I was reminded today of the general excellence of Nanny Ogg and consœurs, Granny Weatherwax and Magrat Garlick. Ariane’s Pratchettian collection might just beat mine – I have more of Pterry’s books, but she has more figurines (I have zero). She has an especially nice figurine of Gytha Ogg (who is the Ramtops witch that I was born to cosplay) rather like this one at the right:
For those unfamiliar with the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett (aka Pterry), these two different covers for an animated version of Wyrd Sisters (the first book in which all three appear) give a fairly good idea of their three archetypal characters (although most of the fun in reading Pratchett is how he sets up his characters as archetypes initially and then explodes that with messy human complications).
Here’s just a very few of my favourite quotes from some of the Witches novels:
* Witches generally act as layers-out of the dead as well as midwives; there were plenty of people in Lancre for whom Nanny Ogg’s face had been the first and last thing they’d ever seen, which had probably made the bit in the middle seem quite uneventful by comparison.
* Nanny Ogg had a pragmatic attitude to the truth; she told it if it was convenient and she couldn’t be bothered to make up something more interesting.
* She was an incredibly comfortable person to be around, partly because she had a mind so broad it could accommodate three football fields and a bowling alley.
* Above the hearth was a huge pokerwork sign saying “Mother”. No tyrant in the whole history of the world had ever achieved a domination so complete.
* “‘Tis not right, a woman going into such places by herself.” Granny nodded. She thoroughly approved of such sentiments so long as there was, of course, no suggestion that they applied to her.
* Greebo could, in fact, commit sexual harrassment simply by sitting very quietly in the next room.
* No gods anywhere play chess. They prefer simple, vicious games, where you Do Not Achieve Transcendence but Go Straight to Oblivion; A key to the understanding of all religion is that a god’s idea of amusement is Snakes and Ladders with greased rungs.
* Demons were like genies or philosophy professors — if you didn’t word things exactly right, they delighted in giving you absolutely accurate and completely misleading answers.
* The duke had a mind that ticked like a clock and, like a clock, it regularly went cuckoo.
* “Well, basically there are two sorts of opera,’ said Nanny, who also had the true witch’s ability to be confidently expert on the basis of no experience whatsoever. ‘There’s your heavy opera, where basically people sing foreign and it goes like “Oh oh oh, I am dyin’, oh, I am dyin’, oh, oh, oh, that’s what I’m doin'”, and there’s your light opera, where they sing in foreign and it basically goes “Beer! Beer! Beer! Beer! I like to drink lots of beer!”, although sometimes they drink champagne instead. That’s basically all of opera, really.”
* Nanny Ogg found herself embarrassed to even think about this, and this was unusual because embarrassment normally came as naturally to Nanny as altruism comes to a cat
* “It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black-and-white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that-”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes-”
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
Some classic Josh Kirby cover art for the novel Witches Abroad:
And here is Nanny with her sweet little kitten Greebo (image from the Nanny Ogg Cookbook)
I love how many people are inspired by the Discworld generally and by the witches in particular to create some wonderful things. Here’s some Lego work:
Captain Smog has an ever-growing Flickr set of Lego Discworld constructions – check it out.
There are Discworld MUD Games – this is Granny Mi’s depiction of herself on her information page:
These wonderful witchy women inspire mass hoydening at fan conventions:
I love this page of casting suggestions for a hypothetical Discworld Witches movie, although many are clearly wrong-wrongitty-wrongo. Who would you have playing the witches?
P.S. For anyone wondering about Discworld reading order, there’s no one place to start, but many of the later books make more sense if you’ve read some earlier ones first. Here’s one suggested reading order:
L-space has some more accessible text versions too.
Categories: fun & hobbies