a BRILLIANT read, and even more incentive for me to make my own wizards trope-defying and excellent.
God it’s fascinating to look at the timestamp on this one and then realize that Pratchett went on to write his Witches Series and Granny Weatherwax, who’s strong and fierce and brilliant and austere and so achingly, bitterly, intensely good. I think Granny Weatherwax would give Gandalf a hard look and Gandalf would remember he had a very urgent appointment three shires away and stroll off really fast.
Holy fuck, everybody go read this right now.
Pratchett is one of the people whose work is not only hilarious, but legitimately brilliant. I learned so much from reading his books. Even this talk is peppered with the kind of thing that makes you snort out loud and get stared at by coworkers:
No wonder witches were always portrayed as toothless — it was living in a 90,000 calorie house that did it. You’d hear a noise in the night and it’d be the local kids, eating the doorknob.
And he fucking nails the witch/wizard dichotomy. Wizards = wise, powerful, organized, educated; witches = crones who give you warts. The Tiffany Aching series addresses this directly, as do the regular Discworld books focusing on the Lancre witches. Like Roach says, Granny Weatherwax is achingly, bitterly, intensely good, and that’s partly because she’s constantly aware of how easy it would be to be bad. How someone has to do the mucky jobs and help the obnoxious and stupid and never, ever take credit for anything you didn’t do; how the hardest thing is to stay balanced just on the edge between extremes, maintain that equilibrium, do what needs to be done no matter how awful or difficult it may be. Wizards never have to think about this. They just forge straight ahead, eating big dinners and squabbling amongst themselves and taking their power for granted.
Come to think of it, that’s one of the most significant divisions of power in Discworld: the men all gang up into this big elitist mob and loll around indolently, specifically not doing magic. Their magic is so powerful and dangerous that it’s a better use of their time to all keep each other down, all the wizard books basically revolve around ‘Oh no, someone’s doing magic, we’d better stomp them flat and then go home for second breakfast’. They keep the world from turning inside out but not much more than that, and they’re kind of a bunch of assholes about it too. Meanwhile the witches are just grimly slogging along, delivering babies and rousting out vampires and changing compresses, like, they stake out territories and then take care of everyone in it… while everyone still thinks that wizards are respectable and witches are shady.
The line about equal rites killed me, though. The insightful commentary (on the internet no less) here helped buffer that.