Wyrd Sisters is Terry Pratchett's sixth Discworld novel, published in 1988, and re-introduces Granny Weatherwax of Equal Rites.
Characters: Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, Verence the Fool
Motifs: Shakespeare, especially Macbeth and Hamlet
Publication details Year of release: 1988 Original publisher: Victor Gollancz
Other details Awards: Notes: Came 135th in the Big Read. One of two books made into an animated film. Adapted as a play by Stephen Briggs.
Plot summary Wyrd Sisters features three witches: Granny Weatherwax; Nanny Ogg, matriarch of a large tribe of Oggs, who owns the most evil cat in the world, (Greebo); and Magrat Garlick, the junior witch, who firmly believes in occult jewellery, covens and bubbling cauldrons, much to the annoyance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg.
King Verence I of Lancre is murdered by his cousin, Duke Felmet, and the King's crown and a baby are given by an escaping servant to the three witches. The witches hand the crown and the child to a troupe of traveling actors, acknowledging that destiny will eventually take its course and Tomjon will grow up to defeat Duke Felmet.
However, the kingdom is angry and doesn't want to wait 15 years so the witches move it forward in time. Meanwhile, the duke has decided to get a play written and performed that is favourable to him so he sends the jester to Ankh-Morpork to recruit the same travelling (now stationary) company that Tomjon is in.
The only problem is that Tomjon does not want to be king. Luckily, the jester turns out to be his brother and he becomes king instead.
Ideas and Themes The plot of Wyrd Sisters is largely an homage to William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth. The book's first line of dialogue is the first line of the play, in similar circumstances ("When shall we three meet again?", spoken by one of three witches on a stormy night). Further references include Duke Felmet's desperate attempts to wash the blood from his hand.
The book also contains references and allusions to Shakespeare's other works, and to Shakespeare's own life. Olwyn Vitoller's acting company builds a theater they name "The Dysk" (after the Globe Theatre), and the company's plays include lines that allude to or are outright borrowed from Shakespeare's works.
The overall theme of Wyrd Sisters concerns the effect words can have on reality. This idea is explicitly stated by the Fool, who says that "the past is what people remember, and memories are words. Who knows how a king behaved a thousand years ago? There is only recollection, and stories." Duke and Lady Felmet then commission a play to serve as propaganda, portraying the witches of Lancre and the former king as evil, and the duke as virtuous.
Continuity The sequel to Equal Rites.
Adaptations For more details on this topic, see Wyrd Sisters (TV series). There has been an animated version and a 4-part BBC Radio 4 dramatisation, as well as a play adaptation by Stephen Briggs.