When I asked my partner how to best get out of a motivational rut, they recommended reading a book that you know that you will enjoy. In fact, they specifically said to read the next Discworld on my list. Given that this was Maskerade, the next book in the Witches sub-series, it was hardly an onerous decision.
Following Magrat’s marriage at the end of Lords and Ladies, the witches are now missing the Maiden from their trinity, left with only the Mother and the… Other One. Remembering that a girl from Lancre, Agnes Nitt, had previously shown promise as a witch, and concerned that Granny Weatherwax may go Black Aliss without the right mental stimulation, Nanny Ogg decides to recruit her as their new Maiden. Meanwhile, Agnes, styling herself as Perdita, has travelled to Ankh-Morpork to try and make her way as an opera singer. Whilst at the opera house, she has to deal with providing the voice for a colleague with no actual talent of her own, and rumours of an Opera Ghost murdering members of the troupe.
It was lovely to see Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg again, and I think I need to thank my partner for pointing out the obvious for me. There was something comforting about seeing them at their best, terrifying entire stagecoaches of people and poking their noses into situations where they aren’t wanted, but soon prove to be needed. Agnes had technically been introduced in an earlier Discworld novel, but this felt like a proper introduction. While I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, her realisation that, while she desperately wants to be a part of the opera world, she will never quite fit in was unexpectedly difficult to read for me. It was a bit more real than I had prepared myself for, those echoes of being the fat nerdy girl at school. I’ll be interested to see how Agnes develops further down the line.
The stuff at the opera was an entertaining backdrop, with some nice nods to Phantom of the Opera, but I wasn’t as enamoured with the setting as I have been with some of his other pastiches. I think, having studied opera briefly at university and occasionally watching it, that Pratchett did himself a disservice by not going over-the-top enough. I was kind of expecting there to be more balls-to-the-wall insanity and disappointed that it wasn’t there.
An incredibly entertaining pastiche of opera and the wonders that can happen when thoroughly sensible people come along and try and make sense of things. I feel like it could have been more over-the-top, but it’s always great to see Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg cause havoc. 4.5/5
Next review: Blue Angel by Phil Williams