Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★★
Lords and Ladies is a very loose parody of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. The witches have arrived back from Genua to a Lancre summer where crop circles are blooming like flowers. Magrat is to be married to King Verence on Midsummer’s Day, and Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg suspect that sadistic elves are trying to break into Lancre. At the same time, some wizards from the Unseen University decide to attend the wedding
With all this going on, it is remarkable how coherent Lords and Ladies is. Everything ties together very well and all merges into a cohesive whole. The plotting and pacing is on point, and the pages easily flip by.
What really makes Lords and Ladies stand out to me is the character growth of Magrat and Granny. Early on in the novel, Magrat gets into the inevitable fight with the older witches: she’s tired of them keeping her out of the loop and treating her like an assistant, not a real witch. As a result of the fight, Magrat is determined to give up witching and just be queen instead. But almost instantaneously she’s at a loss for what to do. She drifts through the castle, feeling bored out of her mind by tapestry work.
“Magrat was bored. She’d never been bored when she was a witch. Permanently bewildered and overworked yes, but not bored.”
Meanwhile, Granny Weatherwax is beginning to feel uncertain for the first time in her life. She’s also makes some mistakes, principally in regard to how she treats Magrat, that have a real effect upon the plot. Granny is often prone to coming off as an unstoppable force, so this goes a long way into making Granny more of a believable character.
I also want to say that I love the friendship between Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Both of them chose very different paths in life but can’t imagine living differently. Granny never wishes that she’d chosen marriage and children instead – she’s perfectly contented with the life she has.
“Other people would probably say: I wasn’t myself. But Granny Weatherwax didn’t have anyone else to be.”
I would highly recommend Lords and Ladies, especially for people already familiar with the witches.