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Literature / Lords and Ladies

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Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.
Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.
Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.
Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.
Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.
Elves are terrific. They beget terror.
The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.
No one ever said elves are
Elves are bad.

Lords and Ladies is the 14th Discworld novel and the third or fourth in the 'witches' themenote . According to Terry Pratchett, this was the moment where the character of Granny Weatherwax finally reached her full supremacy.

Following on directly from Witches Abroad, the book concerns the invasion of The Fair Folk into the Discworld via rifts opened from their home 'parasite universe', which manifest as crop circles. The malevolent elves perceive magnetic force and are thus vulnerable to iron, especially magnetic Thunderbolt Iron, and the main portal between their country and Lancre is shielded by a ring of magnetic standing stones, the Dancers. However, they use mind control on a group of young impressionable witches and a group of theatrical players. This results in the Dancers being removed and a full-scale invasion commencing, coinciding with King Verence's wedding to Magrat. It's up to the three witches of Lancre to defeat the malevolent elves and save the day.

Preceded by Small Gods, followed by Men at Arms. Preceded in the Witches series by Witches Abroad, followed by Maskerade. Not to be confused with the Show Within a Show from the Max Payne series.

Contains examples of:

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    Tropes A-B 
  • Achilles' Heel: The elves (and related creatures like unicorns) are vulnerable to iron, especially magnetic Thunderbolt Iron. This is because they have a sixth sense that lets them 'see' in terms of magnetic force lines, and this is so emphatically their primary sense that removing it causes Glamour Failure, confusion and pain.
  • Action Survivor: The Lancre Morris Men fight their way down from the standing stones, through the town and to the castle, dispatching who knows how many elves along the way with their only weapon being the Stick and Bucket Dance.
  • Alien Blood: The elves have green blood, presumably based on copper rather than iron.
  • Alien Fair Folk: The elves are extra-dimensional beings, and include several aspects of UFO mythology, such as crop circles heralding their presence, and their un-glamoured appearance resembling the description of The Greys.
  • Alpha Bitch: 'Diamanda', who has the ego and pretentiousness to think that she knows better than all other Lancre witches because she read a few books and was stupid enough to fall for the Elf Queen's promises of power.
  • Alternate Universe: Ridcully "mishears" 'parallel universe' as 'parasite universe' when Ponder tries to explain it. The narration then notes that there are indeed such things as parasite universes, and the elves' country is one of them: little scraps of reality lacking a past or a future, trying to latch onto real timelines and suck them dry. (Which also explains the elves' immortality and Creative Sterility.)
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The Elves, since they're not Tolkien-style elves (or at least, not Third Age Tolkien style elves - they're pretty close to a few of Tolkien's darker examples) but fairytale-style elves. Divided into two camps: the more aggressive ones stayed with the Queen to continue their raiding, while the more patient blood-and-bone primal ones retreated to another fairy realm with the King to hang out in a drunken sweat lodge until this whole "civilization" trend has run its course and they can dominate a world where ironwork has been forgotten.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Greebo has the decency to look ashamed when Magrat compares elves to cats, presumably because Even Evil Has Standards.
  • Animal Motifs: Bees and wasps, with the occasional sideline about cats.
    Only one queen in the hive...
  • Bad "Bad Acting": In-Universe. While rehearsing for the Entertainment, Tinker complains that while he and the other actors are supposed to come across as bad actors in the Play Within a Play, they somehow manage to be bad at acting like people who are bad at acting.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention billygoats around trolls. Unfortunately for all, the Bursar is on the downswing of the frog pills at the time, and can't help himself. The Lancre Bridge troll guard gets very upset. And then he sees the Librarian, who equally objects to usage of the M-Word, knocking him into Lancre River, before trying to drop rocks on his head.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
  • Big Damn Heroes: Ponder and the Librarian when they take out sniper-elves in the trees that were outnumbering Magrat.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Nanny Ogg's observation at dinner with Casanunda is an example of this trope. "She peered at the label. 'Chateau Maison? Chat-eau... that's foreign for cat's water, you know, but that's only their way.'"
    • Later on, she regales Cassanunda with a stirring rendition of "Il Porcupino Nil Sodomy Est".
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: The elves detect magnetic fields as their primary sense.
  • Bond One-Liner: Magrat manages one after ambushing an elf with a chair and pushing into the hole of a garderobe: note 
    Not just high, but stinking.
  • Book Ends: At the beginning, the Queen of the Elves appears in the Dancers and attempts to tempt the young Esme Weatherwax with promises of power by dismissing her own studies (in particular speaking with trolls) as 'pebbles'. At the end, Ponder Stibbons studies the Dancers and quotes Isaac Newton about playing with pebbles while there is a vast ocean of truth waiting to be discovered—to which the Librarian retorts (via the narrative) that it is by studying the pebbles that you learn about the ocean.
