Lords and Ladies is the 14th Discworld book by Terry Prattchett, which is a feat in and of itself, and it’s the 4th book to focus on the Lancre coven of witches. I had initially disliked Granny Weatherwax in her first couple of books, but along with her ever present friend Nanny Ogg she has become one of my favorite inhabitants of the Disc. Lords and Ladies deals with the pending marriage of Magrat Garlick, the third member of the coven, to the king of Lancre and a simultaneous outbreak of elves. Only Prattchett’s elves aren’t of the “Fa la la la” or toy-making kind. They’re more the “take over the world and torture people to death” kind.
What’s interesting about Lords and Ladies is that it shows how Prattchett has grown at this point into being able to tell a pretty good adventure story with genuine character arcs (or in Granny Weatherwax’s case, revealing what’s already there, since she’s too stubborn to change) and at the same time being really funny. And of course the author’s signature social satire is in palce, with his taking pot shots at everything from Shakesphere’s Midsummer Night’s Dream to the feudal system to psychology to superstitions about crop circles to the whole goth culture. It’s dizzying sometimes, but often very funny. Plus it features Cassanunda, world’s second greatest dwarf lover and repairer of step ladders. Some of my favorite quotes:
“Mustrum Ridcully did a lot for rare species. For one thing, he kept them rare.”
“Nanny Ogg looked under her bed in case there was a man there. Well, you never knew your luck.”
“The shortest unit of time in the multiverse is the New York Second, defined as the period of time between the traffic lights turning green and the cab behind you honking.”
“In the Beginning there was nothing, which exploded.”
“And the child had a permanently runny nose and ought to be provided with a handkerchief or, failing that, a cork.
But Magrat, like this, frightened him more than the elves. It was like being charged by a sheep.