Friday Faceoff – Toil and Trouble…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week we are looking at covers celebrating Halloween and I have chosen Equal Rites by the wonderful Terry Pratchett.



This is the cover that I own – published by Corgi 1989, I think it is the best cover by a long country mile. Yep. I’m aware I probably come across as a bit of a fossil here, ranting about, ‘Back in my day…’ but in this case I’ll stand by it. This cover brims with mapcap energy and fun – just like the book. Love it, love it, love it…



This offering is, produced by Harper Torch in 2000, is obviously aimed at women with the natty female gamete symbol zipping across a tasteful mauve cover with an equally tasteful colour-matched hat. Really? Equal Rites is a GIRLY read? It’s for EVERYONE people! It ridicules sexism by poking fun at it – surely men need to get that message, too?



Harper Perennial in 2005 are still ALL about gender-specific covers. The F-word even appears in the strapline *sigh*. Course THAT’S going to encourage all the blokes to read it, isn’t it? Again we have the tasteful mauve cover – this time with a witch wearing a tablecloth and an awkwardly positioned hand holding a globe/world/who cares covering her face. Another ghastly, lack-lustre effort that doesn’t begin to hint at the quirky, off-beat humour and general craziness Pratchett has to offer.



And now we lurch from politically correct to stygian gloom… You’d think this was a horror or dry literary offering, wouldn’t you? WHY the anvil?? I’ve reread this book twice and I cannot recall a hammer featuring. The wizard’s staff – yes! Hilarity and daft footnotes – yes! Gloomy anvils – not so much… For shame, Transworld Digital – this is plain DREARY.



At least Gollancz in 2014 has managed to move away from insisting this book is exclusively for women – or attempting to market a madcap comedy to horror or literary fans. Again with the mauve – a colour I’m learning to HATE, by the way – they are at least flagging the fact it’s funny. But the figures are crude and simplistic, something that Pratchett patently isn’t and once more the book is woefully betrayed by a sub-standard cover that doesn’t begin to hint at the riotous fun within.

Happy Halloween, by the way…

23 responses »

  1. I like the first one the best because it’s so colorful and interesting but I don’t know what the book is about so since the others seem so different maybe the first one didn’t represent the theme so well.

    • No! That’s why I’m ranting… The first cover PERFECTLY reflects the tone and appeal of Pratchett’s funny, chaotic world – it’s the other dreary offerings that don’t come close to denoting his genius and mapcap style. Erm. Sorry – didn’t mean to shout, but I’m really upset and angry at how this canon of work has been so short-changed…

      • I hadn’t read your write up because I like to come up with my own conclusions just based on the cover. I’m sorry about them sterilizing it. What’s up with that? It’s like trying to make it look like all the others rather than its own unique work. I’m glad you’re passionate!

      • -sigh- I do need to calm down, but I do feel angry about this. It’s as if no one thinks they need to bother because putting Terry Pratchett’s name on the cover will set it, anyway. How lazy and short-sighted!

  2. I am completely and totally with you on that first cover. It is beautiful, brilliant, brimming with life–it embodies its story. The others—UGH, talk about pandering. That anvil one made me think it’s catering to the male adults. I can’t fathom who else would be drawn to such a design.

    • I think they’re all a disgrace, frankly. The fact that one of our funniest and perceptive writers of the last century has such sub-standard rubbish enclosing his work is beyond my comprehension… How are subsequent generations of readers going to be drawn to read his work?

      • Oh no kidding. I want to see the marketing data that proves that bloody shade of lavender or whatever sells books. and why be so in-your-face about feminism? Are special interest groups really THAT obnoxious about book covers??

  3. Totally agree with your choice, the classic colourful Pratchett covers are the best.😀

    I do like the stygian gloom cover though, it’s nice and simplistic and I like my gloomy stuff.😂 but……..if you removed the Terry Pratchett name from the cover you wouldn’t guess it was a Pratchett book.🤔

    • Yes, I agree – there’s nothing wrong with stygian gloom and it’s a cool look but NOT for a Pratchett novel. I’m appalled at the sheer poor quality of the subsequent covers, having all the original books, mostly the hardcover edition, I’ve been rather oblivious to the subsequent lash-ups that have blighted his marvellous books! Not that I’m feeling hot and bothered about this subject. At all…

      • I think you have a very fair point to be hot and bothered, the gloomy cover is fine but not for Pratchett as mentioned, I’m actually a bit confusing though why someone decided to do a set of Pratchett covers like that when they have nothing in common with the books. But those two middle mauve ones out of your picks really are hideous!😂

  4. I’m with you, Sarah. That first cover is stunning and a great fit for the story. The others seem flat and don’t arouse any curiosity.

      • This would be an excellent starting point, as it begins with the witches storyline, who are some of my favourite characters anyway… All the stories are standalones, but as with all series, some of the enjoyment is heightened when you know the backstory of some of the characters.

  5. I actually own this one, I think I might have even read it. I have the first cover. I read the first 3 books in this series, I liked the first two well enough to finish them, but didn’t care as much for the third book and I think I even DNF’d it? Not sure. Pratchet isn’t totally my kind of author. My sister really enjoyed the books and has read many more of the Discworld novels.
    While I also like the other covers, I associate the first one with Pratchet his style. That black cover totally gives the wrong impression of the book, it make sit look like a literary book or thriller indeed. I think the last one is the best after the first cover as at least it seems to have the right tone for the book.

    • Yes, I’d agree with you that at least the last cover gives a sense that this is a humorous book. I’m aware that he isn’t to everyone’s taste – the later books are less madcap and funny, but more sharply satirical.

    • And to you Leona:). It was a marvellous, marvellous evening and it was a delight meeting you and being able to talk about books and life. Hope we can do it again! As for Terry Pratchett – I’m probably biased but I love his writing. Hugsxx

  6. I agree with you that the first one is the best (but, of course, I’m biased because this was also the cover of the Polish edition). It not only conveyed the “fantasy” part, but also Sir Terry’s sarcastic humor. All the other covers suggest a deadly serious read which I don’t think does justice to the book. (The last one seems to be going back in the right direction though.)
    One of my favorite books in the series. 🙂

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