  • Boring, but Practical: After Granny beats Diamanda at their witching duel, some of Diamanda's former followers come ask her to train them as witches. She tells them to try and knock her hat off as a test. All three try magically and fail...and then Nanny Ogg throws a stick at her hat, because Granny never said anything about knocking it off with magic. Of course, Granny catches the stick, but the point stands: a large part of witching is knowing when to be this trope.
  • Breast Plate: The fearsomely bosomy armor of the entirely fictional Queen Ynci was made in this mold. Unfortunately, Magrat doesn't quite have what it takes to fill it out.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Monkey's nut. Casanunda himself probably qualifies.
    • Unconsidered trifles. And the humorous cow.
    • The garderobe.
    • The Stick and Bucket Dance, once we work out what the stick is for.
    • Wizards' staffs do have knobs on the end! (note that in the UK, "knob" is a euphemism for... well, you get it.)
    • Shawn, pondering the odds against Magrat, muses that nobody really sings "wack-fo-la-diddle-di-do-sing-too-rah-li-ay" while setting out to defeat fey evil. Not long after, the Lancre Morris Men sing this exact phrase while fighting the elves, with the WACK as a literal attack command.
    • When Ridcully's head develops a crop circle and he starts furiously insisting that he can't be going bald as hair loss is practically nonexistent in his family, the Bursar — his mouth running away with him as usual — mentions that his grandfather swore by a mixture of honey and horse manure, and applied it daily. Much later, when Ridcully removes his hat to get a drink from the bottle of brandy he keeps inside the tip, Granny notices he's got something on his head that "smells like honey and horse apples".
  • Butt-Dialing Mordor: Diamanda thinks the Lancre way of witching is too old-fashioned for her and tries out parodically Wiccan spells instead. While this would normally be doomed to failure, the Queen of the Elves caught her mind and made her open the way for their invasion in exchange for power.

    Tropes C 
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": The dwarfs refer to magnetism as 'the love of iron'. (Justified, in that because the Disc is so full of magic, magnetism is not one of the primary forces.)
  • Call-Back: Ridcully asks Granny about Archchancellor Weatherwax. Turns out he was a distant cousin she never met.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: Because they Mind Rape you with their glamour, making you feel hopelessly inferior. Turns out, though, if you piss Magrat and Granny Weatherwax off enough, you can argue with elves. With extreme prejudice.
    • Granny Weatherwax doesn't even need to be pissed off to be immune to their Mind Rape. She's just that badass. It's later revealed that this used to be the defining characteristic, and original purpose, of witches.
  • The Casanova: Casanunda is the second best lover in the world. But he tries harder.
  • Cat-apult: A witch takes out an elf by stuffing a particularly ill-tempered cat into a box and having the victim open it, upon which the cat "went off like a claymore mine".
  • Cernunnos:
    • The elf king is a humanoid with stag antlers big enough to possibly hold the moon and "a great big tonker", who lives in a sauna in a parasite dimension with his fellows of The Wild Hunt, waiting until people forget about the ritual to protect against elves so he can return.
    • Parodied with Herne the Hunted, the god of small furry things that get pursued by hunters.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At the beginning of the book, Jason Ogg re-shoes Death's horse Binky and keeps the old horseshoes. Later we learn that iron hurts the elves but cannot cross the boundaries of the stones into their realm (presumably due to magnetism). But Nanny takes one of Binky's horseshoes and brings it with her to an elven realm to threaten the King of the Elves, because Death can go (almost) anywhere.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Similar to the above Chekhov's Gun, Jason Ogg can shoe any animal brought to him, the only price of this skill being that he has to shoe any animal brought to him. Once- for a joke- he's brought an ant to shoe.note  Granny Weatherwax uses this ability to have him shoe the unicorn with silver shoes and nails, permanently freeing it from the Elf Queen's control.
    • Granny's skill at borrowing becomes a key factor to stopping the elf queen by taking control of the local bees.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: Such a circle is preventing the elves from returning to the Discworld. The stones are made of naturally magnetic iron, which messes with the elves' vision because of their weakness to it.
  • City Mouse: Almost every wizard, to a man, even the ones actually from the countryside. Ridicully is an exception.
  • Consummate Liar: Casanunda's card proclaims him to be an Outrageous Liar. When the wizards ask if this is true, he replies "No".
