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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maskerading as
Terry Pratchett's satirical eye doesn't spare anybody or anything, and in his nineteenth Discworld book "Maskerade," it's opera's turn to suffer. In his typically barbed prose, he gleefully spoofs the "Phantom of the Opera," lampoons opera in general, and takes the opportunity to take everyone's favorite witches out to Ankh-Morpork.

Magrat Garlick is newly...
Published on Aug. 3 2007 by E. A Solinas

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Mid-Level Pratchett
Mid-level Pratchett, not up there with INTERESTING TIMES or down there with ERIC. The somewhat claustrophobic action takes place entirely in the Ankh-Morpork Opera House, and Pratchett is mainly out to satirize opera, opera singers, and opera lovers, as well as all the variants of Gaston Leroux's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. The hard-to-take Granny Weatherwax dominates the...
Published on May 9 2001 by Rory Coker


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maskerading as, Aug. 3 2007
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
Terry Pratchett's satirical eye doesn't spare anybody or anything, and in his nineteenth Discworld book "Maskerade," it's opera's turn to suffer. In his typically barbed prose, he gleefully spoofs the "Phantom of the Opera," lampoons opera in general, and takes the opportunity to take everyone's favorite witches out to Ankh-Morpork.

Magrat Garlick is newly married and crowned. As a result, Granny Weatherwax is moody and bored, while Nanny pens an erotic cookbook -- and when it turns out that she's being cheated of royalties, Granny decides to go to Ankh-Morpork and confront her publisher. Meanwhile, the primary witch-maiden candidate, Agnes Nitt, has also gone to Ankh-Morpork to become an opera singer.

But the opera isn't all it's cracked up to be -- Agnes finds herself providing the voice for pretty, airheaded Christine, and the opera ghost is causing some major disasters. Granny and Nanny immerse themselves in the backstage -- and onstage -- drama of the opera, trying to figure out who the Phantom is... and why he's a friend one minute and a foe the next.

It's obvious that the opera holds no awe for Pratchett. Sure, the novel is a spoof of Gaston Leroux's novel, but Pratchett's real intention here is to constantly make fun of the opera, both as entertainment and art form. The entire climax of the book is devoted to making fun of opera's illogic, lack of acting, and such time-honored traditions as a dying person flawlessly singing for about fifteen minutes before expiring.

But it's not all opera spoofery. Despite some grisly deaths and the psycho Phantom (who sends notes filled with maniacal laughter), getting the witches out of Lancre gives the whole story a light, fun feel. It has some darker scenes, such as Granny playing cards with Death for a baby's life, but most of it is dedicated to the witches doing the sort of weird things they'd never do at home (impersonating duchesses, for one).

Pratchett sprinkles the storyline with hilarious dialogue, wacky situations (Nanny Ogg moonlights as the world's fattest ballerina), and some swashbuckling. And he includes a small message as well, about being the sort of person we actually want to be -- and how "masks" on the outside can change us.

Agnes Nitt has a lot of pagetime, but she seems rather fussy and pallid next to Granny and Nanny -- we get to see just how strong their friendship really is, despite their bickering. Granny shines especially, courtesy of a shopping spree, some coach rides and some dodgy darkish magic. And we have a wide array of timid janitors, annoying managers and airheaded sopranos to round out the cast.

