Eskarina Smith

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Eskarina Smith
File:Eskmine.jpg
Young Eskarina Smith, by Kit Cox
Name Eskarina Smith
Race Human
Age 7 and 8 in Equal Rites
Occupation Student witch, then student wizard, now wizard no more
Physical appearance Brown hair in Equal Rites White haired ponytail, wrinkles by the time of I Shall Wear Midnight
Residence no fixed address, since Bad Ass
Death
Parents Gordo Smith (Father)
Relatives
Children She has mentioned having a son, who she is concerned for.
Marital Status Never married. Apparently.
Appearances
Books Equal Rites
I Shall Wear Midnight
Cameos The Shepherd's Crown


Eskarina Smith (Esk for short) is the Disc's first and only female wizard, and Granny Weatherwax's first pupil.

Biography

Childhood

Eskarina was born in the smithy of the village of Bad Ass, the eighth son child of an eighth son. She inherited the magical powers and staff of Drum Billet, a wizard from Unseen University. While still a small child, Esk became a pupil of Granny Weatherwax, until it became clear that she had Wizards' magic, not Witches' magic. Eskarina was the first and—as far as is known—only female student ever accepted or at least allowed to enter Unseen University (after a major battle to do so).

She was present when Simon the self-taught wizard was brought to UU. He gave lectures on the nature of magic to the senior faculty staff in his first year! Such power inevitably caused ripples in the space-time continuum; the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions clustered in his shadows, their characteristic chitering noises unnoticed by all... except Esk, with her own burgeoning magical talent.

Eventually they burst through and took Simon into the Dungeon Dimensions, where Esk followed to try to rescue him. She managed this by not using magic, which puzzled and infuriated the Things (being Thaumivores, they feed on magic).

When she and Simon eventually returned to UU they set up a research group and came up with an entire system of the non-use of magic.

Absence

Eskarina was missing from the Discworld series for a long time. Despite the Sourcerer's pledge to the Librarian to restore everything "as good as old", she was presumed dead. An assumed scenario was that Esk was another casualty killed in the collapse of the Tower of Art, during the battle with the Sourcerer.

As Granny Weatherwax's first-ever pupil, her legend attained myth-like proportions among Lancre's student witches, aided by older witches' attitudes such as Nanny Ogg's "least-said, soonest-mended", Miss Tick changing the subject, or a general "Don't ask" attitude on the part of the older witches.

Return

Esk returned in the fourth Tiffany Aching book, I Shall Wear Midnight. She makes a final cameo appearance in The Shepherd's Crown.

Mrs Proust told Tiffany that a hard-to-find lady (who'd find her with ease) would be keen to talk to her, and that this woman would be well worth listening to. When the Cunning Man was bearing down on Tiffany in Ankh-Morpork, the mysterious "Miss Smith" came to her rescue, leading her to a safehouse within the Unreal Estate. Tiffany realised who Miss Smith was upon seeing Esk's staff; it was currently being used in a Shamble, and Esk had taken the knob off the end, in a possible reference to sexual metaphors.

She looked old, with white hair and wrinkles, but also young, with a ponytail and a childish laugh. She had learnt to manipulate time and space via the Travelling Now. Chatting over tea, Esk dispensed advice, and told the girl how she had walked through time to see the creation of the Cunning Man, over 1000 years previously. Esk said she had bad memories of her wizarding past - the scary recollections were never a problem, but the "good ones can be difficult to deal with".

Miss Smith used the Travelling Now to contact Tiffany a couple more times in the novel. Most interestingly, Esk passed on the secret of time-travel to the young Tiffany who, at a climactic scene in the book, was aided by her older self...

In a single throwaway remark in I Shall Wear Midnight, never returned to, Esk expresses concern for her son. Is this an idea a future book may explore, or are we being invited to speculate? Her son is also mentioned in The Shepherd's Crown, but nothing is elaborated upon. It is possible her son is also the son of Simon, and the child of two Wizards might well be remarkable enough for her to be concerned for his safety. In Sourcery it is mentioned that Ipslore the Red's seven sons before Coin are all very powerful wizards, so, presumably, the child of any wizard would also be a powerful wizard. Eskarina and Simon are both very powerful wizards, so their son might be considered a threat by many; thus, they may have been banished as Ipslore was if they pursued a relationship. In The Shepherd's Crown, Eskarina opines that he might become an engineer, which may be even more frightening.

Annotations

  • There was no mention of Esk since her first appearance until I Shall Wear Midnight, a gap of 35 novels. One fan theory associated this with the problem of reconciling themes changed in later books (e.g., traits of Granny Weatherwax's personality, the mention that Krull has a magical university and trained women professionals, etc.) that could not be explained by the continuity error-excusing time slip implied by the activity of the History Monks or in Wyrd Sisters.
  • It was rumoured that Esk would return for the final (or next-to-final) Tiffany Aching book, and this turned out to be true. Simon's fate remains unknown, Eskarina has shown up alive and well - perhaps she side-stepped the War of the Sourceror altogether, having found something more interesting and productive to do?
  • Esk refers to elasticated string theory, which was one of Simon's specialties.