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Invoked in an author's note before the main action starts, saying that while most Discworld novels are more or less standalone books, making sense of this one requires knowing a little bit of backstory. The author's note then, helpfully, recaps the pertinent events from Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad before moving on.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Covers Always Lie: The first American edition bizarrely managed to confuse Morris dancing with football in its synopsis.
  • Creative Sterility: The elves, as Granny demonstrates in her "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Granny: What don't die can't live. What can't live don't change.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: Thanks to a variety of factors, Castle Lancre has Shawn Ogg handling nearly all duties.
  • Crop Circles: A rash of these presages the elves' arrival. As usual for the series, they don't limit themselves to fields of grain, but crop up among cabbages, beans, cress grown on a flannel, a bowl of oatmeal, and even Archchancellor Ridcully's "crop" of hair.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Magrat shows this in about every book she appears in, but here she is the one who physically defeats the Elf Queen.
    • Ponder Stibbons doesn't do much by himself, but he does take arms and help against the elves.
    • The Lancre Morris men use the fact that elves are hopelessly fascinated by their dance to kill them without stopping dancing.

    Tropes D-F 
  • Dance Battler: The Stick and Bucket Dance? Yeah, there's a reason that "kill" is one of the commands. (It's especially effective as the dancing seems to have some kind of hypnotic effect on the elves; they're so into the performance that it stops them from really fighting back.)
  • Decoy Hiding Place: Magrat hides under the bed to make an elf think she hid in the garderobe.
  • Delicious Distraction: How Pewsey is tricked to interrupt the witch contest.
  • Destined Bystander: Agnes Nitt, who would go on to be one of the main characters in Maskerade and Carpe Jugulum, appears for the first time in this book in a minor role as one of Diamanda's followers, the only one with any real talent for witching.
  • Dreadful Musician: Taken to new levels with Nanny Ogg. As it turns out, when she sings during her annual bath, the already unnatural notes she hits are amplified by the washtub into a village-wide Brown Note. Even animals know to be afraid of it.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Although the elves are still fundamentally magical creatures, their aversion to iron is given a straightforward explanation: their primary sense is "seeing" lines of magnetic force (like some birds), and iron so badly screws with this sense that it's like going deaf and blind at the same time.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Elf Queen comes pretty close. From what Nanny Ogg says, the King is far closer. He even looks the part, because he's an Expy of the Horned God. Old God, but not the same as Elder God.
  • Ermine Cape Effect: Played around with both Verence and Magrat.
  • Evil Is Cool: An in-universe invocation. It isn't. But part of the elf glamour is that it warps people's brains so that they'll think it is. Essentially, it's summed up as mice going "say what you will about cats, but they've got style".
  • Evil Is Petty: Before going to confront Magrat, the Elf Queen makes herself look like an idealized version of the witch, the person Magrat wishes she was (and, as Granny speculates, as Verence always sees her). Granny takes note, as one professionally unpleasant person to another.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Ponder tries to explain this to Ridcully, who gets the wrong end of the stick as usual: if there's an alternate version of him who married Granny, how come he was never invited to the wedding? He later uses this version to justify a million-to-one chance of survival. 999,999 of him would die, but they were jerks anyway. "Serves 'em right for not inviting me to their weddings".
  • Eye Scream: At one point, an elf peeking through a keyhole gets a crossbow bolt to the eye.
  • The Fair Folk: "No-one ever said elves are nice..."
  • Fantastic Racism: Dwarfs and trolls have better memories of the elves than humans. Granny makes a point of making sure none of Lancre's dwarves or trolls know about the elf in the dungeon, because they'd tear through the castle to get to it.
  • Fantasy Aliens: The Fair Folk come from a parasite universe rather than outer space, but their physical descriptions are reminiscent of The Greys.
  • Feathered Fiend: Lady Jane and the other falcons are closer to this than to Noble Bird of Prey. There’s a reason Hodgesaargh has the “aargh”. (Though, to their credit, they also attack elves.)
  • Fish out of Water: Poor Ponder does not adapt well to being in the countryside.
  • Forever Fling: Played with, when it's revealed that Mustrum Ridcully and Esme Weatherwax had a fling in their youths when Ridcully was in the area on holiday. Esme makes a point of stepping on every attempt Ridcully makes to turn it into a romantic 'finally reunited' story, pointing out that it was a long time ago, they've both moved on, and the fact that she hasn't had a serious relationship with anybody else since is more to do with being married to her career than whatever her feelings might be for him personally.
  • Foreshadowing: Magrat's discussion about queen bees with Mr Brooks foreshadows her confrontation with the Elf Queen the night before her wedding.
    Mr Brooks: The old queen's more cunnin'. But the new queen, she's really got everything to fight for.
