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Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Witches Abroad (original 1991; edition 2002)

by Terry Pratchett

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6,94566519 (4.06)164
Title:Witches Abroad
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:HarperTorch (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library

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Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett (1991)

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English (59)  German (2)  Polish (1)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  All languages (66)
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"Witches Aboard" follows the Lancre coven across the Disc to the Big Easy, well Terry Pratchett's version of the Bayou, as they attempt to save the day by not allowing the servant girl to marry the Prince. The happily-ever-after and fairy godmother tropes do not survive either Pratchett or Granny Weatherwax.

I will be honest, the previous Witches' book (Wyrd Sisters) wasn't my favorite Disc book and so I had reservations when beginning. After what I felt was a stumbling start with numerous "mirror magic" asides that didn't help explain anything, the main story of the Lancre coven's cross-continental trip to the city of Genua took over and really grabbed ahold of me. The interactions of Granny, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat amongst themselves and with "foreigners" is hilarious especially when they come into contact with the local witch in Genua, Mrs. Gogol (the voodoo priestess). Once in Genua, the coven members realize that someone is making fairytales become real life by any means necessary resulting in a whitewash, forced-into-happiness city instead of the generally jovial one that most residents once remember. The revelation that a relative of Granny's and the duality of fairy godmothers just adds more spicy to this story. However, the best thing throughout is the tomcat Greebo especially when he gets into human form.

After the inconsistent start with the weird "mirror magic" explanations that really didn't help anything, the only other complaint was again Magrat's character because not only did she remain flat like in Wyrd Sisters but she was almost reduced to "minor" status by the end of the book. Given that she is one of the titular characters, it's a bit weird seeing being less relevant than a cat.

Besides those two gripes, "Witches Abroad" is a improvement in my view over "Wyrd Sisters" in Pratchett's Discworld series. The vast majority of the Discworld books I've read, I've enjoyed so to anyone looking to get into Discworld please don't considering my not-so-liking of the Witches books be a stain on the other Disc books. ( )
  mattries37315 | Apr 30, 2015 |
I have a love/hate r'ship with the Discworld books. I
I enjoy every encounter I have with Rincewind, the Luggage, and the Librarian.
Carrot is mildly interesting
Bits of concepts throughout the series are clever.
Pretty much the rest of the characters, and books, annoy and/or frustrate me. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Witches Abroad is the twelfth book in the Discworld series, and the second one following the witches from Wyrd Sisters, which you’d probably want to read first to get introduced to the characters.

Witches Abroad revolves around fairy tales. Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat journey to Genua (Discworld New Orleans) to stop a kitchen maid from marrying the prince.

I love what this book does with fairy tales, how it mashes them up, many tales at once, all seen from the perspective of already established characters. The best moment has to be when a farmhouse falls on Nanny Ogg.

But possibly because of the focus on fairy tales, Witches Abroad has real problems with its pacing. The first half of the book is the three witches traveling to Genua and undergoing various encounters along the way. This is hilarious but slow moving. The plot doesn’t get compact and moving until into the second half when they actually reach Genua.

I love the witches trio. They bicker and fight and have an overall wonderful dynamic. Nanny Ogg is funny and convivial, Magrat is young and lacks confidence in herself, and Granny Weatherwax is confident to the point of arrogance and always knows who she is. Granny’s the hero of the book, undoubtedly, and here she has a worthy opponent.

“What was supposed to be so special about a full moon? It was only a big circle of light. And the dark of the moon was only darkness. But halfway between the two, when the moon was between the worlds of light and dark, when even the moon lived on the edge…maybe then a witch could believe in the moon.”

Something very unusual about Witches Abroad is just how much it is focused around female characters. The trio of witches are the center of the story, their opponent is a fairy godmother who bends stories to her will, and the witch’s main support consists of a voodoo witch who lives in the swamp outside Genua. I read an assertion somewhere that it fails the reverse Bechdel test – having two named male characters who talk to each other about something other than a woman. This isn’t actually true. Witches Abroad passes due to one conversation between a named male character and Death, who uses male pronouns. But the fact that it comes so close to failing shows just how remarkable it is, especially for a fantasy book written by a male author.

While Witches Abroad might not be as deep as some of Pratchett’s other works, it still has its moments. In a large part this is because of the contrast between fairy godmothers and witches – fairy godmothers give you what you want, and witches give you what you need. The overarching idea is that you can’t make people’s lives better by forcing them to act as you want.

“You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage.”

I’d recommend Witches Abroad for people who liked Wyrd Sisters, who love fairy tales, or who want a book focused around excellent female characters.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Apr 8, 2015 |
Got me wanting to read more of the DiscWorld Series.... great laughs and great fun... and yes escapism at its best. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
My favorite Discworld books are the ones that feature Sam Vimes, DEATH, the librarian, and Havelock Vetinari - the Patrician. Only one of the above characters appears at all in this book, and not very much at that. Even so, this was a very inventive mash-up of some well known fantasy and fairy-tale stories and I found the character of Nanny Ogg delightful. Will have to give another "Witches" book a try. ( )
  5hrdrive | Dec 3, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Perhaps because the novel's picaresque structure seems commodious rather than contrived, one reads with less of an obtrusive sense of stage machinery being wheeled into place. Still, Pratchett's taste for complicated climactic scenes remains, so that his novels, rather than coming to a point as much comedy does, tend to blow apart like a firecracker.

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedicated to all those people - and why not? - who, after the publication of Wyrd Sisters, deluged the author with their version of the words of 'The Hedgehog Song'.
Deary deary me...
First words
This is Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A'Tuin, the sky turtle.
Nanny Ogg quite liked cooking, provided there were other people around to do things like chop up the vegetables and wash the dishes afterwards.
Genua had once controlled the river mouth and taxed its traffic in a way that couldn't be called piracy because it was done by the city government.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
It seemed an easy job…After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince?

But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, travelling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple...

Servant girls have to marry the prince. That's what life is all about. You can't fight a Happy Ending.

At least - up until now…
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061020613, Mass Market Paperback)

Be careful what you wish for...

Once upon a time there was a fairy godmother named Desiderata who had a good heart, a wise head, and poor planning skills—which unforunately left the Princess Emberella in the care of her other (not quite so good and wise) godmother when DEATH came for Desiderata. So now it's up to Magrat Garlick, Granny Weatherwax, and Nanny Ogg to hop on broomsticks and make for far-distant Genua to ensure the servant girl doesn't marry the Prince.

But the road to Genua is bumpy, and along the way the trio of witches encounters the occasional vampire, werewolf, and falling house (well this is a fairy tale, after all). The trouble really begins once these reluctant foster-godmothers arrive in Genua and must outwit their power-hungry counterpart who'll stop at nothing to achieve a proper "happy ending"—even if it means destroying a kingdom.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:45 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Three witches must prevent a servant girl from marrying a prince; but they're up against the malignant power of the Godmother herself, who has struck a deal with Destiny that will ensure a happy ending.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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