Terry Pratchett: I Shall Wear Midnight

Tiffany Aching is growing up — finally!

To be fair, it never felt like Pratchett was writing “down” to Tiffany or to a younger audience in the first three books of this subseries; for one thing, Pratchett was probably constitutionally incapable of writing down to anybody to begin with, and the fact that Tiffany (being a witch, and one trained — inofficially — by Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg) routinely does things way beyond her actual age and maturity helped, too, for me to feel at least largely at home here. Yet, there’s a marked difference between the first three books’ Tiffany and that of this fourth book; and only seeing Tiffany beginning to truly act like a(n albeit very young) adult here made me realize just how much I had missed adults capable of grown-up thought processes and analysis as Pratchett’s main characters in the first three books. I don’t suppose YA will ever be for me; not entirely — it’s just soo much easier for me to connect with grown-up characters …

By the same token, I was also rather glad that Pratchett had finally left the “Tiffany meets classic folklore and mythology” bits behind. He had said everything along those lines that he’s saying in the first three Tiffany Aching books, too, much earlier in the series already (most pithily and successfully in Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad and — especially — Hogfather), so this entire motif felt like a drawn-out exercise along the lines of “and now, let’s do it again for our younger audience” … and I was (dare I say it in connection with a Pratchett book) getting almost bored with the whole thing Now, you may say that moving on to a storyline along classic witch hunts is not exactly the pith and pitch of geniality on Pratchett’s part, either (especially not after the sheer brilliance that is Good Omens — the book, not the TV series, I mean), but I was just glad that Tiffany (as another mark of her growing up, as it were) was finally up against Evil Not-Quite-Incarnate, instead of against yet another anthropomorphic incarnation of seasonal (especially Nordic) phenomena — in which, after all, as both Hogfather and all three first Tiffany Aching books tell us, we have to believe to be able to hold on to our humanity … whereas true Evil, whether embodied somewhere, somehow or hovering about invisibly and impossible to firmly pin down, must be destroyed; again, in order to allow us to hold on to our humanity.

Now, if only the ending had held up to the comparison with the climactic showdown in Good Omens, and Pratchett hadn’t left the odd minor narrative strand dangling halfway through the book …

Still and all, definitely my favorite of the four Tiffany Aching books we’ve covered so far.

And I think I’m going to stop here for the time being. The final Tiffany Aching book (The Shepherd’s Crown) was the last Discworld book Pratchett ever wrote — I’ve vowed I will only be going there after I’ve read the whole rest of the series.

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