  • For the Evulz: Elves will steal anything in sight. What they can't steal or stab, they'll smash. Nanny Ogg notes they'd "smash the world if they thought it'd make a funny noise."
  • Freud Was Right: Nanny Ogg tells Casanunda "Magrat says a broomstick is one of them sexual metaphor things", though a footnote adds "This is a phallusy."
  • From Dress to Dressing: Magrat tears up her dress to tend to Shawn's wounds after he falls into the hands of the elves. It's a sign of how serious the situation is, and how she's stepped up her practicality to deal with it, that she does so without any fuss or hesitation, even though it's her wedding dress and explicitly the nicest dress she's ever owned.
  • From the Latin "Intro Ducere": Discussed. See the page quote.
  • Funny Background Event: Terry Pratchett manages to pull one off in print. As Verence and Magrat are talking, Verence suddenly starts shouting, more and more, until he tells Shawn Ogg to stop playing that bloody trumpet.

    Tropes G-J 
  • Gag Penis: The Elf King's lair is below the Long Man, two round and one long earth mound, along with an inscription that says "I Have A Great Big Tonker." It isn't exaggerating. (Possibly also the reason Nanny Ogg always "had a soft spot" for said Elf King.) It's not entirely a gag either; there's an allusion to the Cerne Abbas Giant, a Roundworld chalk figure in Dorset, UK.
  • The Generalissimo: Referenced in the narration.
    Some people are born to kingship. Some achieve kingship, or at least Arch-Generalissimo-Father-of-His-Countryship...
  • Genius Loci: The land of Lancre cries out in a way that only the witches can hear. Granny eventually demonstrates to the Queen that in addition to her own considerable strength, Lancre itself - "my own turf" - can channel its power through her.
  • Giving Them the Strip: The only way the dwarfs who'd first discovered the magnetic meteorites could get free was to wriggle out of their chain-mail trousers.
  • Glamour Failure: Literal, when Magrat defeats the Queen and sees her real self, not the image she projects - a rather small and pathetic figure of alien proportions.
  • Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: Shawn Ogg's attempt at a Rousing Speech doesn't go too well. It's heavily implied he butchered the St. Crispen's day speech, to a crowd who thinks glory and honor are something only suicidal idiots would want.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: When proper fighting finally breaks out, Jason Ogg lays into a group of Elves with the first thing that came to hand: another elf.
  • Groin Attack: Implied to have been suffered by a Mr. Thrum during a previous Stick and Bucket Dance.
  • Half-Witted Hillbilly: The Lancre Morris Men are quite offended at the way they're portrayed by big city playwrights:
    Weaver: Anyway, they all think we'm all simpletons up here. They all think we say oo-aah and sings daft folk songs and has three brain cells huddlin' together for warmth 'cos of drinking scumble all the time.
    Jason Ogg: Yeah. Pass that jug.
Much later in the conversation, after some attempt to get Carter to understand a Double Entendre, Baker comments "Them playwriters down in Ankh, boy, they certainly know about us."
  • The Hat Makes the Man: Magrat takes a level in badass after donning the armor of the warrior queen Ynci, and says afterward that it was like Ynci's spirit was guiding her.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Here codified.
    Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one, and there'll be another one along in a minute. Shoot him too? Why not shoot everyone and invade Poland?
  • Humanoid Abomination: What elves actually are, despite their glamour telling you otherwise.
  • If I Had a Nickel...: Ridcully says that if he had a penny for every time he'd been kicked out of the tavern in Lancre, he'd have $5.38.
  • Ignored Expert: Granny Weatherwax accurately predicts that Magrat will immediately ignore her warnings about the elves. Sure enough, the minute she hears Granny's warnings, Magrat ignores them, not once thinking that like all those other times, Granny might just know what the hell she's talking about. Bad Things proceed to happen.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The 'cool' new witches led by Lucy "Diamanda" Tockley. Only Diamanda and Agnes have any actual power. The rest are just wannabes.
  • I Never Got Any Letters - Parodied: Ridcully is angry at his alternate-universe versions because they haven't invited him to their weddings.
    • More seriously, Ridcully complains that Granny Weatherwax never answered his letters. She replies that she never got the letters (which, since this would have been when you "posted" a letter by handing it to a dwarf going in the right direction, doesn't necessarily imply a malicious interloper). Ridcully replies that he sent them to her magically, and it turns out she did get them, she just didn't see any point in replying since they'd made their choices.
  • I Regret Nothing: Granny tells Nanny Ogg that "Whatever happens. I ain't never regretted anything. Never regretted one single thing."
