Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review:: Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett

Title: Equal Rites
Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld, #3
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆


I wasn't fully impressed by this book. There were parts of it I rather enjoyed, but I didn't feel like I could relate to the protagonist, Esk, and it felt like plenty of others were just obliviously sticking their heads in holes. It's a quick read, and that's great, but if something is going to seriously try and have an agenda of sorts, maybe it shouldn't be so quick.
But that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I liked it, as much as I liked the first two Rincewind novels, which everyone told me to avoid. It was quick, nice, and funny in parts. This one had more of a concrete plot, which was appreciated, although not required.

I also really liked the pointing out of the bit of ridiculousness that is Fantasy Naming. Women are witches, men are wizards. It creates this gender-based magic hierarchy that's hard to buck without inventing completely different words or co-opting the ones that already exist in ways that are uncomfortable for the reader.

But I felt like it could have been better handled. The only reason the gender conflict arises in Equal Rites is not because someone's seeking equal rights, but because wizard magic has been foisted upon a young girl at her father's death. Maybe I'm thinking about it too hard, but if the book is going to try and make a Statement, I feel like it should try and make the right one.

It's not really that a girl wants to become a wizard but is being held back, but that a girl is a wizard and is being ignored. She has no real choice in the situation (and isn't a great character to boot) and in reality, nothing is changed. Women still can't become wizards because that's not the kind of magic they contain. She's just an exception.

Again, though, as much as I'm complaining, I enjoyed the book. I just felt like if sexism was going to be taken on, there are better ways that don't cheapen the blow. And maybe, just maybe, this wasn't the right vessel for it.

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