Equal Rites is the third book set on the Discworld and the first not to focus on Rincewind – although it does feature wizards. As the eighth son of an eighth son, Eskarina Smith was destined to be a powerful wizard. The only problem is, she’s a girl – a fact that dying wizard Drum Billet doesn’t realise when he passes her his staff.
This is the book that introduces Granny Weatherwax to the multiverse and she’s a Granny that is largely recognisable in later books, although some of her dialogue is a little unfamiliar to those who’ve experienced the Granny of the final books. Granny takes Esk under her wing – initially determined to bring her up as a witch but, ultimately, forced to conclude that the only safe place for Esk and her staff is Unseen University. Reluctantly, she heads to Ankh Morpork to deliver Esk who, along the way, meets a Brian Cox-alike wizard called Simon who, it turns out, is attracting the attention of the wrong sort of interdimensional beings.
Pratchett really hits his stride with Equal Rites. As an early book, it deals with a global threat to the Discworld (whereas later books tended to focus on putting individual characters in tricky situations) and the pace is pretty even with the ending speeding up nicely. There are more jokes per page than in previous books and a lot of fun is had at the expense of misogynists.
Cutangle: While I’m still confused and uncertain, it’s on a much higher plane, d’you see, and at least I know I’m bewildered about the really fundamental and important facts of the universe.
Treatle: I hadn’t looked at it like that, but you’re absolutely right. He’s really pushed back the boundaries of ignorance.
They both savoured the strange warm glow of being much more ignorant than ordinary people, who were only ignorant of ordinary things.
He had the kind of real deep tan that rich people spent ages trying to achieve with expensive holidays and bits of tinfoil, when really all you need to do to obtain one is work your arse off in the open air every day.
They may have been ugly. They may have been evil. But when it came to poetry in motion, the Things had all the grace and coordination of a deck-chair.