Equal Rites

*Also published on Goodreads*

I have an odd obsession where I have to read everything in chronological order, even if the stories can be taken as stand alone entities. For example, when I started getting into comics I really wanted to read the Batman story ‘Hush’. However, I was worried that I would not understand certain events that may be within the graphic novel as I had not read any of the proceeding work. So I found a chronological list online and started to purchase graphic novels in the order stated. This allowed me to get a great view of the chronological tale of Batman but, due to other commitments and lack of money, it took me a while before I got to Hush. Fast forward eight years and I finally had the graphic novel that started my obsession with chronology in my hands. I read it. It wasn’t that great.

The meaning behind this tale is that, despite it not always working out for me, I need to read stories in chronological order. It’s just something I do, get over it. So, when it came to starting the novels of Terry Pratchett – I was a latecomer to his work having instead grown up on Douglas Adams and Rob Grant – I started from the very beginning, despite everyone I talked to telling me otherwise. His first few books are not his greatest, I’m sure we all agree. But I trudged through The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, enjoying them to a certain degree. Then it came time for me to reach his third novel Equal Rites.

Something else that I am also doing (only with Pratchett) is not reading the blurb to the book, allowing me to go into the experience blind with little expectation. I’m sure in later novels this may come as an advantage but for Equal Rites it was not for the main reason that this book has little to no plot. Now I am fine with novels that do this, one of my favourite authors specifically wrote a book without a plot to see if she could. Yet where my main gripe comes with this specific book is that the lack of plot also gives it a lack of direction. A character has a goal in life, as do most, and when that goal is perceived as unachievable she gets resigned to a demeaning job and waits for life to work around her. Again, not something I normally mind, yet I just couldn’t get on board with this specific example.

Expanding on the lack of plot, Equal Rites has trouble forming conflict, which in turn is detrimental to the plot. The main antagonists in this book are either the wizards, a bumbling set of misogynists stuck in their ways, or faceless beings simply referred to as ‘the Things’. I understand that the point of the book was to discuss the idea of gender politics, maybe as an apology for Pratchett’s earlier befalling into the anti-feminist territory during his first two books, but again it was just kind of fumbled. Also by having no visible described villain made them seem less of a threat. Even their motive felt somewhat veiled until pointed out in the final act.

Everything that I am saying may be exactly the point of the book and I am simply not getting it, but I feel that Equal Rites still belongs in the category of Pratchett’s books that are not often mentioned. But the man wrote more than forty books so it is very unlikely that all of them are going to be genre breaking… says the unpublished writer creating reviews of books decades old to an audience of his friends and that one person from America.

3/5

One Reply to “Equal Rites”

  1. Equal Rites isn’t one of my favourites but I far prefer his earlier stuff to his later stuff; I reckon you’ll be the other way around and you’ll love not only Vimes and his crew but Moist and all the other later guys.
    Pratchett’s early stuff is very heavy on parody and some are more obvious than others (if you don’t get Wyrd Sisters I will have to disown you). What I learned yesterday, and had absolutely no idea about, was the references he makes to Ursula K LeGuin ‘s Earthsea series in this book. I’ll have to reread it… At some point… Um…
    Anyway, good review and I’m sorry the book didn’t do much for you.

    P.S I’m exactly the same about the whole chronological thing

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