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~Maskerade~

by Terry Pratchett

      Heroine:  plump/abundant 

       Agnes Nitt, remade as Perdita X, has left the tiny village of Lancre behind in favor of the bright city lights of Ankh-Morpork.  No way will she wind up like her mother baking perfect apple pies while small children cling to her skirts.  No way will she get sucked into the local witches' coven just because it's her destiny.  No, it's the stage for Agnes, who is bound and determined to sing the socks off of the auditions board at the Ankh-Morpork Opera House.

        Unfortunately for Agnes, this is the century of the Fruitbat and looks far outweigh musical talent when selecting the newest operatic diva.  It's bad enough to be passed over as a lead because of her size, but to have to be the voice behind an unmusical yet beautiful slip-of-a-girl is the outside of enough!  Add to this the fact that the Opera House seems to be haunted by an odd specter who on the one hand wants to train Agnes to sing even better than she does now, but who also goes 'round killing various members of the cast and crew for no apparent reason. And to top it all off, those gruff but lovable Lancre witches have come to town to try and lure Agnes back home.

        Whatever is a witch-diva to do?!

      What worked for me:

      I love silliness, especially well-crafted silliness!  This is why my home is filled with books by Piers Anthony, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Terrys Pratchett and Brooks.  And also why I can recite several Monty Python skits verbatim.

      Size-wise Agnes/Perdita is clearly abundant, as is one of the secondary male characters.  However, this book is frustrating in that it is filled with mixed messages where size is concerned.  On the one hand we frequently hear about how long it takes for some portions of Agnes to arrive at any given destination, and also about her "great hair and nice personality".  And yet there are several instances where you suspect the author is subtly making fun of this type of thinking.

What didn't work for me:    

         I picked this book up years (we're talking a decade or more, here) after my last encounter with a Discworld novel.  Not that I am saying that "Maskerade" can't stand on its own, but I think it would have helped if I had refreshed my memory on the series first.  If you don't feel like reading all 18 of the books preceding "Maskerade", you can get a brief overview of the series here.

Overall:

         I really enjoyed this wacky story for the most part, and the only thing that brought it down for me was the overuse of stereotypes.  (Not just with the large people, either.  The slender, slinky gal in this book was an absolute bubblehead cliché!)

        Warning:  I caution you, if you aren't in the mood to wade through fat jokes and deal with a bit of weight-loss, if absurd humor is not for you, or if "The Phantom of the Opera" parodies are nothing short of blasphemy in your eyes then you might want to give this book a pass.  But if you adore bizarre humor and want to try and puzzle out the author's feelings toward fat, you might actually find this light reading material to be rather thought-provoking.

        If you liked "Maskerade" and could over look its faults size-wise, you might also enjoy "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency" and "Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul"

Have you read this book and have a comment to make on it? Join a discussion about the book at the Dangerous Curves forum or submit a review to this website

 

Good-bye, Mom.

I love you and will miss you forever.

 

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