Maskerade (Discworld Series #18)

Maskerade (Discworld Series #18)

4.4 39
by Terry Pratchett

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The Ghost in the bone-white mask who haunts theAnkh-Morpork Opera House was always considered a benign presence — some would even say lucky — until he started killing people. The sudden rash of bizarre backstage deaths now threatens to mar the operatic debut of country girl Perdita X. (nee Agnes) Nitt, she of the ample body and ampler voice.


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The Ghost in the bone-white mask who haunts theAnkh-Morpork Opera House was always considered a benign presence — some would even say lucky — until he started killing people. The sudden rash of bizarre backstage deaths now threatens to mar the operatic debut of country girl Perdita X. (nee Agnes) Nitt, she of the ample body and ampler voice.

Perdita's expected to hide in the chorus and sing arias out loud while a more petitely presentable soprano mouths the notes. But at least it's an escape from scheming Nanny Ogg and old Granny Weatherwax back home, who want her to join their witchy ranks.

Once Granny sets her mind on something, however, it's difficult — and often hazardous — to dissuade her. And no opera-prowling phantom fiend is going to keep a pair of determined hags down on the farm after they've seen Ankh-Morpork.

Editorial Reviews

Piers Anthony
Pratchett is fast, funny, and going places. Try him!
Oxford Times
Simply the best humorous writer of the twentieth century.
New York Review of Science Fiction
The funniest parodist working in the field today, period.
Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
Consistently, inventively mad . . . wild and wonderful!
White Dwarf
The hottest writer in fantasy today.
VOYA - Meg Wilson
Clever puns, plot twists, and witty sarcasm make reading Maskerade an enjoyable jaunt into the fantasy world. Pratchett has created a likeable cast of characters and a believable setting, which help move the story along at a rapid pace. His style is funny and intelligent, and will appeal to many adult and young adult fantasy readers. In "yet another novel of Discworld" (from the cover), young Agnes Nitt has decided to make her mark in the world of Opera in the big city. Although she is enormously overweight, she has been blessed, or cursed, with a wonderful personality, great hair, and an astounding singing voice. Her good sense also makes her a definite anomaly in the looney world of the Ankh Morpork Opera house, where the resident Ghost demands full observance of all superstitions, makes demands regarding the casting of Operas, and occasionally leaves behind the corpses of those who dare cross him. To further complicate her life, Agnes believes, two witches from her home town turn up and do their best to end her career in the opera by recruiting Agnes into their coven. In the end, the good witches prevail and the mystery of the Opera House Ghost is solved. Nothing about Maskerade makes it an intrinsically YA novel, though many YAs would enjoy it thoroughly. It should be included in any collection where fantasy readers appreciate a well-written story and a good laugh. VOYA Codes: 4Q 3P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Will appeal with pushing, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
From the Publisher
 • "Pratchett is as funny as Wodehouse and as witty as Waugh." —Independent

 • "The great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical, who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a multifarious genius for strong parody... who deals with death with startling originality. Who writes amazing sentences." —New York Times

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Discworld Series, #18
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.76(w) x 10.86(h) x 1.04(d)
680L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The wind howled.The storm crackled on the mountains.Lightning prodded the crags like an old man trying to get an elusive blackberry pip out of his false teeth.

Among the hissing furze bushes a fire blazed, the flames driven this way and that by the gusts.

An eldritch voice shrieked: "When shall again?"

Thunder rolled.

A rather more ordinary voice said: "What'd you go and shout that for? You made me drop my toast in the fire."

Nanny Ogg sat down again.

"Sorry, Esme.I was just doing it know...old time's sake...Doesn't roll off the tongue, though."

"I'd just got it nice and brown, too."


"Anyway, you didn't have to shout."


"I mean, I ain't deaf.You could've just asked me in a normal voice.And I'd have said, 'Next Wednesday.'"

"Sorry, Esme."

"Just you cut me another slice."

Nanny Ogg nodded, and turned her head."Magrat, cut Granny ano...oh.Mind wandering there for a minute.I'll do it myself, shall I?"

"Hah!" said Granny Weatherwax, staring into the fire.

There was no sound for a while but the roar of the wind and the sound of Nanny Ogg cutting bread, which she did with about as much efficiency as a man trying to chainsaw a mattress.

"I thought it'd cheer you up, coming up here," she said after a while.

"Really." It wasn't a question.

"Take you out of yourself, sort of thing..." Nanny went on, watching her friend carefully.

"Mm?" said Granny, still staring moodily at the fire.

Oh dear, thought Nanny.I shouldn't've said that.

The point was...well, the pointwas that Nanny Ogg was worried.Very worried.She wasn't at all sure that her friend wasn't well going well, sort a manner of

She knew it happened, with the really powerful ones.And Granny Weatherwax was pretty damn powerful.She was probably an even more accomplished witch now than the infamous Black Aliss, and everyone knew what had happened to her at the finish.Pushed into her own stove by a couple of kids, and everyone said it was a damn good thing, even if it took a whole week to clean the oven.

But Aliss, up until that terrible day, had terrorized the Ramtops.She'd become so good at magic that there wasn't room in her head for anything else.

They said weapons couldn't pierce her.Swords bounced off her skin.They said you could hear her mad laughter a mile off, and of course, while mad laughter was always part of a witch's stock-in-trade in necessary circumstances, this was insane mad laughter, the worst kind.And she turned people into gingerbread and had a house made of frogs.It had been very nasty, toward the end.It always was, when a witch went bad.

Sometimes, of course, they didn't go bad.They just went...somewhere.

Granny's intellect needed something to do.She did not take kindly to boredom.She'd take to her bed instead and send her mind out Borrowing, inside the head of some forest creature, listening with its ears, seeing with its eyes.That was all very well for general purposes, but she was too good at it.She could stay away longer than anyone Nanny Ogg had ever heard of.

One day, almost certainly, she wouldn't bother to come back...and this was the worst time of the year, with the geese honking and rushing across the sky every night, and the autumn air crisp and inviting.There was something terribly tempting about that.

Nanny Ogg reckoned she knew what the cause of the problem was.

She coughed.

"Saw Magrat the other day," she ventured, looking sidelong at Granny.

There was no reaction.

"She's looking well.Queening suits her."


Nanny groaned inwardly.If Granny couldn't even be bothered to make a nasty remark, then she was really missing Magrat.

Nanny Ogg had never believed it at the start, but Magrat Garlick, wet as a sponge though she was half the time, had been dead right about one thing.

Three was a natural number for witches.

And they'd lost one.Well, not lost, exactly.Magrat was queen now, and queens were hard to mislay.But...that meant that there were only two of them instead of three.

When you had three, you had one to run around getting people to make up when there'd been a row.Magrat had been good for that.Without Magrat, Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax got on one another's nerves.With her, all three had been able to get on the nerves of absolutely everyone else in the whole world, which had been a lot more fun.

And there was no having Magrat least, to be precise about it, there was no having Magrat back yet.

Because, while three was a good number for had to be the right sort of three.The right sort of...types.

Nanny Ogg found herself embarrassed even to think about this, and this was unusual because embarrassment normally came as naturally to Nanny as altruism comes to a cat.

As a witch, she naturally didn't believe in any occult nonsense of any sort.But there were one or two truths down below the bedrock of the soul which had to be faced, and right in among them was this business of, well, of the maiden, the mother and the...other one.

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