Equal Rites (Discworld Series #3)

Equal Rites (Discworld Series #3)

by Terry Pratchett

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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In Equal Rites, New York Times bestselling author Terry Pratchett brings readers back to Discworld, a fantasy universe where anything can happen—and usually does.

A dying wizard tries to pass his staff on to the eighth son of an eighth son. When it is revealed that the he is a girl named Esk, the news of the  female wizard sends the citizens of Discworld into a tail-spin.

With their biting satire and limitless imagination, it is easy to understand why 80 million Discworld books have been sold worldwide. Equal Rites possesses rich characterizations, a journey of awareness, and even a hint of romance from master storyteller Terry Pratchett.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062225696
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/29/2013
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 35,051
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

This is a story about magic and where it goes and perhaps more importantly where it comes from and why, although it doesh't pretend to answer all or any of these questions.

It may, however, help to explain why Gandalf never got married and why Merlin was a man. Because this is also a story about sex, although probably not in the athletic, tumbling, count-the-legs-and-divide-by-two sense unless the characters get totally beyond the author's control. They might.

However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.

A bass note sounds. It is a deep, vibrating chord that hints that the brass section may break in at any moment with a fanfare for the cosmos, because the scene is the blackness of deep space with a few stars glittering like the dandruff on the shoulders of God.

Then it comes into view overhead, bigger than the biggest, most unpleasantly armed starcruiser in the imagination of a three-ring filmmaker: a turtle, ten thousand miles long. It is Great A'Tuin, one of the rare astrochelonians from a universe where things are less as they are and more like people imagine them to be, and it carries on its meteorpocked shell four giant elephants who bear on their enormous shoulders the great round wheel of the Discworld.

As the viewpoint swings around, the whole of the world can be seen by the light of its tiny orbiting sun. There are continents, archipelagos, seas, deserts, mountain ranges and even a tiny central ice cap. The inhabitants of this place, it is obvious, won't have any truck with global theories. Their world, bounded by anencircling ocean that falls forever into space in one long waterfall, is as round and flat as a geological pizza, although without the anchovies.

A world like that, which exists only because the gods enjoy a joke, must be a place where magic can survive. And sex too, of course.

He came walking through the thunderstorm and you could tell he was a wizard, partly because of the long cloak and carven staff but mainly because the raindrops were stopping several feet from his head, and steaming.

It was good thunderstorm country, up here in the Ramtop Mountains, a country of jagged peaks, dense forests and little river valleys so deep the daylight had no sooner reached the bottom than it was time to leave again. Ragged wisps of cloud clung to the lesser peaks below the mountain trail along which the wizard slithered and slid. A few slot-eyed goats watched him with mild interest. It doesn't take a lot to Interest goats.

Sometimes he would stop and throw his heavy staff into the air. It always came down pointing the same way and the wizard would sigh, pick it up, and continue his squelchy progress.

The storm walked around the hills on legs of lightning, shouting and grumbling.

The wizard disappeared around the bend in the track and the goats went back to their damp grazing.

Until something else caused them to look up. They stiffened, their eyes widening, their nostrils flaring.

This was strange, because there was nothing on the path. But the goats still watched it pass by until it was out of sight.

There was a village tucked in a narrow valley between steep woods. It wasn't a large village, and wouldn't have shown up on a map of the mountains. It barely showed up on a map of the village.

It was, in fact, one of those places that exist merely so that people can have come from them. The universe is littered with them: hidden villages, windswept little towns under wide sides, isolated cabins on chilly mountains, whose only mark on history is to be the incredibly ordinary place where something extraordinary started to happen. Often there is no more than a little plaque to reveal that, against all gynecological probability someone very famous was born halfway up a wall.

Mist curled between the houses as the wizard crossed a narrow bridge over the swollen stream and made his way to the village smithy, although the two facts had nothing to do with one another. The mist would have curled anyway: it was experienced mist and had got curling down to a fine art.

The smithy was fairly crowded, of course. A smithy is one place where you can depend on finding a good fire and someone to talk to. Several villagers were lounging in the warm shadows but, as the wizard approached, they sat up expectantly and tried to look intelligent, generally with indifferent success.

The smith didn't feel the need to be quite so subservient.

He nodded at the wizard, but it was a greeting between equals, or at least between equals as far as the smith was concerned. After all, any halfway competent blacksmith has more than a nodding acquaintance with magic, or at least likes to think he has.

The wizard bowed. A white cat that had been sleeping by the furnace woke up and watched him carefully.

"What is the name of this place, sir?" said the wizard.

The blacksmith shrugged.

