Review Blog

Nov 25 2010

I shall wear midnight by Terry Pratchett

cover image

Doubleday, 2010. ISBN 978 0385617963.
(14+) Highly recommended. Tiffany Aching is a teenaged witch portrayed in this marvelous, uproariously funny story set in a fantasy world which bears a resemblance to Medieval England. Amidst the constant humour involving outrageous situations, brilliant puns and hilarious word mangling, some serious and touching issues are handled with genuine compassion by the author through his characters.
Importantly, Tiffany is a kindly creature with wholesome values who spends more time doing the largely unappreciated, hard graft of caring for the aged and sick, delivering babies and assisting the poor than casting spells. Whilst Pratchet uncompromisingly casts her as a witch, and has her riding broomsticks or practicing magic, he continuously emphasizes her kindness and righteousness. Evil is present within the story but Tiffany is the heroine, prepared to fight to the death if necessary in order to protect her friends and family in the village.
Tiffany is human, with natural feelings and vulnerabilities, however she has the gift of magic which has caused her to consciously follow a calling which necessitates much personal sacrifice and unending work. One cannot help comparing her with religious figures who deny themselves intimate relationships, wealth and comfort in their determination to improve the lives of others.
This is a harmless story. Quite reasonably witches and the black arts are concepts which are repugnant in Christian communities, however it is vital to appreciate that Tiffany is a 'good witch' who reviles evil and promotes universally worthy values.
Having said that, Tiffany is not perfect and is driven to distraction by the people for whom she cares and most of all by the insanely funny 'Feegles' - miniature Scotsmen and women who live underground and have appointed themselves her protectors.
The Feegles are exceedingly violent, destructive and intemperate but they are exceedingly brave and have hearts of gold, causing the reader to cheer for them frequently.
A range of realistic and a few extraordinary characters come together in common situations which sometimes evolve into the fantastic within this wonderful, well crafted story.
Rob Welsh

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