Sometimes when I’m sad I like to imagine what would happen in a crossover universe between Discworld and Harry Potter, and what Granny Weatherwax would make of their style of magic.
But then I think about more important things, like what would have happened if Granny Weatherwax ever met Albus Dumbledore, and I can’t help but feel a whole lot of shit could have been avoided if he’d had a good clip round the ear and a strong talking to about the whole “my hands are tied” bullshit that enabled years of abuse and suffering at the hands of adults in a position of authority over young, vulnerable people.
Like oh, this spell requires the bond of blood to keep him safe, all right. So that just means we’re not going to hold these adults accountable for their torment and abuse? I think the entire fuck not, Albus.
Snape is a double agent who is actually working for the greater good. All right, but that doesn’t stop him from being an absolute fucking shit weasel who shouldn’t be around children until he learns to control himself and works out his issues in a safe and sane manner, what the fuck, Albus.
You have an entire school system that ascribes to ideas of inherent morality when in fact this is a thing that needs to be taught? Well no wonder there’s one house in particular that keeps going off the rails, you keep telling them they’re evil. Tell people something for long enough they’ll start to believe you. There’s nothing wrong with being selfish and cunning, sometimes that’s what it takes to survive. Teach them how to use those traits for good. As strength. My land, my home, my people (not my daughter, you bitch) how dare you try to hurt them. Teach them, Albus, you have to bloody teach them and realize that evil isn’t born. It’s made. In a thousand small deplorable ways. And it starts with treating people like things and I cannot be having with this.
Of course there’s also the other flipside to this thought process, which is imagining Gytha “Nanny” Ogg shouting “watcher Molly” as she thumps Bellatrix Lestrange on the back of the head with a cauldron, and drops her like a fucking stone. Later they’ll sit together and grieve, later there will be time to pick up the pieces and mourn. But for now there are things to fight for, people to keep alive. And people to keep from doing what they shouldn’t ever have to do, so you find a way to do it for them, by hook, crook or blunt force trauma.
And because my head wont let go of this thought:
“You always was a right little miss,” she said, taking a puff from her pipe and resettling her weight with a hefty bounce as the younger witch struggled to get out from under Nanny’s considerable girth. “Giving yourself airs and graces and such. Pretending you was too good to scrub a pot. Well, let me tell you something, Mistress Lestrange, you ain’t fit for nothing no more except maybe a noose. And if I had my way that might be the end of it. But we don’t do things like that no more, we don’t rule by blood.”
“Then you’re weak,” Lestrange shot back, still struggling to claw her way free. “A weak, old woman with nothing left but tricks up your fat sleeve.”
Nanny puffed in silence for a few more moments, then reached up her sleeve. “And your wand, dearie. Walnut is it? With a dragon heartstring core? Very nice, painting it black was a bit much, but you always were fond of your dramatics.”
She pulled out her own wand, holding it out under Bellatrix’s nose, whose face went cross eyed and then wide with panic.
“You know, I’ve only ever heard of Priori Incantatem,” she said, puffing on the end of her pipe until the pit glowed cherry red then white hot and she exhaled smoke like a dragon, “but I wasn’t about to risk it, not in front of all those kiddies. But I reckon now might be a good time…”
History was full of the bones of good men who’d followed bad orders in the hope that they could soften the blow. Oh, yes, there were worse things they could do, but most of them began right where they started following bad orders.
I’ve been on a Discworld re-read for about a year now, and it just struck me how Pterry gets progressively angrier and less subtle about it throughout the series.
Like, we start out nice and easy with Rincewind who’s on some wacky adventures and ha ha ha oh golly that Twoflower sure is silly and the Luggage is epic, where can I get one. Meanwhile Rincewind just wants to live out his boring days as a boring Librarian but is dragged along against his will by an annoying little tourist guy and honestly? Fuck this.
We get the first view of Sam Vimes, and he’s just a drunken beaten down sod who wants to spend his last days as a copper in some dive but oh fuck now he has to fight a dragon and honestly? Fuck this.
The first time we see Granny Weatherwax, she’s just a cranky old woman who has never set foot outside her village but oh fuck now she has to guide this weird girl who should be a witch but is apparently a wizard all the way down to Ankh Morpork and honestly? Fuck this.
Like, these books deal with grumpy, cranky people. But mostly, the early books are a lot of fun. Sure, they have messages about good and evil and the weirdness of the world, and they’re good messages too, but mostly they are just wacky romps through a world that’s just different enough that we can have a good laugh about it without taking things too much to heart.
But then you get to Small Gods, in which organized religion is eviscerated so thorouhgly that if it was human, even the Quisition would say it’s gone a bit too far while at the same time not condemning people having faith which is kind of an important distinction.
You get to Men at Arms and I encourage everybody with an opinion on the Second Amendment to read that one.
You get to Jingo, Monstrous Regiment, Going Postal (featuring an evil CEO who is squeezing his own company dry to get to every last penny, not caring one lick about his product or his workers or his customers or anything else and who, coincidentally, works out of Tump Tower. I’m not making this up).
And just when you think, whew, this is getting a bit much but hey, look, he wrote YA as well! And it’s about this cute little girl who wants to be a witch and has help from a lot of rowdy blue little men, this will be fun! A bit of a break from all the anger!
The Tiffany Aching books are the angriest of all. But you know what the great thing is?
The great thing is that Pterry’s anger is the kind of fury that makes you want to get up and do something about it. It upsets you, sure. But it also says It’s up to you to change all of this. And you can change all of this, and even if you can’t. Do it anyway. Because magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.
It’s the kind of anger that gives you purpose, and it gives you hope. And that concludes my essay about why the Discworld series is so gloriously cathartic to read when it seems like all the world is going to shit.
So go. Read them, get angry and then get up and fight. Fight for truth. Justice. Freedom. Reasonably priced love and, most importantly, a hard-boiled egg.