Pratchett, Terry. I Shall Wear Midnight.

NY: Harper, 2010.

It’s difficult to think of an author who is more humane, more caring, more simply likeable than Sir Terry. He believes in people, even those he doesn’t have much use for. And these traits have made him one of the most popular living authors in any language. Having said all that, it’s also nice to be able to say that this is a very good wrap-up to the four-volume story of Tiffany Aching, Witch of the Chalk, Witch of the Hills, Big Wee Hag to the Nac Mac Feegles, and all of sixteen years old — though she’s been a witch since she was nine.

At least, I assume it’s the wrap-up — but I previously thought Wintersmith was the end of a trilogy. (On the other hand, there are Pratchett’s well-known medical problems. . . .) Tiffany has had a hard apprenticeship, what with overcoming local prejudice and kissing Winter and all, but now she’s got a handle on things and she stays very, very busy, looking after her people. But trouble is brewing in the form of an ancient and evil force of hatred and prejudice, and if she doesn’t defeat it, it could make things very difficult for all witches — not to mention for innocent old ladies who merely seem a bit odd. But if the evil defeats her, it will take over her body and will know everything she knows. And then the other witches will have to kill her, whether they want to or not, for their own protection. As Granny Weatherwax says, “We do good. We don’t do nice.” But Tiffany has a number of uncommon skills she can call on, including her friendly relationship with fire. Meanwhile, she also has to help the old Baron prepare for his upcoming death, and help Roland become the new Baron, and figure out how to deal with the jealousy of Roland’s fiancée, who is also an untutored witch. Note that this is (theoretically) a YA book, though some people (those who think adolescents must be protected from the world) will undoubtedly object to certain themes and scenes. But, like Robert Heinlein, Pratchett produces books for young readers that will appeal to us middle-aged types as well. And through it all, Pratchett spins his own magic with the language, which he does better than almost anyone. A lovely book.

Published in: on 17 February 2011 at 3:27 pm  Leave a Comment  
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