Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Familiar Characters

I'm a little disappointed because I've now read all of Terry Pratchett's novels featuring Granny Weatherwax. Oddly enough, I read last the first book in which she appears: Equal Rites. Although her character is somewhat better developed in later novels, this one's plot is very fun, especially watching Granny go up against the snobbish, sexist wizards at Unseen University when they refuse to admit Granny's young apprentice, Eskarina. I'm always sorry when I complete a series I've enjoyed and there aren't any additional stories with these characters (at least as far as I know), but I'd happily reread any of these, especially Wyrd Sisters.

In other news, Ickie has begun reading a Winnie the Pooh story to Ben and I each evening. We gave Ben a Winnie the Pooh treasury for Christmas, and I had forgotten how darling and quietly amusing A.A. Milne's little characters are. Of course, my favorite bits are the illustrations by Ernest Shepard. I adore his sketchy pen and ink drawings in Kenneth Graham's novels and refuse to read any editions with "updated" (i.e., ruined) pictures of Toad, Rat, Mole, and the lot.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Legendary Troublemakers

I just finished Witches Abroad, another fun Terry Pratchett novel featuring Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick. This one played on several fairy tales (including a brief cameo by Gollum). It was creative and fun, although I slightly prefer the witch stories that are versions of Shakespearean plays. I'm currently reading Equal Rites, Pratchett's first book in which Granny appears. She's a really wonderful curmudgeon.

Prior to Witches Abroad, I read Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips. In it, the Greek gods are living in somewhat reduced circumstances in London and, as the title aptly puts it, behaving very badly indeed. Actually, Artemis is the only really reasonable member of the quarrelsome family. All the gods (except Artemis, goddess of chastity, and Eros, who has converted to Christianity) are sleeping with each other or causing trouble, so several chapters are fairly vulgar. By contrast, Alice and Neil are two mortals interested in Scrabble, tidiness, and each other, but who are too timid, wholesome, and polite to make it work. Alice and Neil are especially likeable when contrasted with the likes of the Apollo and Aprodite. The plot stays true to the classic formula, the gods playing tricks and getting even with each other, and of course a hero with a quest and a bit of immortal assistance. It was a well-formed story and a fun read.