"It seemed an easy job... After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince?"
The Discworld series is to fantasy, what The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy is to Sci-Fi. It exists to pick apart the genre, to lovingly point out the ridiculous moments and laughable tropes we’ve encountered countless times and give them to us in a fresh and funny context. So, with that in mind, what could be better than a Discworld book that’s precisely about picking apart story tropes?
Witches Abroad sees the return of the witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg & Magrat. When Magrat gets promoted to the position of Fairy Godmother, the group travel across the disc to the land of Genua to stop a poor peasant girl going to the Prince’s ball…sound familiar?
Genua is a land ripe with parody, a country that lives and breathes stories, this sets up limitless possibilities for parodies of well known stories, we see the Witches meet up with Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince and Nanny Ogg (Complete with lovely new red shoes) even has a house dropped on her head.
The jokes and parodies are relentless and that’s exactly how I like my Discworld novels, if one reference goes over your head there’s no need to worry as another fifty are just around the corner and Pratchett still manages to tell a great story on top of all the jokes.
I’ve often had an issue with the drama element of the Discworld novels, as much as I love the jokes and send ups of pop culture, the epic final battle of each novel often feels a little tacked on, like the author has included it purely because a plot needs a conclusion and it may as well be a fight with this monster/demon/dragon/thingamabob.
In contrast, the build up and conclusion of this novel felt very natural and was some of the most genuine drama I’ve read in a Discworld book. I loved the reveal of the villains identity and the confrontation between her and Granny Weatherwax. It managed to provide the correct balance of drama and humour and was the most satisfying conclusion I’ve read in the series so far.
Witches Abroad is a brilliant novel, one of, if not the funniest entries in the Discworld series up to this point and easily the most dramatic. If you’re already a fan and haven’t picked this one up go and do so now, or if you’re not a fan but are looking for an entry to the series, look no further, Witches Abroad has you covered.
Also...while we're on the subject, a little boast on my part....
I picked up my copy of Witches Abroad from a local charity shop, when I took it home, I opened it to find, within it's pages....
....Terry Pratchett's signature and a stamped image of the Death of Rats. Pretty cool huh?