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(P) ISIS Publishing Ltd, 1995; Copyright © Terry Pratchett, 1987; Cover Illustration © Josh Kirby
The Isis Audio editions of Pratchett's books with Nigel Planer as the reader are superb. For some tragic reason, however, they had a woman read this book and she is ghastly. She reads in a sicky-sweet style and fails to pronounce the character's names correctly. If I ever win the lottery I will personally pay Mr. Planer to record this book!
This is a classic Discworld tale, a fine example of Pratchett's excellent work, and a wonderful introduction to Granny Weatherwax.
Celia Imrie does a wonderful job in her narration, although her efforts and skills are hampered by the technical quality of the recording. Perhaps I needed to download the "enhanced" level of quality to avoid this, but the narration made abrupt transitions from loud with an audible background hiss to distant and hollow, to strangely booming and echoing, as if the narrator had suddenly entered a tunnel.
I loved reading all of the Discworld volumes, especially the witch books, and I look forward to listening to the others in the series. I have strong feelings about the quality of this recording, but on the whole I consider it a worthwhile purchase.
Both the author and the reader have cause to be proud. The producers of this recording should be ashamed of themselves, they have done these two highly skilled entertainers a great disservice by making apparently no effort to control recording quality. Pratchett's writing is so amusing and engaging and Imrie's vocal talents are so diverse that it's hard to imagine being distracted by mere technical hiccups... and yet it happened repeatedly. if Celia Imrie made this recording in her garage (and occasionally in a moving car, it would seem) with no other funding or technical assistance, then I could see the quality as forgivable. If any kind of production team existed, they failed to do their jobs. I hope to discover that this is not endemic to the Discworld Audible series.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
When a wizard on the Discworld knows he’s about to die, he passes on his staff and magical powers to the eighth son of an eighth son who is being born at that time. So, that’s what the wizard Drum Billet does just before his death — he passes on his powers to the baby who’s just been born to the Smith family. But nobody notices in time that Eskarina Smith is not a boy… Several years later Esk realizes she’s got some uncontrollable powers so she, along with her friend Granny Weatherwax, the local witch, sets out to find her place in a world where women do not have equal rights.
Equal Rites is the third book in Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD series and the first in which Rincewind the cowardly wizard is not the protagonist. Though the focus here is on Eskarina, the first female wizard on the Discworld, the real star is Granny Weatherwax, the indomitable witch who features more prominently in the DISCWORLD series. Granny is full of wisdom and teaches Esk that not all power comes from magic. Much of it comes from the way a person looks, what she wears, the things she knows about the world, as well as various “magic” tricks such as placebos and confirmation bias.
Granny’s lessons about power are directly related to the other obvious theme in Equal Rites — gender equality. Terry Pratchett, who’s famous for identifying and making fun of clichés in fantasy literature, said in a 1985 talk published at Ansible that “the fantasy world…. is overdue for a visit from the Equal Opportunities people.” So he set out to show us, in his funny way, that women can do most things that men can do and that choosing not to use a power that you have is a kind of power in itself.
Terry Pratchett does a great job with his female characters and that’s probably the main reason I liked Equal Rites better than the previous DISCWORLD novels — this is a sweet coming of age story which relies more on character development and interactions than parody and comedy. Also, it seems to me that Pratchett’s humor has matured since the beginning of the series (or maybe he’s just getting more comfortable in the Disworld) — the jokes are starting to feel more organic.
I listened to Celia Imrie narrate the audiobook version of Equal Rites. She was wonderful. If you purchase the Kindle version of Equal Rites for $5.69, with the Whispersync deal you can get the audio version for $2.99.
Some reviews have said the narrator isn't very good. I disagree. I am a big Discworld fan and definitely love Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs narrating them, but I also really appreciated a female voice for this story, which focuses largely on female characters. It's different, but in a good way. Made me want to grab the other Celia Imrie narrated books.
I'm a geek with people skills. Strange, I know, but true!
I've discovered my tendency to get attached to specific readers, so I was only partly surprised when my initial reaction to Celia Imrie's reading of Equal Rites was irritation. I had become accustomed to Nigel Planer's voice when immersing myself in the Discworld, but as the aural pages turned I realized the propriety of having a woman read this volume. The protagonists are women, after all, and somehow I don't think that Nigel would have personified Granny Weatherwax as well as he manages Rincewind, et al.
As always, Terry Pratchett has me laughing out loud so often that people around me look at me strangely (or is it only that they think I'm strange enough to warrant more attention than a deranged ant..? Whatever...). And it seems that after a bit, Celia warmed up to the material and got a better grasp of the characters.
By the time I was done with the book I felt the all-too-familiar sadness of moving on and leaving behind a narrator who had become a pleasant part of my routine.
The Colour of Magic, from a female perspective, Witches instead of Wizards, kind of....
I very much liked her performance, and immediately got the next book in this part of the series, so that I could enjoy more of her quality narration, which I now have come to expect from any work of Terry Pratchett's. I wish she narrates more that just these 2 novels of Discworld, (Equal Rites, and then Wyrd Sisters). Anyways, I will definitely keep an eye out for any books that she chooses to narrate. The voice she used for the youthful protaganist of this book is downright adorable, as is the voice she chose for the stuttering boy-genius wizard she befriends.
Many moments in this book brought me to audible laughter, causing some curious looks from neighbors and pedestrians while I gardened!! The letter that granny weatherwax wrote to the unseen university cracked me up, as did her discussion of headology.
Never enough time to read all the stories and series I enjoy.
I prefer Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs. Imrie is a bit whispery for my taste. I thought it was appropriate to have a female read the story, but it definitely fell flat. Her Librarian was extremely awkward. The story itself is alright. I enjoy Granny Weatherwax but the witches are probably my least favorite of the discworld characters. That being said, shes definitely still an entertaining and hilarious character. Worth a read, not a listen.
It took me learning more about Granny Weatherwax before I was able to enjoy this story. So I would suggest listening to Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad first to get to know the Granny first.
Given more background to have more sympathy for characters
I'm just an audio learner and any reading aloud sticks with me more then on the page.
continue with discworld series
I've listened to hundreds of books and Celia Imrie stands out as a gifted narrator. Her voice conveys subtle changes in line with what the character is experiencing in a way that I had never experienced with other narrators. Her narration of Granny Weatherwax was a complete delight. I would seek out books narrated by her again.
Though this book is different from the main series in many ways, in its humor, keen observation of the foibles of humans (witches and warlocks), and in its philosophical musings, it fits right in. Perhaps it is because I'm a woman, but I found this story to be entirely engaging. I was cheering for the female wizard and Granny all the way. It was wonderful to hear a witch's view of the world of warlocks.
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