“The duke had a mind that ticked like a clock and, like a clock, it regularly went cuckoo.” – Terry Pratchett
My revisit of the frankly brilliant Discworld series brings me to book number six; Wyrd Sisters. This is the second in the Witches series. And I will be upfront in saying this: it isn’t one of my favourites. Now, let me caveat this. In a series of 41 core books, plus short stories and spin-off books, they can’t all be favourites. This doesn’t mean I don’t like the book, rather that it is one I am not as fond of in comparison to a number of others in the series.
Wyrd Sisters continues Pratchett’s now well-known theme of real world parody. The core theme is a riff on Shakespeare’s Macbeth. That may be part of why it doesn’t sit too high on my list of favourites – I never was overly fond of old Bill’s work. But, as with many in this series, it highlights and parodies many parts of Roundworld.
One such concept is that there is a fine line between ambition and insanity. As already mentioned, this book is a parody of the classic tragedy involving greed, desire, ambition and a descent into madness. The villainous Duke, like in the tale of Macbeth, kills the king and attempts to take the throne. Wracked with holding the guilt in, he slowly goes insane, pleading innocence when no accusations are levelled his way. Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ambition. Ambition is what leads us to better ourselves, to strive for more in life. Once that ambition becomes greed, however, then we have a problem. Greed makes us rash, and causes us to react over the top, which often causes repressed guilt.
Destiny has a wonderful knack of throwing a rather large spanner in the works of ambition. Well, it does if you believe in destiny, anyway. And in a world run on Narrativia, filled with wonderful, and sometimes frightful inhabitants, who would bet against Destiny having a stake in things. As often seems to be the way of this world, destiny rears its head and sets the story straight, undoing the wrongs of murder, and reasserting its power, putting the right man on the throne.
By no means a bad story, the closeness to Shakespeare, and possibly the piece of his work I like the least, leads me to struggle with this book whenever I read it. I like it, but unlike much of the series, I don’t love it, which probably explains the brevity of this post. But having read most of the series, I know there are better stories to come, so onwards, readers! Next up – Pyramids.