My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Source: Personal copy
Genre: Science Fiction; Fantasy
Objectionable material: Not a single thing.
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble. Macbeth Act 4, Scene 1
When Duke Felmet kills King Verence and names himself the new King of Lancre, Verence's ghost haunts the castle and his young son is smuggled out of the kingdom and taken to a coven of three witches for protection. These witches bestow three gifts upon the baby and place him with the owner of an acting troupe. The new king is an evil one, and the entire kingdom (animal, vegetable, and mineral) expresses its displeasure. How could the witches possibly refrain from using their magic skills to meddle in royal politics, place the rightful heir on the throne, and set things right?
This was my first foray into Discworld and the writings of Terry Pratchett. All I can say is – what took me so long!
Every character is uniquely hilarious:
• The three witches – Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick – can ride circles around the kingdom and lead wayward kings back home to their kingdom.
• Fool – aide to the current King – but not as foolish as the royal couple might think.
• Tomjon – an actor by trade, but a noble by birth, he’d much rather be on stage than on a throne.
• Hwel (Will?) – playwright extraordinaire, with a passing familiarity to the Bard.
• Death – he’s always there, waiting.
The story is a clever lampoon of Shakespeare from the opening scene onwards. It's a fast-paced romp through a parody of scenes, themes, and lines from Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard III and many more. Pratchett also throws in references to Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty (not to mention others I have probably missed). Not only is it a spoof of Shakespeare – but also a mash up of Shakespeare in Love, The Princess Bride and Monty Python.
I haven’t howled reading a book in a very long time. Dare I say, I was bewitched?
It was wickedly funny.