  • Ironic Name: The Carters' daughters, as is traditional, are all named after virtues (Hope, Patience, Chastity), but then Mr and Mrs Carter got a bit confused and named all the sons after vices (Bestiality, Covetousness, Anger). None of the children live up to their names.
  • It Came from the Fridge: It's noted that some "rogue cheeses in the cellar" put up enough of a fight that the elves weren't able to steal it when they raid the local fancy restaurant. They nicked everything else edible.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In a flashback, we get to see a young Esme Weatherwax for the first time. While she's specifically stated not to be beautiful, she's described as a striking Unkempt Beauty with long, wild white-blonde hair and piercing blue eyes.

    Tropes K-M 
  • Kick the Dog: Some bored elves amuse themselves for a time with an ant hill and a nest of baby rabbits.
  • King in the Mountain:
    • The king of the elves, waiting under the Long Man until the day people will welcome elves again.
    • You actually have to pass another sleeping king and his warriors to get that far. This one is waiting for some kind of nation's-hour-of-great-need that will be signalled by the ringing of a great bell. Nanny rings the bell for a lark, waking a warrior who complains that people keep doing that.
  • Lack of Empathy: Granny explicitly says that elves have no empathy (though she has problems with the word). "They're cruel for fun, and they can't understand things like mercy. They can't understand that anything apart from themselves might have feelings."
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre:
    Carpenter: (referring to his part in a play) I don't think much of my part, it's too small.
    Weaver: It's his poor wife I feel sorry for.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • "I'll say this just once. After tonight no one's ever to talk about the Stick and Bucket dance ever again. All right?"
    • Also the bandit leader Ridcully turns into a pumpkin. He tells his group, while still a pumpkin, to get him into some shade and never talk about this again.
  • Liar's Paradox: Casanunda warns that he is an Outrageous Liar. But Ridcully thought that was a lie.
  • Magic Feather: Queen Ynci's armor. Apparently, there never was a Queen Ynci - she was added to Lancre's history books by a bored ruler who felt his lineage needed an attention-getter - but Granny and Nanny decide not to tell that to Magrat even after all the fuss has died down.
  • Mama Bear: The vixen that sent Greebo fleeing in terror when he chased her into the den where her litter was hidden.
  • May–December Romance: Nanny and Casanunda, although since Dwarves age more slowly they disagree on which is which.
  • Meaningful Echo: I ATE'NT DEAD.
  • Meaningful Name: Parodied. The last names of the members of the Lancre Morris Men are professions, but never their professions (Carter is a baker, Carpenter is a tailor, and so on).
    • Double Subverted with Tinker the tinker, who's mentioned only twice, once fleetingly and again in the denouement. There's also Weaver, who's a weaver, but not the only weaver.
  • Medical Monarch: Nanny Ogg says kings are a bit magical because they can cure dandruff.
  • Mind-Control Music: The Elves have this, and hearing their singing nearly causes Magrat to run right to them until she bumps into Shawn Ogg, whose iron armor snaps her out of it. Like the rest of their glamour, it starts out as overwhelmingly beautiful until you focus on it, at which point it turns into the audio equivalent of the Uncanny Valley.
  • Mind Rape: A feature of the Elves' glamour.
  • Mundane Solution: Granny tries, with limited success, to use her Borrowing skills to investigate who's been summoning the elves. Nanny, meanwhile, gets to the bottom of the situation just by asking her son.
  • My Card: Casanunda's proclaims him to be 'World's Second Greatest Lover', 'Finest Swordsman', 'Soldier of Fortune', 'Outrageous Liar', and 'Stepladders Repaired'.

    Tropes N-P 
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Magrat, determined to free the kingdom from "old wives' tales", removes the iron bars surrounding the ill Diamanda. The iron bars that are the only thing protecting her from being influenced by the elves. Oops.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: The Elf Queen hits Magrat with the full force of her glamour, convincing her of her utter worthlessness. All she does is leave the unbreakable portion of Magrat's psyche in charge of Magrat's actions.
  • Non-Indicative Name:
    • Mrs. Scorbic the cook, who hates fruits and vegetables, is named after ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).
      • Loops back around to Fridge Brilliance - ascorbic acid gets its name because it prevents scurvy. Mrs. Scorbic's cooking is more likely to cause it.
    • Besides Mr. Tinker and Jason Ogg, the members of the Lancre Morris Men all have surnames that are occupations, but not their occupations ("Carter the tailor", "Baker the carter" and so on).
    • Also the members of the Carter family: see Ironic Name above.
  • No-Sell:
    • The castle beekeeper sees through the Elves' glamour immediately and kills them on sight, comparing them to wasps. It's noted that this is more because his mind is too focused on bees for anything else to get in.
