I Shall Read Midnight

(Sorry, couldn’t help myself with that post title.)

Is it heretical of me to say that I didn’t like this as much as other Pratchett novels? I feel bad for saying it. It’s certainly not that I disliked it – far from it – but I didn’t feel like it flowed as well as some of the other recent stories have.

Overall, I have loved the Tiffany Aching books a great deal. I love that we have followed a character from the age of eight or so, as she discovers that she has to do something that will set her apart from everyone else, and then goes through with it anyway. I love that that character is a girl. I love the way Pratchett has played with and inverted all sorts of tiresome notions from fairy stories and society more generally in writing these stories. I also love that Tiffany is a witch, because I adore the very concept of Headology.

Plus, Nac Mac Feegles for the win.

My issue is not with Tiffany. She continues to be a largely awesome character, who while dealing with adolescence can see the light at the end of that particular tunnel; who has mostly come to grips with being a witch, the burdens of that job and the expectations and responsibilities, while still being human enough to get intensely irritated by them sometimes. Many of the other characters were also brilliant – HELLO Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, making a comeback appearance! And a new witch, Mrs Proust, who is… all sorts of interesting. I would like to see her interacting with Vimes and the Guard. Or possibly Sybil. Plus the wonderful Preston, who is a totally ridiculous guard.

Also, Nac Mac Feegles. And more of Jeannie, the kelda, whom I love to bits. I love her attitude towards the Feegles… possibly because it reminds me of the way I would like to think that I deal with my students, it occurs to me.

Part of my trouble with this story is with the plot; not the details, but in some of the ways it gets places. There’s a feeling of disconnect between some sections, of moving too abruptly from one idea or action-scene to the next, which made me less than comfortable. I liked the vibe overall, though, of dealing with gigantic issues from history (quite literally) at the same time as dealing with very personal issues. The combination of “all witches are eeevil” with “how will I live with being a witch?” made a lot of sense, and the two complemented each other nicely.

My other minor issue was a feeling of repetition. Now I know, and usually enjoy, Pratchett’s habit of repetition – of phrases turning up again and again, of repeating information with slight changes in phrasing or emphasis. But, and I can’t point to exact instances so you’ll just have to believe me, here it fell a little flat. Perhaps there wasn’t quite the same twistiness, or… I don’t know. It just missed the mark a few times.

Still, it’s an enjoyable book, and I have no hesitation in recommending it. Because, yo, Nac Mac Feegles.

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