I’m not quite sure how to write a review – or even a sort of review – for a book that’s had ::checks notes:: upwords of fifty gajillion reviews written about it like Lords and Ladies has. I mean, I know a philosopher who writes serious philosophy books about Discworld and short of that sort of literary analysis style writing or some Dear Diary about it I’m not quite sure what I could possibly add. And I know that because I wrote at least 300 words that I accidentally deleted and I can’t undo in a WP visual editor window but fuck cancer and YAYAYAY Pajibans so I’m contributing one.
Lords and Ladies unlike most Discworld books comes on the heels almost immediately of the previous book in its series… that is, Lords and Ladies is book 4 of the Witches novels though it’s 14 of the greater Discworld series and it takes place in the immediate aftermath of book 3, Witches Abroad. It’s hard to choose a favorite, you know. When you’re in it for Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat it’s hard to not be in it for any of their books.
This one has romance… and also really practical romance adjacent content that speaks to me deeply. There’s Magrat returning to Lancre to a wedding… her wedding. And she hadn’t even been proposed to so that’s a bit of news. The person she’s marrying is king, which is another bit of news. And the last time she saw him he was, you know, not a king. In fact, he was a fool. That is, he was a full on court jester. The kind that wears a motely uniform. The one with bells on his head, you know. That guy, Verence, is king now. Oh, and Magrat is marrying him. It’s not that she doesn’t want to (she totally does). It’s just that she’s not quite the queening type. What’s a queen do anyway? And why are Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg so intent on offloading her onto the throne? Isn’t she good enough at witching? She’s a good witch! A great witch even!
There’s also 60 some odd years of pining being requited-ish? Or not requited? Who can tell nowadays? Definitely the most romantic of the Discworld books I’ve read anyway. In this universe or the other ones. That is, the parallel universes in which I exist reading/ not reading Discworld books and the parallel universes in which a love story can branch off into a million different realities based on a choice made at any given point along the timeline. (This factors into the plot. I promise. I’m not just pulling that out.)
There are bees. There are the titular “lords and ladies” (and we’re just not going to talk about them right now, OK?). There’s a lothario dwarf. There’s a troll. There are bandits. There’s a librarian – you know the one. There are wizards young and old. There’s male pattern baldness. There’s a unicorn which, I’ll have you know, is just a horse with a horn on his head if you really think about it. There’s some goth teens (and nary a mention of The Cure). There’s a Discworld cameo I won’t spoil because why would I? There’s a play within the book which is very on brand for the Witches. And some dancing. And really bad singing.
And, most importantly, there’s A MULTIVERSE because even Terry fell to the multiverse trend of 2022. (Uhhhh no… that’s not accurate. It might be more accurate to say that the trend of 2022 fell to Terry Pratchett’s multiverses because kindness always wins.)
There’s also the supreme wit and humor that only Terry Pratchett could bring to the super fantastical but also super mundane. You never cross the same river twice. No matter how many times you come to the same bridge. You just don’t. And that hits close to home for me… just like all the Discworld books manage to do.
There’s really just no way to write a review for a book like Lords and Ladies. There’s only encouraging people who think “Hmm. Maybe I want to get into this thing called Discworld. Where do I start?” to go with it. To pick a place to start – and you don’t need to start at the beginning – and say “Well, eventually, you’ll get there and there’s no better place to be.”