Saturday, 21 September 2013

I Shall Wear Midnight

My fourth book for Carl's R.I.P. VIII challenge is I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett. This is book four in his Tiffany Aching series, a sub-series of his huge Discworld universe.

Tiffany is now sixteen years old and is the witch on The Chalk. She has learnt that witching is more about nursing than about doing magic and finds people expect an old head on young shoulders, but do not often want to give her the credit she deserves when she lives up to their expectations. And now there's an odd mood about. Every couple of hundred years it seems the populace has a mood swing and decides it doesn't much like witches after all, that they could be responsible for all kinds of ills and nastiness. And this appears to be happening again. But why? Is it the natural order of things or is there something else afoot?

The old baron of The Chalk dies while his son is in Ankh-Morpork. The son, Roland, was very close to Tiffany and it was supposed that they might become romantically involved. But now Roland is suddenly engaged to Leticia, a beautiful girl with an awful mother who wants to rule the roost at the castle. It falls to Tiffany go and fetch Roland and his fiance back from the city. Naturally, she doesn't want to do it, especially when on the way she encounters a sinister being who has no eyes, just gaps where you can see through his head to the other side. Luckily, Tiffany is constantly protected by the Nac Mac Feegle tribe of little blue men, or Wee Free Men, even if she isn't always grateful for their constant vigilance. In the city, Tiffany gets into all kinds of trouble and once again encounters the eyeless man. Something very bad is clearly about happen.

Tiffany is up to her eyes in problems. She's accused of disturbing the peace in the city by The Watch and locked up, and back on The Chalk she has a serious problem of an assault by a vicious father on his own daughter. Add to that her own emotional vulnerablity over Roland, accusations over her honesty, and now the serious and possibly world-altering problem of the eyeless man, and Tiffany is wondering if this is all worth it. Somehow she has to find a way to solve these problems and prove to her people that she is a viable witch.

Well, I believe this may be the last of the Tiffany Aching books. Not only did it feel like a 'good-bye', especially at the end, but the comments of others seem to indicate it might be. I feel sad but perhaps it's the right time.

There're a lot of grown-up issues for Tiffany to deal with in this story. Dealing with violence in the home of one of her patients, dealing with unyeilding attitudes, trying to sort out her own feelings towards someone who has basically jilted her in favour of girl who is blonde and pretty. As Tiffany says, brunettes don't get to be princesses. (Though actually it seems they now do...) In a way this is a coming of age story. Tiffany is now 'all growed up' and finds she has to prove herself to all the other witches. Prove she is worthy of her own 'steading' and not just a witch who is 'all right' but no great shakes.

I found this to be a very strong story. A lot going on in it, several plot strands going on at once, lots of humour, but also quite a serious book in many ways. It was also nice to have a very familiar cast once again. Not just Tiffany but The Wee Free Men and their queen, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg put in an appearance as do the The Night Watch from the Sam Vimes books. Odd though that when they put in an appearance in other books it's often not sympathetically and you find yourself against them rather than for.

All in all a stonking good read. I hope this isn't the last Tiffany book but if it is then this is a jolly good ending. I shall doubtless read them all again one day as, after the Sam Vimes books, they are definitely my second favourite Discworld series of books.


Booklogged said...

I've only read the first two in this sub-series but I loved them. Actually, I listened to Wee Free Men and laughed so hard at parts. It was fun to hear their heavy Scottish accents. Your review puts me in the frame of mind for Terry Pratchett. I haven't read anything with Sam Vimes in so I guess I'll see if I have one on my shelf. Have a good weekend, Cath.

DesLily said...

I read the whole series some time ago and enjoyed them..I knew you would too since you like most all you've read by Terry Pratchett.

I've begun Dust and Shadow..."supposedly written by Watson" about he and Sherlock and Jack the Ripper. This author has Holmes and Watson's dialog down to a "t" ! as always I hear the voices of Basil Rathbone and Nigel BRuce! lol

Cath said...

Booklogged: When I first tried to read The Wee Free Men I was put off by the written Scottish accents. The second time I had no trouble at all and wondered what I'd been moaning about. LOL The Sam Vimes books are superb, if you're going to try them start with Guards! Guards!

I hope you're enjoying your weekend too.

Pat: It's a good series, and I really liked this one.

OH! How weird. I'm reading Sherlock Holmes too, but in my case it's The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. Enjoying it... am I wrong or did you read that for RIP last year?

I don't know Dust and Shadow so look forward to your review of it. Am in the mood for Sherlock Holmes and Victorian London.

DesLily said...

no I've never read House of Silk..I think last year I read 2 Holmes books by Nicholas Meyer though.

Because of Setterfields book ..or more because of Setterfield herself I am finding all the books I am reading for RIP this year don't "hold a candle" to the 13th Tale!

Cath said...

Must be someone else, Pat. Hmm, wonder who... Just finished The House of Silk and thought it was pretty good.

Shame you're finding it so hard finding books that measure up to The Thirteenth Tale.

Priya said...

It took me some time to get used to the Feegles, though the Tiffany Aching series turned into one of my favourites from the Discworld books. I'd love if there were more books, of course, but I did think it was a good goodbye. Nice review!

Cath said...

Priya: Yes, I had to have two stabs at the Feegles in this series. The first time the written dialogue really irritated me. I would love it if there were more books too and you never know, there may be.

Lynn said...

I didn't fully read your review because I am currently reading this for a readalong and wanted to avoid spoilers or any hints.
I read The House of Silk a while ago. I thought it was quite a good novel and I really enjoyed revisiting Holmes and Watson. It's difficult to recapture somebody else's voice but Horowitz makes a good job of it. I wasn't totally convinced that the subject matter was something that Conan Doyle would ever have used/alluded to so I suppose a bit of a more modern take. I think I would personally have preferred him to stay old school but in spite of this it was still quite a good book.
Lynn :D

Cath said...

Lynn: I do hope you're enjoying I Shall Wear Midnight. Look forward to your review of it.

I too thought Horowitz did a pretty good job of recreating Conan Doyle's voice. I was 'not at all' convinced that the subject matter would have been visited by CD. I don't think he would have touched that with a barge-pole quite frankly. But it was, as you say, a decent read nevertheless.