Fantasy Review: ‘Maskerade’ by Terry Pratchett

Maskerade (Discworld, #18)Part 18 of The Complete Discworld Reread

At this point I am so far into this reread I can expect anyone not semi familiar with the books in question to be completely lost.  And while most Discworld books can be read as standalone books, I really feel this one requires the history provided by the witch books before it.  I guess what I am saying is, if you’re not a Discworld fan already, just skip everything I have written.  CUE MUSIC!

Granny, Nanny need one more for coven

Agnus, Pedita X is perfect for them

She is so far away from them

Head down to the carriage station

And Listen to the music of the night Discworld.

And thus brings an early end to my attempt to fit a review entirely into the framework of Music of the Night.  Sorry shouldn’t have even tried.  Have a quote instead.

“We have to ask ourselves: is this the career of a sane man?”

“But why is he doing it?” wailed Bucket.

“That is only a relevant question if he is sane.”

This is the second surprise of this long reread.  The first surprise was thinking that I had read Pyramids before and realizing that I never had.  Whoops.  The surprise in Maskerade was in just how good it was.  My memory had it down as one of the lesser books of the series, perhaps the worst of the Lancre witch books.  For some reason one throwaway gag toward the end of the book stuck in my memory, making me think the book was full of easy parodies and cheap laughs.  This wasn’t the case at all; in fact this was a surprisingly good entry to the series that I had underrated pretty badly.

For one the humor is a sharp as in any other entry.  I dare a person not to rediscover their juvenile side when learning what is in Nanny’s famous cookbook.  Especially when a slightly irked Nanny unleashes the special chocolate sauce on a room full of very important people.  Somehow Pratchett manages to fit pages of sexual innuendo into a book without it ever feeling vulgar.  We even get to see straight laced Granny show off a sense of humor; Nanny and her have some great one-upmanship going.

The book also has one of Pratchett’s tightest plots.  Even I, huge fan that I am, can admit that sometimes Discworld plotting can be quite confusing.  This time all goes soothingly, quite a feat considering all the jokes packed into every page.  Granny is bored, the witch her and Nanny need to complete their coven is trying out Opera in the big city, and all it takes is an excuse to go out and see how she is doing.  Once there they are sucked into a murder mystery that may seem familiar, a ghost with as split personality is alternately helping out the actors and killing off staff.

A few notes of interest, at least to me.  The Cable Street Peculiars show up for the first time, in a very different form than we see in Night Watch.  This book continues the tradition of placing the witches within a specific story, but doesn’t really play around with the power of stories themselves as much (with one major exception).  I could very well be wrong, but this is the first I remember seeing specific watch characters outside of the Watch books, the stories are starting to blend more and more.  And lastly, this book has one of my favorite ending scenes around.  The ending itself is a bit trite, but what is going on in the background with Granny is too awesome for words.

4 Stars.  Granny is still the best character in fantasy.

Note:  You may be asking yoruself, did Nathan write this review drunk?  I can assure you no, I just seemed to be incapable of stringing together a thought while writing this.


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