country the King it deserves.
I want to thank swreader for volunteering to write the introduction to this month’s discussion.
swreader wrote:Wyrd Sisters introduction by swreader
This novel introduces us to one of the most important types of people inhabiting Discworld—The Witches. Although in some senses we have met Granny before, this is the first novel in which we meet the three most dominant witches. Witches, as they will tell you, do not believe in hierarchy, do not have leaders or head witches, and Granny Weatherwax (as she appears in this novel) is the most highly regarded of the leaders whom witches don’t have. But also vitally important (in this and the other witch novels) are the two other members of the original coven, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick.
Though the opening line of this book is exactly that of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and though Pratchett makes extensive allusive reference to Shakespeare and that particular play, this novel is not a parody of the play. Rather Pratchett uses witch magic as well as the magic of words, whether written by some playwright or used by the witches, to begin the exploration of several themes which he will develop more fully in the later witch novels. The Shakespeare allusions which underlie the novel give it a richness not only by the use of comic contrast but more importantly serious consideration of the responsibilities of kings or rulers of a country and that of those citizens who have special talents.
One of the themes Pratchett explores here is the responsibility the witches have to the special quality of their land. They are not rulers, nor do they seek to be—but their talents force them into unusual actions, such as the use of witch magic to move the country fifteen years into the future, making Lancre perhaps the only country to have “time-traveled”. Pratchett sets up the tension between the three witches in this book that runs through all the witch books. Each of the three has different strengths and weaknesses which contributes to both the tension and bonding of the three. Pratchett’s witches are not the evil spirits conjured by Shakespeare, but specially talented human beings who have chosen or been chosen by a calling that requires an unusual way of life.
Pratchett sprinkles this book with comic references, sometimes almost with parody. One only has to pronounce the name of Hwel, the dwarf playwright of the Vitoller Company of Actors, and perhaps think of Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s men, to notice the name of the theatre they eventually construct in the capital city to realize that Pratchett has enriched the play by the comic allusion to Shakespeare and his play. But, as is true of Pratchett’s best work, while knowing Macbeth may add to the laughter, knowledge of the play is not, in the final analysis, necessary to enjoy and appreciate the first appearance of the famous trio—Granny, Nanny & Magrat.
Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Thud!)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served.