"Bad Ass," he said.

"Bad — ?"

"Ass," repeated the blacksmith, his tone defying anyone to make something of it.

The wizard considered this.

"A name with a story behind it," he said at last, "which were circumstances otherwise I would be pleased to hear. But I would like to speak to you, smith, about your son."

"Which one?" said the smith, and the hangers-on sniggered. The wizard smiled.

"You have seven sons, do you not? And you yourself were an eighth son?"

The smith's face stiffened. He turned to the other villagers.

"All right, the rain's stopping," he said. "Piss off, the lot of you. Me and — " he looked at the wizard with raised eyebrows.

"Drum Billet," said the wizard.

"Me and Mr. Billet have things to talk about." He waved his hammer vaguely and, one after another, craning over their shoulders in case the wizard did anything interesting, the audience departed.

Customer Reviews

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Equal Rites 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 147 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chapters are out of place and we cannot figure them out. Waste of money. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This review is specifically for the nook edition. It appears to have gotten mixed up in converting to nook. The last few chapters are displaced to the middle, which made it very confusing to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Page 49 of the Nook edition suddenly skips to the final few chapters of the book, not returning until page 114. Irritating.
LATeachCO More than 1 year ago
If you are intrigued by Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, but don't know where to start; I would start with this one. When I read it the first time, I began waiting impatiently for the next and the next and the next book. In this book we are introduced to the perceived difference between male and female magic, several important settings, and some characters and ideas that flow through all the books. Besides, it is just TOO much fun to miss and doesn't require any background knowledge of Discworld to love every minute of it.
jpmedusa More than 1 year ago
It's a good read just by itself, nice and clean storyline, not too cluttered with extra characters and tangents. I love the thinly veiled commentary on traditional gender roles! Pratchett writes such realistic female characters, I have met a few Granny Weatherwaxes in my time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much and periodically reread it. I've given it as a gift and recommend it to friends -- as well as buyers.
polarbear123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pratchett gets even better with the third instalment of the Discworld series. I thought I would miss Twoflower and Rincewind however the story of Esk and Granny Weatherwax captivated me from the very beginning. The pace is fast and the writing concise and full of imagination and clever puns and observations which still hold relevance today, surprisingly even though this was written in 1987. First class stuff and I will have to keep on reading through the series now!
mjmorrison1971 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Third of the Discworld Series & introduces us to the Witches. The book itself is very much a reflection on the way women have (and still are) treated. The book is a good laugh, and we see the role that women have played in societies as the first line of medical and personal care.
kaylol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! Granny in unfamiliar territory - the unseen university!
love2laf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable, but not nearly as punny as some of the others. Quick & fun.
PandorasRequiem on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The third installment in The Discworld Series, this book mainly centers around Eskarina; the 8th child of an 8th child; who is visited by a dying Wizard on his deathbed and given a magical wizard's staff and foretold that she will become a Wizard. Unfortunately, this takes place before it is known that she is in fact FEMALE, and much trouble ensues because of that overlooked fact. This book also contains the first appearance of Granny Weatherwax, arguably one of the best-drawn Witches in Fantasy today.What started out as an interesting premise for a story with some rather hilarious episodes in the conversations and teachings of Granny and Esk, soon seemed to be rather stretched thin towards the end. I am a big fan of Discworld and Terry Pratchett himself, but this book paled in comparison with the first two in the series. I didn't find it nearly as funny as the first two, and apart from Granny, I found the characters to be only half-drawn and lacking in interest for the most part. The ending as well felt a bit anti-climactic given the amount of time and energy it took to get to that point.
jnicholson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tale of Discworld feminism. Here we meet the witches of the Ramtops for the first time, as Eskarina Smith, 8th daughter of an 8th son, struggles to fulfil her destiny and become a wizard. A worthwhile read, but better was soon to come from the pen of Terry Pratchett.
isabelx on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When a dying wizard accidentally passes on his staff (and therefore his powers) to a baby girl called Eskarina, it rocks the status quo. Only men can be wizards, whose magic comes from the sky, while only women can be witches whose magic comes from the earth (the witches sneer at the mention of warlocks).A story about the need for traditions to change with the times rather than being set in stone eternally.
Alan_Dawson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the first appearance of Granny and what an appearance! I just loved how she acted, especially in the motherly guidance to help Eskarina. Oh i love the sibling rivalry and what esk does, but i wont spoil it for you, you will understand as soon as you read it. Hope you enjoy as i did
drbubbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted it to be more than it was: the humor was fine but I wanted the story fleshed out more, and perhaps treated a tad more seriously.
ChrisRiesbeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Third time's the charm. This is the Discworld book where things clicked into place, the first with Granny Weatherwax, and I believe Pratchett's first book featuring a juvenile hero(ine). I think these things are connected. Rincewind in the first two books was a buffoon who drove the story along fantasy spoofing lines. Granny and Eskarina are competent agents, at the opposite ends of the timeline. Granny is mature and respected -- at least in her village -- and Eskarina is young and under-appreciated. These are characters that both writer and reader want to see succeed because of who they are, not because comic plots demand a happy ending. And one you start writing sympathetic main characters, you have to start adding some sympathetic grace notes to the secondary characters as well. Others have noted with disappointment that Esk has not (yet) been featured in another Discworld novel. But to some extent, I think she has in the Tiffany Aching series. Recommended.
neverlistless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was my first Pratchett book and it did not disappoint. It tells the story of Eskarina (Esk), a young girl who has the power and the will to become a wizard in a world where women just are not wizards. Granny Weatherwax, a town witch, takes Esk under her wings to teach her the world of witchcraft, but it's just not enough.Esk then finds her way to the Unseen University where wizards are trained. Think a prequal to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry - wonderfully fantastic. Will she be allowed to become a wizard? After a struggle with the powers that be, we find out.
adharrington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Equal Rites is the story of the young girl Esk who finds out she was born a wizard. This is odd because everyone knows girls just can't be wizards. Even so, she is a wizard so she fights the establishment and learns to be a wizard anyway.It is impossible not to fall in love with this story. Though it does involve some more serious themes like women¿s rights and gender roles in society it manages to do it in a non overbearing way.This book could be used in the classroom as a light stepping stone into more serious subjects such as women¿s rights or just civil liberties in general. It is also just an enjoyable read and could be used to encourage reading in younger students. The strong female characters are every bit as encouraging to young girls as Harry Potter is to young boys.
391 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Equal Rites involves Esk, a young girl who wants to become a wizard. She's the eighth daughter of an eighth son, and comes equipped with a wizard's staff and Granny Weatherwax to Unseen University. I thought it was a solid novel, though I wish it didn't end so quickly - a few more things could have been better explained and developed. I wish we could see more of Simon and Esk, though I hear she may be making a cameo in the last Aching book!
KevlarRelic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about gender differences and magic. Thankfully gender stereotypes are avoided. It all comes together into a fun yarn in the end. It helps that this is one of my favorite types of stories, where the unassuming young person discovers they are really good at something, and rises to the top of that field despite all the doubters and odds against them. (Ender's Game, Harry Potter, and Dune to name a few.)
flipside3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy the Discworld series. I'm slowly working through the series, with the help of the library next door to my office. This book has more fun with the magic of Discworld, and the gender politics of its magic users.The ending was a bit of a jumbled mess, but that was probably the point. I can see this as setting up people, places, and events for use in the future books. The humor was as sharp and witty as ever.
JFBallenger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This third book in the Discworld series was a major step forward for Pratchett. His first two books (The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic) were masterful comic parodies of the fantasy genre. But in focusing on gender relations and discrimination, this book, while as wildly inventive and entertaining as the first two, marked his emergence as a major social satirist.
comfypants on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good as the first two books (this is the 3rd), but still great. The main characters were all new, and not nearly as entertaining as Rincewind or the luggage, but I'll still look forward to reading more books about them.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You get to meet Granny Weatherwax in this book, though the rest of the witches don't come in until later volumes. The writing still isn't quite as good as the later books, but I definitely enjoyed this. The story line where the witches are the major characters continues in Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum, and in the Tiffany Aching series.
stephmo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The eighth son of the eighth son is destined to become a wizard - simple enough formula, right? Unless you're an impatient wizard on the verge of death unwilling to listen to the midwife who is trying to help you avoid the embarrassment of passing along your wizardry rights to a baby girl. But such is the danger of assumption and this is how Esk's destiny is decided the day she's born. Nevermind that everyone is quite sure that it's all bunk - since everyone knows there's no such thing as a girl wizard. But as things go, the witch that knows all things magic, Granny Weatherwax, eventually has to admit that they need to travel to Unseen University and figure out how to control her quickly developing powers, even if it's impossible for a girl to get in through the two traditional methods of entry. Now, if only the entire of existence weren't hanging in the balance when they get there...Pratchett manages to weave not just a tale of the lore of wizardry on Disc World, but one of existence in general - a sort of philosophy within a philosophy with an overreaching philosophy sort of thing. With laughs. And quite a bit about hats.