Mar 26, 2013

[Books] I Shall Wear Midnight

I had already gotten a few chapters into reading I Shall Wear Midnight when I realized that I had not read the prior book, Wintersmith, before getting around to this one. And it's not like I don't own a copy of the book - I just didn't realize that it was still part of my "to-read" queue. Darn it.

But since I had already started, I really couldn't do anything else other than continue on and finish it since that's part of my quirks when I come to books. It's very rare that I stop reading a particular book and when I do, it's usually for good. Once begun, I do my best to press on and get to the finish line before forming a full opinion of the book as a whole. It's only fair, right?

But given how these Discworld books are written, the jump in sequence had minimal effect of my ability to enjoy the story, which is always a credit to the quality of the writing. As much as Discworld comes with over 30 books worth of continuity, it's still easy to jump into individual stories and see the journey to the end.

Synopsis: I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth book in the Tiffany Aching series of books and the 38th Discworld novel to be released. Sir Terry Pratchett remains to be the author of these books as he continues to find new aspects of the Disc for us to explore, experience and enjoy.

At this point in time, Tiffany is now 15 years and pretty much well-recognized as the "official" witch of The Chalk. And her witchly duties include all the traditional tasks of helping the infirm and the elderly, acting as mid-wife to those who need it and helping ease the pain of the dying. In this case the dying includes the old Baron, father of Roland, another recurring character in the Tiffany Aching books.

But the Baron's time comes and Tiffany takes it upon herself to travel to Ankh-Morpork to find Roland and inform him of his father's passing. But on the way she is attacked be a strange dark figure with no eyes - someone who is later to be known as the Cunning Man. And the attack is not isolated - for some reason people are becoming increasing distrustful of witches and the large pointy hat on Tiffany's head is fast becoming one big target.

There's certainly a degree of "pride" to be experienced reading about Tiffany pretty much being a witch. And as much as it's not exactly a glamorous job, it's a strongly necessary one. And given how I've come to love Tiffany over the years, it is certainly worthy of respect to see how well she fulfills her duties and how she's able to hold her own even among fellow witches. That says a lot about the strength of the character and how much she has grown (and definitely matured) over the years. She's certainly growing up to be quite the formidable witch.

And this book helped address other questions about her development including resolving the question of Roland, better situating what place her father has in things and even the passing of the old Baron. Heck, we even addressed the question of Wee Mad Arthur from the Ankh-Morpork City Watch!

Pratchett's writing remains as playful and elegant as ever in this book and I don't see how one can make the statement that this is meant to be a young adult novel. If it truly is one, then it's a great one that doesn't talk down to its audience, and thus it works well on a number of levels. Plus it's the main place where one can read about the Witches of Lancre, and that inevitably draws older readers who love the likes of Granny Weatherwax.

Admittedly I enjoyed the complexity of our "villain" in the book, even though you can argue that the Cunning Man is practically simple given his singular motivations. But defeating him wasn't simple at all and how Tiffany managed to work her way through this problem in order to come out on top was definitely admirable.

Plus man, he totally had one of the best descriptions of cats in a footnote towards the end of the book.

I Shall Wear Midnight is essentially your true coming-of-age book for Tiffany Aching and one that makes her pass through the fire - quite literally, in fact. The book gets a solid 5 typically ridiculous incidents involving the Nac Mac Feegles out of a possible 5.

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