Pratchett, Terry: (18-20) Maskerade, Feet of Clay, Hogfather (re-read)

Blowing through writing up a few more Discworld re-reads before turning to other tasks. Speaking of skippable books, as I just was with regard to Soul Music, I allowed myself to skip Interesting Times on the re-read because, seriously, a whole book of “what this empire needs is a honky”? No thank you.

So next up is Maskerade, which despite being another parody story, this time of Phantom of the Opera, feels much more accessible to me than Soul Music. It could just be that I like the witches better, of course. From a gender perspective (I’m speeding up the re-read now because I’m tentatively slated to moderate a WisCon panel on Discworld & gender), this book is interesting because it is much more scathing about society’s conventions when it comes to attractiveness than at least one later book (Unseen Academicals, which is oddly noncritical about the nascent fashion industry, as I recall). Though I’m not sure the series overall doesn’t somewhat fall prey to what it criticizes; see Becca’s spoilery post for what I mean.

Then there’s Feet of Clay, which I do like for its riffs on the mystery genre (though I don’t understand how the political stuff doesn’t founder on, or even care about, the fact that out-of-wedlock children do not normally inherit titles . . . ). For future-panel purposes, this is the start of the book’s examination of gender and Tolkien-esque dwarves (whose sexes are visually indistinguishable), which gets problematic later but which works well here.

Last for this entry is Hogfather, which is very hard to read when it’s spring. Otherwise the only additional thing I have to say about it is something that never occurred to me to wonder: who is ruling Sto Helit? Susan was 16 when we first met her, so obviously she’s not old enough; possibly that might be true even here, where she’s a governess, but still she’s acknowledged to be Duchess of Sto Helit, something that will drop out completely by the time she’s teaching in Thief of Time, when surely she must be of age. (In the book before that, someone refers to a Duke of Sto Helit, but that might just be an error.)

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