Pratchett (Small Gods) has won an ardent following with his tales of Discworld and his particular brand of comedic fantasy. This latest installment, however, is unlikely to widen his readership. It's circle time on the Discworld; portentous round depressions are showing up everywhere, even in bowls of porridge. Worlds are weaving closer to one another, with unpredictable results. Only the three wacky witches, formidable Granny Weatherwax, crusty Nanny Ogg and scatterbrained Magrat Garlick, can ensure that the worst does not happen: the return of the elves. Trouble is, almost everyone else in the kingdom of Lancre is eager to welcome the ``lords and ladies'' back. They've forgotten that elves are nasty creatures who live only to torture their prey--humans especially. It's a tempting premise, but underdeveloped by Pratchett, who relies too heavily on his trademark humor, veering into the silly and sophomoric, to fuel the early portions of this fantasy. Only in the last third of the novel does he strike a successful balance among action, imagination and comedy. There is much fun to the tale once the smiling, sadistic elves actually appear, befuddling the townfolk with their beauty and illusion. An earlier arrival would have done much to strengthen this uneven novel. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2000 Release date: 01/01/2000 Genre: Fiction
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