Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Terry Pratchett: Wyrd Sisters

In Wyrd Sisters the three prominent witches of the Ramptop Mountains get together to try to save the kingdom. It’s a nice little kingdom that everyone is fairly happy with, until the Duke decides to change the line of succession and murder the king. It’s all very Macbeth with the new king (duke) trying to wash the blood off of his hands with a file, and a truly evil wife who is really running the show.

One of the truly amusing plot points in this book is the eldest witch Granny Weatherwax’s inability to understand the theatre. Unable to fathom the purpose behind the play she tries to call their bluff and point out who the killer in the play was, (now playing a soldier) and how the dead man was still breathing so he wasn’t really dead yet anyway. Only Granny could so completely miss the point of something like theatre, and yet improve the performance by that misunderstanding.

The best part of the book however, was the (you guessed it) quantum physics. In a marvelous display of headology Granny Weatherwax decides to shift time for the kingdom of Lancre by means of a spell, which was designed to convince everything in the kingdom that 15 years had passed overnight. But it had to be done in one night. Amusingly enough it was Nanny Ogg who had the master stroke in that bit as she had convinced her many children to grab all of the roosters in the kingdom and prevent them from crowing so that Granny would have enough time to finish her spell. The best part was they didn’t actually cause time to move forward quickly, they actually caused the kingdom to step around 15 years worth of time which is cleaner and far easier to achieve. By believing that the night was not yet over, Granny was able to shift the kingdom around 15 years worth of time, without anyone really noticing.

In the end the day was saved because the young prince in hiding decided to become an actor and the court Fool (the young prince’s older brother, since neither of them was actually a prince anyway since the queen was sleeping with someone else when the King was away) was elected King of Lancre and they lived happily ever after.

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