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Book cover art by Ben Perrini (left).
Review © 2002 by Thomas M. Wagner.

One of the funniest entries in the whole Discworld series, Wyrd Sisters is Pratchett's spoof of Macbeth. This one had me laughing out loud more often and more consistently than any one I've read to date. When King Verence of Lancre is treacherously murdered by Duke Felmet, the king's infant heir is spirited away from the crumbling castle (described as having been built "by an architect who had heard of Gormenghast but hadn't got the budget"), where he ends up in the hands of, naturally, three witches. Of course, these witches include Granny Weatherwax and her two cronies Magret and Nanny Ogg, whose arguments over whether or not they actually make up a coven are interrupted by the arrival of this little bundle...and his crown.

Granny and company place the child in the care of a roving theatrical troupe, while the crown is hidden away in a props box. Back at the castle, the late king still wanders the halls as one very annoyed ghost, and the duke threatens to slip further and further into madness as he fears the very trees in the forest are out to get him. (Pratchett even remembers the whole hand-washing problem, though he gives it to the duke himself rather than his wife.)

But now the kingdom itself is stirring, all the flora and fauna. Lancre wants a king who cares about its well-being, not simply his own power. And it seems as if the kingdom wants Granny Weatherwax to do something about it. But how can she? One simply doesn't use one's magic to rule over others. She simply can't meddle in Lancre's affairs. But it does seem as if things will only get worse, if someone doesn't do something!

Wyrd Sisters is a marvelous book that delivers a nonstop volley of belly-laughs while driving home anything resembling a message (responsibility, and all that) with much-appreciated subtlety. There's a freshness to this early series entry that isn't quite as evident in later books, but on the whole it's a fine book to start the series with if you're a new reader. In fact, this is the one I'd give someone who's just caught the fantasy-reading bug thanks to Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, and is looking for something just as fresh and exciting. Wyrd Sisters is the perfect way to keep them away from the tedium of Jordan and Brooks, the juvenilia of Anthony, and the graphic violence of Goodkind, at least for a little while. As always, Pratchett brings real magic back into fantasy every time he boots up his word processor. How wyrd is that?