    • The elves have arrows which allow them to control the minds of men. They never considered the mind of an orang-utan. All it does is make them bloody furious.
  • Noodle Incident: Jason Ogg's increasingly adamant refusal to let the locals perform an alternative to the play. ("No one is to do the Stick and Bucket Dance ever again... Old Mr. Thrum still walks with a limp, and it were three months ago.")
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Near the end, Granny Weatherwax points out that she and Jason Ogg have something in common: the price they pay for being the best is always having to be the best, and taking on any challenge that comes their way whether they like it or not.
  • Nude Nature Dance: A group of wannabe witches dance nude around an ancient stone circle, unwittingly inviting The Fair Folk into Lancre.
  • Objectshifting: A bandit chieftain makes the mistake of trying to accost Mustrum Ridcully; it ends with the unfortunate bandit being turned into a pumpkin.
  • Opposites Theme Naming: There's a character whose mother got a bit confused about the tradition of naming daughters after virtues. Her daughters had names like Charity (a miser), Hope (chronically depressed), and Chastity (a lady of negotiable affection). She named her sons after vices, such as Anger (a kind and non-violent man), Bestiality (very kind to animals), and Deviousness (an honest and straightforward chap).
  • Our Elves Are Terrifying: Elves actually weaponize the idea that they're better than you, Mind Raping you with it.
  • Outscare the Enemy: Nanny Ogg rallying the villagers against the invading elves.
    "Well," she said, "it's like this. If you go out there you may have to face elves. But if you stops here, you definitely have to face me. Now, elves is worse than me, I'll admit. But I'm persistent."
  • The Perils of Being the Best: Jason Ogg is the greatest blacksmith on the Disc, capable of shoeing absolutely anything, but the price for that is that he has to shoe anything he's challenged to shoe.
  • Playful Pursuit: We learn Esme Weatherwax and Mustrum Ridcully used to engage in this in their youth. So did Gytha Ogg (presumably with many blokes), but while Esme could outrun any man, Gytha had a tendency to trip on the first root she managed to find.
  • Poor Communication Kills: After Magrat "leaves witching" Granny is so pridefully determined to keep her out of what's happening that she keeps her out of the loop even when there's an elf in the dungeon and Magrat is treating an elf-shot wound. She claims that Magrat would "get the wrong idea" about the Elves, but she doesn't try to tell her the truth even when Magrat knows the elves are involved (hence leaving her woefully unprepared, and really, really angry).

    Tropes Q-S 
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Granny Weatherwax verbally eviscerates the Elf Queen. The Queen tries to fire back... and Granny just laughs in her face.
    • She also does similar to Diamanda when she finds the girl up by the standing stones. She fairly quickly tells her I Am Not Left-Handed and if she is still going to be stupid at playing witchcraft, Granny will teach her what it really means to be a witch.
  • Remonstrating with a Gun: When Magrat gets hold of an axe.
  • Riddle Me This: The Two Doors riddle is discussed and deconstructed pretty thoroughly by Stibbons, Ridcully, and Casanunda.
    Casanunda: Simple. You go up to the smaller guard and say 'Tell me which door leads to freedom if you don't want to see the colour of your kidneys.'
    Stibbons: But you haven't got a weapon!
    Casanunda: Yes I have, I stole it from the guard while he was considering the question.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Played with— Ridcully's pointy hat is not particularly magical (the wizards learned their lesson with that after Sourcery) but it does contain emergency whiskey (or probably stronger), endless storage compartments and a crossbow, all of which prove useful.
  • Rousing Speech: Shawn attempts one, and unknowingly fails. His mum steps in and motivates the mob with carrot and stick.
    • We never hear exactly what was said, but from the description it's pretty clear he butchered the "Saint Crispin's Day" speech from Henry V. Not only that, but he tried to use it on a fairly cynical group who spotted the depressing issues with a speech about a doomed Last Stand.
  • Rule of Drama: Granny barges into the castle and sweeps the dining-things off the royal table to lay down the elf-shot Diamanda. The narrator notes that she didn't actually have to do this, because the table is enormous and had plenty of empty space, but there's no point in making an entrance like that if you aren't going to sweep everything off the table.
  • Running Gag:
    • Not just the Bursar, but pretty much any discombobulated character merits a "dried frog pills" reference in this one.
    • Shawn Ogg's enthusiastic, dim-witted and very trying attempts to follow royal protocol.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Bursar's ever-fractured mind starts off pretty bad as it is, kept barely in shape by dried frog pills. He's on the down swing by the time the wizards get to Lancre, but an outbreak of elves utterly shatters what little's left, and he becomes a gibbering loon for the rest of the book.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: Casanunda has "Outrageous Liar" written on his business card.
