One of my favourite things about Discworld women is the variety of approaches to sex/romance they represent and the general idea that all of them are okay.
There are of course your typical (only better) monogamous het romances like with Sybil, Adora, Magrat, Angua etc.
But there are also, let’s say, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. The former is definitely aro/ace (Susan Sto Helit is arguably too) while the latter just enjoys sex. And it’s okay, they both are. Flashback with young Esme and Ridcully is kinda very cute, but Esme decided against marriage and we are given to understand she is happy with her life (as far as Esme can be happy). There’s no reason to feel pity for her or some shit like that. And there are lots of jokes about Nanny Ogg’s sex life, but none of them comes across as slut-shaming, no one really judges her or thinks she is somehow worth less as a person because she had active and non-monogamous sex life.
And then there are these not quite romances like with Tiffany and Roland or Susan and Imp, which are far more realistic than the notion of finding your true love in the first person that happens to catch your attention, and it’s okay too: you may fancy someone, you can spend some time together, but sometimes that’s all.
In the world mostly dominated by the narrative of “they’ve met, fell in love and lived happily ever after” and women being reduced to their love lives all of this is so refreshing and important.
She really did not want to talk about this. No one in the villages around here wanted to talk about it. No one went near the ruins of the cottage in the woods, either.
“You don’t think so?”
“Um…” Tiffany squirmed. “You see…the Baron had a son called Roland. He was only twelve, I think. And he went riding in the woods by himself last summer and his dogs came back without him.”
“Mrs. Snapperly lived in those woods?” said Miss Tick.
“And people think she killed him?” said Miss Tick. She sighed. “They probably think she cooked him in the oven, or something.”
“They never actually said,” said Tiffany. “But I think it was something like that, yes.”
“And did his horse turn up?” said Miss Tick.
“No,” said Tiffany. “And that was strange, because if it’d turned up anywhere along the hills, the people would have noticed it….”
Miss Tick folded her hands, sniffed, and smiled a smile with no humor in it at all.
“Easily explained,” she said. “Mrs. Snapperly must have had a really big oven, eh?”
“No, it was really quite small,” said Tiffany. “Only ten inches deep.”
“I bet Mrs. Snapperly had no teeth and talked to herself, right?” said Miss Tick.
“Yes. And she had a cat. And a squint,” said Tiffany. And it all came out in a rush: “And so after he vanished, they went to her cottage and they looked in the oven and they dug up her garden and they threw stones at her old cat until it died and they turned her out of her cottage and piled up all her old books in the middle of the room and set fire to them and burned the place to the ground and everyone said she was an old witch.”
“They burned the books,” said Miss Tick in a flat voice.
“Because they said they had old writing in them,” said Tiffany. “And pictures of stars.”
“And when you went to look, did they?” said Miss Tick.
Tiffany suddenly felt cold. “How did you know?” she said.
“I’m good at listening. Well, did they?”
Tiffany sighed. “Yes, I went to the cottage next day, and some of the pages, you know, had kind of floated up in the heat? And I found a part of one, and it had all old lettering and gold and blue edging. And I buried her cat.”
“You buried the cat?”
“Yes! Someone had to!” said Tiffany hotly.
“And you measured the oven,” said Miss Tick. “I know you did, because you just told me what size it was.” And you measure soup plates, Miss Tick added to herself. What have I found here?
“Well, yes. I did. I mean…it was tiny! And if she could magic away a boy and a whole horse, why didn’t she magic away the men who came for her? It didn’t make any sense!”
Miss Tick waved her into silence. “And then what happened?”
“Then the Baron said no one was to have anything to do with her,” said Tiffany. “He said any witches found in the country would be tied up and thrown in the pond. Er, you could be in danger,” she added, uncertainly.
“I can untie knots with my teeth and I have a Gold Swimming Certificate from the Quirm College for Young Ladies,” said Miss Tick. “All that practice at jumping into the swimming pool with my clothes on was time well spent.” She leaned forward.
“Let me guess what happened to Mrs. Snapperly,” she said. “She lived from the summer until the snow, right? She stole food from barns, and probably women gave her food at the back door if the men weren’t around? I expect the bigger boys threw things at her if they saw her.”