"Maskerade" is a gleeful, glorious spoof of opera in general, and a fun outing for the Lancre witches. Definitely a solid entry for Pratchett.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phantom of the Opera Meets Bewitched, Sept. 23 2001
This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
Terry Pratchett revisits Discworld yet again in this parody of the world of opera and music theatre. But herein lies his problem--the world of opera and music theatre may not be very well known to many of his readers. While The Phantom of the Opera will probably be a clearly recognizable basis for the plot, how many will understand the references that make similar Discworld novels so thoroughly funny? For example, Death tries to dispatch a swan, but before he goes the swan must sing for the one and only time in his life, which he refuses to do. Death challenges the swan's knowledge of operatic repertoire and tricks him into singing the Pedlar's song from Lohenshaak, which begins "Schneide meinen eigenen Hals". Few will recognize the timely reference to Lohengren and its swans, and surely only German speakers will realise that the swan is tricked into singing the words "cut my own neck." However, although some jokes are for aficionados only, others run the gamut from the over-obvious fat jokes through silliness (the Phantom writes out his maniacal laughter and uses 5 exclamation points!!!!!) to wry observation (the difference between opera and madness is "better scenery"; and the telling feature of good music, according to one critic, is that "it's got blobs and curly bits all over it".) Prachett, in his most insightful observation, has one of his characters comment, "The plots don't make sense! Half the stories rely on people not recognizing their servants or wives because they've got a tiny mask on! Large ladies play the part of consumptive girls! No one can act properly!...There should be a sign on the door saying 'Leave your common sense here'! If it wasn't for the music, the whole thing would be ridiculous!"
Certainly if you haven't read Pratchett before, this is not the book to start with, and if you are looking for hard-core fantasy, this is not for you either. Discworld is a reflection of our own world, a vehicle to parody our own foibles. It is not a place for heroic quests and sorcerely legerdemain (music lovers looking for such are recommended Greg Bear's "Songs of Earth and Power")--any tasks of daring-do are sure to go awry in as comical a fashion as possible. But for those in quest of a laugh, and without too refined a sense of humor, Discworld is a fine place to visit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A true masterpiece of laughter, Aug. 24 2001
By 
F. G. Hamer "MadManxMan" (Isle of Man) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
If you've never heard of Terry Pratchett, you're clearly living on the wrong planet. So join the rest of us in Pratchett's Discworld and enjoy the antics of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, the Disc's best-known witches. Visit Ankh-Morpork's Opera House with them (accompanied by their lunatic guests). You'll marvel at the amazing scenes of chaos that Pratchett can conjure up, seemingly without trying. And no matter what the topic, Pratchett is able to satirize it and make you question your former opinions - and you'll howl with laughter as you do so. I've read quite a lot of Discworld books and there are not many that have not held a chuckle a page and a full belly laugh a chapter. Maskerade lives up to its author's reputation in full, satirizing opera, theatre production, the lot - and all with a smile on his face. If, after reading Maskerade, you are in any doubt that Terry Prachett is not the most creative and funniest contemporary author around, you've obviously got a funny bone missing somewhere. Although it is not his best work, Maskerade is still hilarious and well worthy of five stars.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A witty and hilarious addition to Discworld, May 11 2001
By 
Jane S. Anderson (West Des Moines, IA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
If you are in any doubt that Terry Prachett is not one of the best contemporary satirical authors, you obviously have not read Maskerade. Although it is not his best work, Maskerade is hilarious and contains Prachett's trademark wit. In this installment of the Discworld chronicles, Prachett celebrates and satirizes the world of opera. Any fan of Discworld, Terry Prachett, or The Phantom of the Opera will enjoy this humorous and witty book. The only flaws I found were the unusual absence of Prachett's usually entertaining footnotes and the section in the middle of the story where the action started to lag and get rather boring. However, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a story that is hilarious, yet still very clever.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Mid-Level Pratchett, May 9 2001
By 
Rory Coker (Austin, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
Mid-level Pratchett, not up there with INTERESTING TIMES or down there with ERIC. The somewhat claustrophobic action takes place entirely in the Ankh-Morpork Opera House, and Pratchett is mainly out to satirize opera, opera singers, and opera lovers, as well as all the variants of Gaston Leroux's PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. The hard-to-take Granny Weatherwax dominates the action, what little there is of it. The ostensible main character, "Perdita X Dream" as she calls herself, never comes to life for a second, or has much of anything to do in the novel's development.
There are walkons from several Discworld regulars, such as Nobby and the Librarian, but by and large this really isn't a Discworld novel--- that is, it could take place anywhere. It is difficult to figure out how Pratchett wants the reader to take some of the humor, and some of the apparently serious moments. For example the villain has a long, operatic death scene in which he berates opera virulently, in a perfectly straight tone. Is he speaking for Pratchett? Apparently so, since the omniscient authorial remarks about opera are in pretty much the same style.
