There are no inconsistencies in the Discworld books; ocassionally, however, there are alternate pasts.
- Terry Pratchett, alt-fan-pratchett
Spoilers of plot details for future books should be boxed, spoilers for characters can go unboxed. Be warned though, if you haven’t read more than the three first books in the DW series, there will probably be spoilers regarding character development for future books. Part of the fun of going back is visiting old characters and seeing how they’ve evolved.
Granny Weatherwax is the second oldest recurring character in the series, next to Rincewind. And whereas Rincewind seems to be fading more and more into the background in later books (he just a cardboard figure in Science of Discworld III), it doesn’t seem as if Pterry’s tired of Granny, though I doubt we will get more books with her as the main character, mostly because it seems to me that Pratchett is using more and more of his older characters in cameos or as part of upstaging a new character (as with Vimes in The Truth and Monstrous Regiment).
Granny isn’t really totally fleshed out, as compared to what we will get in later books. She works as a dramatic character here, but it’s only with the introduction of Gytha Ogg that the comedy comes alive. However, Pterry introduces a very important concept, invented on the Disc by Granny – Headology. I think it’s a marvelous concept, not psychology, but something more. Esk’s realization about it and the pointy hat is clearly a journey into how humans on earth work, not how magic works on DW. In marketing, there’s a saying that “perception is reality”, i.e. it’s not what you make, but how the consumer perceives it that matters. When there’s anxiety about caffeine and Schweppes slapped “no caffeine” on the labels of its tonic water bottles, it’s headology at work. Tonic water never had caffeine, but suddenly it’s a selling point. Same with Rispinos, marketed with the “no fat” label, even though the calorie content is roughly the same as potato chips.
There’s no doubt that on DW, where narrativium plays such a strong role, headology is important, but it’s even more important here.
Pterry leaves Granny in Ankh-Morpork, chatting with the Cutangle, but this is clearly out of character, as is her contemplating to set up business in Ankh-Morpork. I cut Pterry a lot of slack, but this is bordering on annoying for me. There’s also been quite a lot of speculation over the years about what happened to Esk and many think she’s clearly too good a character to have been just discarded, which Pterry did anyway. I don’t know how he could have used her, though. She’s more of a plot device, than a character, as is Coin in sourcery.
If The light Fantastic had a clearer narrative flow, this is a story, told even tighter. There’s still something that annoys me about this and many early books, and that’s how Pterry sort of don’t really start and stop the story. It’s as if the first couple of pages have him sidling and sneaking up on the main event and the last pages sort of just dwindles away. I’m sure he has a point to this, since a recurring theme is that it’s hard to pinpoint when things begin and end. It’s still annoying, though.
Another recurring theme her is about the young person coming of age and going through changes or forcing changes on others. Equal Rites, Mort, Sourcery, Wyrd sisters, Pyramids, Eric, Reaper Man, Small Gods (to an extent – Brutha is very childlike in the beginning), Soul Music, Maskerade, Thief of Time and Monstrous regiment. As a plot device it’s kinda formulaic.
The puns are wonderful. I don’t envy those trying to translate DW: “The lodgings were on the top floor next to the well-guarded premises of a respectable dealer in stolen property because, as Granny had heard, good fences make good neighbours."
A couply of things I wonder about: All the witches in the DW have honorary titles: Granny, Goody, Nanny… Clearly Esme Weatherwax isn’t a grandmother, and I’ve herad these titles in other context, the Scarlet Letter, I think. Why and how ASF.
Also, Mrs Whitlow is mentioned (but will be changed for later books) as someone who drops her aitches, but in the text, Pterry adds “h” were there shoudn’t be one: “his there a message from the Hother Sade?” I understand that leaving out “h” where one should be is a sign of working class in England, but this doesn’t add up.