“How do you know all this?” said Tiffany.
“It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination, believe me,” said Miss Tick. “And she wasn’t a witch, was she?”
“I think she was just a sick old lady who was no use to anyone and smelled a bit and looked odd because she had no teeth,” said Tiffany. “She just looked like a witch in a story. Anyone with half a mind could see that.”
Miss Tick sighed. “Yes. But sometimes it’s so hard to find half a mind when you need one.”
“Can’t you teach me what I need to know to be a witch?” said Tiffany.
“Tell me why you still want to be a witch, bearing in mind what happened to Mrs. Snapperly.”
“So that sort of thing doesn’t happen again,” said Tiffany.
She even buried the old witch’s cat, thought Miss Tick.
Hey. I heard that Discworld is good, but I don't know what it's about. That, and it's 40-something books and I'm not sure about starting another long series. Help?
Oh man you’d better make your peace with starting a long series because there is literally no way I’m going to not tell you to read Discworld, especially not today.
Okay, so Discworld is actually several series following several sets of characters and some standalone books about other characters, all taking place on the Discworld, which is an entirely flat, circular world sitting on the shoulders of four elephants who stand on the back of a gigantic space turtle. It’s a world a bit off the edge of the reality curve, and yet while Sir Pterry uses (used no no don’t cry it’s just the past tense DO NOT FUCKING CRY ABOUT THE PAST TENSE) uses it to tell fantastical stories, he also uses it to drop the realest shit on you (one of my favourites being “So many crimes are solved by happy accident–an overheard conversation, the wrong phone call, someone of the right nationality just happening to be within five miles of the scene of the crime without an alibi…). He has (had *sobs*) a huge love of wit and wordplay and his writing is jam packed with puns, jokes and twists.
Before I go off on a giant rant, I should mention that Mark Oshiro is doing a “Mark Reads Discworld” series and that if you’re unsure it might be worth popping onto Youtube and listening to him read a few.
There are several main character sets and if the series at large seems too intimidating it might be good to pick one and start with that.
The Watch: Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms, Feet Of Clay, Jingo, The Fifth Elephant, Night Watch, Thud!, Snuff
Books following the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, the equivalent of the police for the sprawling twin city of Ankh-Morpork, which is one of the central locations of the whole series. While the Discworld at large is fantasy, the Watch books dip into the Crime genre as Captain (later Commander) Sam Vimes and the other various members of the Watch solve crimes and face major social issues such as racism, sexism, cissexism (no really, one of the characters is a dwarf who decides to express herself as openly female even though traditional dwarfish society is one where everybody has a beard and twelve layers of chainmail and is referred to as “he”, and the way her “coming out” is treated by other dwarves and her feelings about it strike a lot of chords with coming out as transgender–or so I’ve been told, not being transgender myself but I can see the parallels), political subterfuge (Jingo was written during the first Gulf War and it’s still so horrifyingly relevant) and rich people thinking they’re above the law (Sam Vimes disagrees). Also Night Watch is a huge homage to Les Mis with morally-flipped Javert and Valjean and it’s amazing, but also equally amazing even if you’re not familiar with Les Mis (which I wasn’t the first twenty times I read it). Along with werewolves, dwarves, trolls, vampires, zombies and Nobby Nobbs (who was disqualified from the human race for shoving), the series will introduce you to my ultimate Life Goal, Lady Sybil Ramkin, a mightily-built woman who breeds pet dragons and is kinda the living embodiment of “do no harm, take no shit”.
The Witches: Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, Carpe Jugulum
If you like fairy tales and folklore and the power of stories, these are the books for you. Following the Ramtop Witches–predominantly the fierce and powerful old witch Granny Weatherwax; her best friend and cheerful matriarch of a minor army of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Nanny Ogg; Magrat Garlick, the somewhat soppy, pathetic and dreaming young(ish) witch (I identify with Magrat like WHOA so when she gets her moments of power–and she gets at least one per book and when she does DAYUM–it’s so, so wonderful); and the fat, powerfully-voiced junior witch Agnes Nitt. They fight mad dukes (Wyrd Sisters has a plot that’s some kind of amazing hybrid between Hamlet and Macbeth), fairy queens, fairy godmothers, and any force of story that tries to force people into what they should be instead of accepting what they are. As well as the power of stories, they also deal with some heavy moral themes (Carpe Jugulum has an amazing conversation between Granny Weatherwax and a somewhat lost priest about the nature of sin that has had a huge formative effect on me) and has a lot of basis in theatre (aside from all the Shakespeare, Maskerade takes place in an opera house in Ankh-Morpork).