Anyway, Pratchett is clearly having some fun with opera and it is unfortunate that the reader is not likely to have quite the same level of fun, to say the least.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Music of the Night... on Discworld, May 3 2001
By 
Brian K. Eason (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
If you are a Pratchett fan then I am wasting my time telling you what a genius Terry is... if you're not yet a Pratchett fan, you need to find your introduction book to the master of Fantasy Satire.
If you are a fan of Phantom of the Opera, this is your book. Pratchett celebrates and lampoons the world of theatre, all the while weaving a cunning mystery story liberally salted with humor and a ton of smiles...
A must have for any fan of the Wyrd Sisters.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I want to actually give it 3 and a half, OK?, April 20 2001
This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
The first time I read this I confess I wasn't that gripped. Agnes seemed flat, the plot seemed difficult and the jokes forced. BUT the second time I read it it had for some reason improved. The descriptions of the theatre are eerie and ring very true, the jokes seemed more natural - although I still don't get the plot properly and Agnes still seems a rather forced character. Also, I think I missed out on a lot of the humour because I haven't seen Phantom Of The Opera. Worth a read, but not the best Pratchett book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We Wear the Mask That Grins and Lies, March 2 2001
By 
Amanda M. Hayes (Indianapolis, IN) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
Being a big fan of humorous fantasy, I've been in love with Terry Pratchett's Discworld almost from the moment I began reading it. I adore Nanny Ogg and Greebo, Granny Weatherwax (to a lesser extent), Rincewind, the Bursar, the Librarian, and Death above all. So it's really not much surprise that I loved this book.
I think, though, that not only does it stand out among comedic fantasy books as all Discworld novels do, but it also stands out among Discworld novels! For all that I don't know opera or Phantom, the jokes I did understand had me rolling, and the idea of Nanny Ogg writing a cookbook is so priceless that it would have earned the book four stars all on its own. Toss in the translation of an opera verse and the little notes of maniacal laughter, and you've got enough funny stuff to leave a person gasping for breath between snickers.
However, it's a valid point to say that this is a story that's probably much funnier if you have some passing knowledge of opera and Phantom; I had the feeling that I was missing out on chunks of it, and really, the plot with Agnes wasn't very riveting. I thought the jokes I did understand more than made up for it, but that's a question of personal taste. This is still one of the Discworld novels that requires the most background knowledge to make most of its hits; it seems full of in jokes, and if you're bugged by that sort of thing, you might want to try a different slice of the Discworld pie instead.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A tragi-comedy worthy of good libretto, March 1 2001
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
Pratchett has an outstanding capacity to research a topic, then present his findings with peerless clarity and wit. This book presents so many aspects of theatre production, operatic lore and, amazingly, book publication they're nearly overwhelming. His prose and humour leave us breathless with mirth and astonishment. Still, one has to wonder what motivated the writing of Maskarade. It's a departure from previous Discworld efforts.
Magrat Garlick's married and out of the coven. This imbalance must be restored. Her potential replacement is a new Pratchett character, Agnes Nitt. Agnes, however, has a different career in mind. She wants to be a diva in the opera troupe in Ankh-Morpork. A lofty ambition, indeed. And a voice lofty enough to project throughout the hall - right up to the loft, in fact.
As always, the opera business is fraught with problems. Underpaid [and underfed] choir girls, prima donnas who consider their voice grander than its quality justifies, eccentric crew, and the ever present issue of money. Oh yes, and there's a ghost - with a reserved box seat.
If the Ankh-Morpork's opera team wasn't having enough to deal with, they are about to be confronted with the remnants of Lancre's witches' coven, Esme Weatherwax and Gytha Ogg. Nanny Ogg's become the Julia Childs of the Ramtops, but with variations on a particular theme. She's published a book about it, but Granny Weatherwax isn't convinced the payment justified. Esme Weatherwax as an author's agent is a formidable figure. As if this transformation wasn't enough, she also becomes a patron of opera.
Pratchett's gone slightly awry from his usual path with this book. He raises a host of pretty serious questions with the characters and the plot. It's still in the best of PTerry's style - his wit through the persona of Granny and Nanny Ogg has, if anything, improved. But there are some issues uncommon in Discworld books, and the reader is left more than just entertained. There's some post-laughter thinking required of the reader. Opera is, after all, serious business.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The weakest Pratchett so far, Feb. 10 2001
By 
"the_halberdier" (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Maskerade (Mass Market Paperback)
I have to confess that, although I love Pratchett's books and the Discworld generally, I found this the weakest book of the series. Maybe it's because I'm not an opera buff, maybe because the story is not a quintessentially Discworld one (apart from the names and histories of the main characters, the story could take place almost anywhere), maybe because I prefer the Guards to the Witches, or maybe it's just my taste but I just didn't find this as funny or enthralling as his previous books.
Pratchett certainly picked up again later and his most recent books are brilliant, but I found the series ebbed a bit here. If, like me, you're reading them all in order (I have, since "Colour of Magic" first came out), then stick with them. If not, make sure you have "Pyramids", "Small Gods", "Guards Guards", "Mort" or "Wyrd Sisters" around to read after this one.
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