    Ponder: Are you really an outrageous liar?
    Casanunda: No.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The witch hopeful Diamanda has been to school and read books, and she likes letting everyone know that she can use big complex words.
  • Shaking Her Hair Loose: Granny does this to demonstrate her qualifications for taking on unicorns.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point, when discussing alternate timelines, the book mentions that conventional directions are useless and suggests some alternatives including "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," "There and Back Again," and "Beyond the Fields we Know". Also, as in Wyrd Sisters, the play segment contains Shakespearean references (in this case to A Midsummer Night's Dream). There are also a few scattered references to Shakespeare in other places, like the aforementioned "some people are born to kingship" fragment, which paraphrases Twelfth Night.
    • There are also numerous references to folk songs about fairies, particularly "Tam Lin" and "Thomas the Rhymer".
    • "There are indeed such things as parallel universes, although parallel is hardly the right word: universes swoop and spiral around one another like some mad weaving machine or a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble."
    • The universe doesn't much care if you step on a butterfly.
    • Not to mention Jane's All the World's Siege Weapons. Apparently Fred T. Jane was a siege weapon enthusiast on the Disc...
    • The line about the Librarian taking revenge, "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. They are not all that subtle" is a parody of the line from The Lord of the Rings about Gandalf: "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards because they are subtle and quick to anger".
    • Magrat overhears the King of the Elves talking to the Queen and recalls it to be "something about meeting by moonlight". This is a reference to Oberon's line from A Midsummer Night's Dream "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania", Oberon and Titania being the King and Queen of the Fairies.
    • When the wizards query the fact that Casanunda's card only declares him to the world's second greatest lover, he replies "I try harder". This is a reference to Avis Rent-a-car, who used this as a slogan in an advertising campaign that acknowledged that they were only the second largest car hire firm in the US at the time.
    • Shawn Ogg utterly fails to inspire the townsfolk with a mangled version of the St. Crispin's Day speech.
    • At the end, while discussing a vegetarian option for the wedding feast, Magrat finally decides to get tough with Mrs. Scorbic, threatening her with a crossbow and the line "Go ahead, bake my quiche."
    • "And from the empty hillside, only the silence of the elves."
    • In a single sentence, to The Jew of Maltanote  and to The Go-Betweennote :
    But that was a long time ago, in the past [footnote: Which is another country]. And besides, the bitch is ...
    ... older.
  • Sleepwalking: The Bursar has gotten so used to Ridcully's shouts waking him up in the morning that he's begun sleepdressing a few minutes before the daily cry of "Bursar!!!"
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": The wizards play "I Spy" during their carriage ride to Lancre. Since the Sto Plains aren't known for their scenery, they can only come up with things like "S" for sky and "C" for cabbages.
  • Speak of the Devil: Nanny is unwilling to say the true name of the elves unless she is in a blacksmith's forge surrounded by iron, and even then... The euphemistic names used otherwise include "The Fair Folk", "The Lords and Ladies" and "The Gentry".
    • Unfortunately, apparently due to the stretching of the already-stretched fabric of the universe, using even those terms near the Dancers can be bad...
  • Spikes of Villainy: The general theme of the armour and portrait of Queen Ynci is that of a spikey variety.
  • Staring Contest: Granny and Diamanda get into a staring contest with the sun. Nanny cheats in Granny's favor, naturally.
  • Swallow the Key: Ridcully and Ponder can't get more money to pay for the coach ride because the Bursar swallowed the key to the Unseen University safe.
  • Sweeping the Table: Played straight and Lampshaded. Granny Weatherwax sweeps a bunch of stuff off King Verence's dining room table to clear a space where she can put down someone who needs medical attention.
    Granny swept a candlestick and some crockery on to the floor with a dramatic motion and laid Diamanda on the table. In fact there were several acres of table totally devoid of any obstruction, but there's no sense in making an entrance unless you're prepared to make a mess.

    Tropes T-Z 
  • Table Space: Magrat and King Verence sit at opposite ends of the very long dining room table because Verence has to sit at the head of the table, and Magrat sitting at an angle to him makes conversation almost as awkward as sitting at the other end. It's made awkward on several levels, not just because they're trying to have a conversation during dinner, but because they're engaged to be married. Magrat eventually gets fed up with Verence having to shout so she can hear him, and gets the butler to move her chair to the other end. It gets lampshaded, with Magrat noting that she's heard about this sort of thing but always thought it only happened in stories until it happened to her.