Tiffany Aching–The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight
Kind of a subset of the Witches books, these books predominantly follow Tiffany Aching, who starts off nine in the first book and ages two years between each subsequent book. They’re YA (but I mean that in a good way I swear) and they were actually my gateway drug to the Discworld. Tiffany is a little girl from the farming country who has read the dictionary from cover to cover and thinks about things too much and in general is a perfect candidate to be a witch, even though when the books begin they’re outlawed where she lives after the Baron’s son disappeared and everyone decided that the strange old lady who lived alone in the forest was to blame. Tiffany isn’t quite buying that old story, though (and every time she talks about this poor old lady it’s fucking heartbreaking), and it’s good that she doesn’t because fairies are coming to her land, and if you think that’s a good thing you are about to learn very differently. However, she has some help in the form of MY VERY FAVOURITE SPECIES ON THE ENTIRE DISCWORLD: the Nac Mac Feegle, the thievin’, drinkin’, fightin’, six-inch-tall blue Pictsies who were thrown out of Fairyland for being Drunk and Disorderly. They’re FLIPPING HILARIOUS.
I’d say these books are kiiiiinda Discworld Lite? Except A Hat Full of Sky goes some kinda dark places and then I Shall Wear Midnight is DARK AS HELL LIKE WOW I WOULD LET KIDS READ THE FIRST THREE BOOKS BUT MOST DEFINITELY NOT THIS ONE. But they’re all hella good and I think they’re a good first choice of series to go with.
The Wizards–The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, FaustEric, Interesting Times, The Last Continent, The Last Hero, kinda Unseen Academicals
Predominantly following the chronic-failure-of-a-wizard Rincewind, the wizard books are mostly earlier books (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic being the first two Discworld books chronologically, though personally I wouldn’t recommend starting with them–I tried reading The Colour of Magic a few times and couldn’t get into it until I’d read The Wee Free Men and a bunch of others) and are the most about the nature of magic and cover the widest expanse of the Discworld, because Rincewind is extremely good at getting into massive trouble and then running away from it. Rincewind kinda moves out of centre stage in later books in favour of the rest of the colourful faculty of Unseen University in their misadventures. Your favourite character will be the Librarian. The Librarian is everybody’s favourite characters. He’s an orang-utan. There is a reason for this, but nobody cares. He’s an orang-utan and everybody loves him. Ook.
Death–Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, Thief of Time
These books are all about the Death of the Discworld–seven foot tall, skeletal, black robes, scythe, tends to show up under unfortunate circumstances–and his friends and family. Death is one of the best characters in Discworld but I feel too emotionally compromised to talk about him right now, so let me talk about his granddaughter Susan because she’s the deuteragonist of Soul Music, Hogfather and Thief of Time and she’s amazing. She’s partly human, partly… not, and she keeps trying to carve out a normal life and never quite managing it as she invariably gets drawn in when things are happening that are strange even by the Discworld’s standards (for example, Soul Music is about what happens when Rock Music gets invented, and Hogfather is about what happens when your Santa-equivalent winter figure goes missing and Death has to fill in for him). The stories deal strongly in themes of creativity, imagination and belief, especially Hogfather, and tend to be really, really beautiful. Death cameos in just about every book, but his character development arc across these books is one of the best in all of Discworld. AND HE ALWAYS TALKS LIKE THIS, IN ALL CAPS WITH NO QUOTATION MARKS. YOU ALWAYS KNOW WHEN HE’S SPEAKING TO YOU.
