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A spot-on send-up of Shakespeare, witches and fairy tales
on May 20, 2002
Although Terry Pratchett has abandoned non-stop satire in his Discworld books after "The Light Fantastic," "Wyrd Sisters" is as much a satire as it is a character and world-building novel, this time taking some very solid shots at William Shakespeare, "Macbeth," "Hamlet," the popular conception(s) of witches, and even a bit of a riff on fairy tales.
A jealous relative has killed the King of Lancre, who is now stuck (literally) haunting his castle. But his infant son has been delivered into the care of three witches, including the formidable Granny Weatherwax, who refuse to meddle in politics. Well, that's what they say, anyway ...
As a Shakespeare enthusiast, I found the parodies of both plays spot on and very fun -- elements of it hold up very favorably next to "Shakespeare in Love" -- and as a fan of fantasy novels, I was delighted to see how Pratchett handled the problem of needing (REALLY needing) to get a usurper off the throne with an heir to the throne who's not even potty trained.
A word of warning: The hamhanded marketing copy in the back pages of the book promoting the Discworld series gives away the end of this novel. I'm not sure what they were thinking there ...
Although I mostly prefer the Unseen University novels, "Wyrd Sisters" is easily one of my favorite Discworld novels, and indeed, novels in general. Whole-heartedly recommended to fans of Discworld, Shakespeare or fantasy with a sense of humor.