  • The Talk: Nanny Ogg attempts to give this to Magrat. Verence tries to order a book on marital arts, but gets one on martial arts instead, which at least gives Shawn Ogg something to do on guard duty. Verence eventually gets his information from Casanunda and an interesting song sung by Nanny Ogg. They must have worked it all out in the end, because by Carpe Jugulum, Magrat has a baby daughter.
    • The fun is in the fact that Nanny eventually gives up on the talk because Magrat is being helplessly naive about the subject she's hinting at, but it turns out Magrat was doing it deliberately to get Nanny to go away.
  • Tasty Gold: Ridcully loses $8,000 at "Cripple Mr. Onion" to Casanunda, a self proclaimed "outrageous liar" who "cannot play it very well." As he pays up, Casanundra stops him without even biting into it:
    Casanunda: You don't happen to have 'outrageous liar' on your visiting card, by any chance?
    Ridcully: No!
    Casanunda: It's just that I can recognize chocolate money when I see it.
  • Thin Dimensional Barrier: There are "thin places" where other realities brush up against the Disc. One is contained by The Dancers, a Circle of Standing Stones saturated with meteoric iron, and causes no end of trouble when The Fair Folk start escaping it.
  • Thunderbolt Iron: In this case, it's actually hematite (at one point it's mentioned that it's reddish in color).
  • Title Drop: Lords and Ladies is a name given to the elves because no one wants to say their true name.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Magrat, from the moment she finds Queen Ynci's armor and decides she will be a Lady of War.
  • Ultimate Blacksmith: Jason Ogg, said to be part of the power of his office: as long as he is willing to shoe anything, he will have the ability to shoe anything. He's shod an ant, Death's horse, and a unicorn.
  • Unchosen One: Granny wasn't chosen to become a witch, she decided to be one and didn't give up until someone agreed to train her.
  • Unexpectedly Real Magic: The young witches are "new age Wiccan"-type witches, all about mystic symbolism and occult jewelry, while the old witches know that real magic is mostly psychological and comes from not being used. The girls actually have magic power, but it's being supplied by an elf queen in order to help their invasion of the disc.
  • Unfortunate Names: The Carters reckon that, if girls get named after virtues, that leaves the sins for boys. They give their sons the names Anger, Bestiality, and Deviousness. It's noted that these are inaccurate, as Anger grows up with a temper as long as his arm, Bestiality grows up kind to animals, and Deviousness is as honest as his big brother Anger is long-suffering.
  • Unicorn: Like the elves, the book uses the vicious version of old, portraying it as essentially a maddened, wild stallion with a big bloody horn it can use to spear people.
  • Unicorns Prefer Virgins: The unicorn is a wild and ferocious beast that sows terror in the mortal world when released there by the Queen of the Elves, but can still be tamed and pacified by a virgin. In this specific case, Granny Weatherwax, a lifelong virgin, is the one to do it.
  • We All Die Someday: After Magrat charges off to fight the Elves, Ponder hesitates going after her.
    Ponder: Graveyards are full of people who rushed in bravely but unwisely.
    The Librarian: Ook. [Sooner or later, graveyards are full of everybody.]
  • What Could Have Been: in-universe. Ridcully keeps wondering this in regard to himself and Granny. He says something like, "We'd have all kinds of grandchildren by now." She shoots him down:
    Granny: What about the fire?
    Ridcully: What fire?
    Granny: Swept through our house just after we were married. Killed us both.
    Ridcully: What fire? I don't know anything about any fire?
    Granny: Of course not! It didn't happen. But the point is, it might have happened. You can't say 'if this didn't happen then that would have happened' because you don't know everything that might have happened. You might think something'd be good, but for all you know it could have turned out horrible. You can't say 'If only I'd...' because you could be wishing for anything. The point is, you'll never know. You've gone past. So there's no use thinking about it. So I don't.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To A Midsummer Night's Dream, carrying on the Shakespearean theme from Wyrd Sisters.
  • You Keep Using That Word:
    • After the Lancre Morris Men discover that "Rude Mechanicals" is a phrase used to describe amateur thespians like themselves, one of them thinks this means he has to periodically shout rude words. Doubly amusing, in that the ones he thinks to shout aren't particularly rude.
    • Many of the descriptive terms that now make the average person think elves must be good ("terrific", "glamorous", etc) originally meant something scary ("instill terror", "use glamor-magic against you", etc).
  • You Know What That Means: Used by Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, regarding the Crop Circles appearing across Lancre. Magrat is the one who doesn't know what it means (that the elves are trying to invade), and the other two don't enlighten her because they think Magrat won't understand that the return of the elves is a bad thing.