Book:Witches Abroad

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Witches Abroad
Cover art by Josh Kirby
Publisher Victor Gollancz
Publication date November 1991
ISBN 0552134651
Pages 288
Main characters Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, Lily Weatherwax
Series Witches Series
Annotations View
Notes Book #12
All data relates to the first UK edition.


It seemed an easy job ...

After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn't marry a prince?

But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, traveling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple ...

For one thing, all they've got is Mrs. Gogol's voodoo, a one-eyed cat and a second-hand magic wand that can only do pumpkins. And they're up against the malignant power of the Godmother herself, who has made Destiny an offer it can't refuse. And finally there's the sheer power of the Story. Servant girls have to marry the Prince. That's what life is all about.

You can't fight a Happy Ending.

At least – up until now ...


After the death of Desiderata Hollow, a witch and Fairy Godmother, Magrat Garlick inherits her wand. Magrat is not able to do much with it other than turn things into pumpkins. Desiderata had promised to a young woman in Genua called Emberella to protect her from being forced to marry the Duc, a frog prince. Magrat has thus inherited her status as Fairy Godmother and must protect Emberella from being forced to marry him, even though a witch called Lilith is trying to arrange this. She leaves for Genua with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Their journey takes some time and features several scenes that reference well-known fairytales.

In Genua, Magrat meats Emberella while the two other witches meet local voodoo witch Erzulie Gogol and her servant Baron Saturday (a zombie). Magrat realizes that Emberella has two fairy godmothers, her and Lilith. Lilith has turned Genua into a police state, forcing the citizens to be happy and live as though they are in a fairytale. Those who don't fill their roles properly are arrested, including a toymaker who is not jolly enough and an innkeeper who is too thin. She is revealed to be Lily Weatherwax, the sister of Granny, and she was also responsible for setting up many of the adventures during the witches' journey to Genua.

Granny convinces Magrat to attend the Masked Ball in place of Emberella, although the glass slippers do not fit her. The witches are caught and imprisoned, but Emberella, Gogol and Baron Saturday rescue them. The high concentration of Magic causes the Duc to turn back into a frog and he is squashed by Baron Saturday. As Lily flees, Gogol tries to stop her with a voodoo doll in an attempt to kill her, but Granny stops her. She then pursues her sister alone.

It is revealed that Baron Saturday was the former ruler of Genua and that Emberella is his daughter, so she becomes the new ruler. Her first act is to order an end to the Ball, as she decides she would prefer to go drinking at a Mardi Gras parade instead. Granny defeats Lily by trapping her in a mirror. With Genua now liberated, the witches now return home. Granny shows Margrat how to use the wand to do magic, but Magrat eventually decides to throw it away.


Main Characters

Minor Characters

Cameos and Mentions


Events and Timeframes

  • Fat Tuesday aka Mardi Gras aka Samedi Nuit Mort (literally, "Saturday Night Dead", parodying the TV show Saturday Night Live
  • Although the Roundworld Carnival and Mardi Gras occur in late winter, just before Lent, Genua's Carnival occurs in the fall; Terry appears to have calqued it upon the Haitian Night of the Dead (All Hallows' Eve), when Voudon worshippers beat drums in cemeteries to awaken the dancing Lord of the Dead Baron Samedi (Saturday) and his troupe of Gede revelers; the Duc's masked ball relates the night to the Halloween tradition.

Items and Concepts


  • Even though they're on a presumably "covert" mission, Nanny hands her letters to the nearest passer-by for delivery. Does this seem wise? And none of them arrived before she did.
  • 'In some foreign parts "bum" means "tramp" and "tramp" means "hobo"' - On Roundworld, this is true for American English. The full chain goes something like this: "American [kitty] = British fanny", "American fanny = British bum", "American bum = British tramp", "American tramp = uh, ... lady of easy virtue". Interestingly, we've never seen any part of DiscWorld that's similar to the USA. (Even though the riverboat ride down the Vieux River is irrestibly close to the high life of the antebellum Deep South, what with a floating pleasure palace for the gentry, and slaves, ie chained trolls, providing the motive power to turn the wheels of the boat. Could have been the Mississipi running down to the Delta and N'awlins, y'all...)
  • While travelling down a subterranean river, a creature climbs out of the water on a log, declaring to the witches that, "It's my birthday." This is a reference to the character Gollum from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings books, who acquired the One Ring on his birthday.
  • While walking down a road paved with yellow bricks, a small farm house lands on Nanny Ogg, the only one of the witches wearing red boots. Shortly afterward, a group of dwarves show up asking if they can have her boots. In The Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the East is crushed by Dorothy Gale's farmhouse and her sparkly red shoes are given to the witchicidal young woman.


First Edition Cover by Josh Kirby
Book Proof
'Letterbox' Hardback
Cover by Peter Scanlan
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
Paperback ROC Publishing
US Cover
Paperback 2012
Unseen Library Edition
Collectors Library Edition
Paperback 2022

External Links

Witches Abroad Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File

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