First off, I enjoyed this one much more than Equal Rites. While this novel still doesn’t necessarily make me want to go out and read everything Pratchett has ever written, I have added him to my list of fall back authors for when I need a book and have no ideas on what to get. I think the main thing is that sometimes he just drags out jokes/premises a bit longer than they really need to go. Maybe that’s just a sign that I read too many fast paced novels or am developing ADHD and can’t enjoy a leisurely journey anymore.
Anyway, in essence this novel is a humorous Macbeth retelling primarily told from the perspective of the witches though it is also much more than that. It includes many references to other Shakespeare plays, all slightly reimagined in the Disc World and bearing different names, and I found the way Pratchett alluded to the various plays delightful. I know it seems contradictory that I would praise the Shakespeare references here when I complained about them in my Hammered review but it’s all about execution. There is a huge difference between characters trying to show off their intellectual superiority through a quote off and a light hearted description of a theater troupe, its dwarf play wright, and an actor who can stop a bar fight by quoting something that sounds suspiciously like our reality’s Henry V speech. I especially appreciated when the playwright kept wanting to add a ghost to his version of Macbeth (he suffers from an abundance of ideas) and someone said something along the lines of, “the ghost is good, but not for this play” – this may be because I had tickets for Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe. Of course, there is a ghost (a few actually) even he doesn’t fit into the play very well.
Granny makes a repeat appearance but I absolutely could have followed everyone else’s recommendations and read this first instead of following the chart that had Equal Rites first. There is no reference to Granny’s out of town adventures, and honestly, since she seemed pretty happy in the city at the end of Equal Rites, I wouldn’t be surprised if this technically took place before then, and the next novel had Granny back in the city. I also loved Death’s appearance in this one! Thinking back, I keep remembering different amusing small details, and the deeper relatively interesting remarks and insights on human nature. However, while reading it there were a few spots where the novel lagged a bit for me, and could have maybe been tightened up – basically cutting maybe 20 pages would have made the difference. However, overall, I can’t even put my finger on what or where the lag was while I can remember most of the positives so I would say that makes the novel a success.