There are a bunch of other standalone books (there are three about Moist Von Lipwig but that’s not a series you want to get to until way later) and my absolute favourite that you should definitely read, if you read nothing else, is Monstrous Regiment. The premise is fairly basic: Polly cuts her hair and pretends to be a boy to join the army and find her brother in the backwards militaristic nation of Borogravia. If you know what the title’s from, it pretty much spoils the plot, but you may have seen it cross my dash enough times to get it anyway if you’re following me :P You want canon lesbians who don’t come to a horrible end? You want varying neurodivergent characters treated with love and respect? You want crossdressers and transgender characters and how to tell the difference? You want major discussion and consideration of gender issues and a Joan of Arc homage who doesn’t get burned? Read Monstrous Regiment. You also get a vampire hallucinating that they’re in the Vietnam War on a world where Vietnam doesn’t actually exist when they run out of coffee.
TL;DR (but please do read): Pick one of the series and read it. I’d highly recommend Tiffany Aching, but The Watch and The Witches are also good starts. The characters and locations and such do intertwine with each other sometimes, but the majority of the books are specifically written so that you can pick them up and enjoy them without having read any of the others.
And you will enjoy them. They’re sweet, they’re sad, they’re terrifying, they’re funny as hell, they’ll really make you think and you’ll be quoting them forever. Don’t be scared of how much is ahead of you: be grateful you have so much to experience for the first time. I guarantee you that once you’ve read them all, it won’t be enough. There could never be enough. But what there is is a gift.
- Tiffany Sampson (Knowledge, wants to be Criminal Mastermind, currently Smuggler)
As angelic as Sarah looks, it’s very misleading, but it’s probably not surprising - her mother’s a criminal and her father’s the lawyer who covers her back. It works quite well for Tiffany, balancing out that part of the reason she even got together with Aldric at university was as a look-alike to her lost crush Castor.
A short tease, because 1) it’s officially hiatus so I need to kick my ass back into writing and pretend I’m still relevant m, 2) only a tease because writing is hard, and 3) just a tease for now because writing in a notepad app is hard lol.
– post Kat’s wedding reception party, Densi obvs
“You are drunk, Agent,” Deeks teases, wrapping a strong, steadying arm around her waist as he guides her to the car.
She giggles, a loud, contagious sound filled with more bubbles than the champagne. “Tipsy,” she counters, silently grateful for his hard, steady body as she stumbles upon her sky-high heels. “Tipsy, Detective…”
A low growl emanates from deep in Deeks’ throat - God, what her calling him Detective does to him. “Princess, you passed tipsy somewhere between Mindy’s toast to the happy couple and Tiffany’s drunken rendition of “My Heart Will Go On.”
Kensi frowns - she can’t quite remember which Tiffany committed such an atrocity but she can recall that it was not pretty. “Butchering such a classic like that…”
“Simply criminal,” he remarks dryly, a smirk tugging at his lips as he thumbs the keyfob in his pocket, unlocking the doors so he can (hopefully) get his own criminal home without incident.
Kensi grins happily, her dress twirling around her as she giddily dances ahead of him, her only grip upon sanity the loose grasp she keeps upon his hand. “I’m sure she wouldn’t have resisted arrest,” she teases, a devilish gleam in her dark eyes.
God, he loves her like this. It’s not often he sees her like this, entirely free. It’s not so much the champagne, really; it’s an entirely different side of her that she’d only allowed him to see when she’d begun to fall in love with him; when he’d finally begun to crack through the walls surrounding her heart. He saunters toward her, grinning as she leans casually back along the side of the car. “Now, now, you know my cuffs are just for you…”
Tiffany… Youwere quite excited before coming to Phucket… We’ve been rommates for a long time since training days~ It may be because we’ve known each other for so long, you know how family members usually don’t say things like this, like, I like you… or can’t really express gratitude, and I feel like I’m like that especially with you. I grew up in Korea, you in the US, and the differences in opinions due to cultural differences came as hard at first but now, after trying to match up to each other, we really have no questions about each other. That’s how close we’ve gotten and I like how we are right now. I like you before when we were trainees, but I like you better now. Thanks for presenting me, and the all of us, with so much memories, and we have a long way to go together, so I’ll stop here… - From taeyeon