When Terry Pratchett passed away, I dropped what I was reading and picked up one of his novels. I still have a lot to get through, but the last I read was The Wee Free Men, so I decided to carry on with the Tiffany Aching books.
In this second novel, Tiffany leaves her hometown for the first time to apprentice under a woman named Miss Level, a witch that has two bodies that share one mind. Her apprenticeship isn’t what she imagined, however, as it seems to mainly entail taking care of others. It’s more errands around town than toil and trouble, but what she doesn’t realize is that she’s been followed by a truly horrific entity, and it’s what she learned from those errands, rather than straightforward magic, that is going to save her.
It’s still magic. Knowing things is magical, if other people don’t know them.
I love this sub-series of Discworld novels. This was even better than The Wee Free Men, and I don’t come to that conclusion purely sentimentally, although I’m sure his death changed my reading of the novel somewhat. My dad bought me these books years ago, and I think I mentally set them aside when I learned they were some of his young adult novels, but I honestly don’t think I would have noticed if I hadn’t known going in. It’s mainly labeled as such because the main character is a teenager, and there’s a lot of great little messages about taking responsibility and being yourself and knowledge having power, which I think a lot of adults in the world could do with some reminding on anyway. Pratchett doesn’t write down to his young audience, and he’s also not afraid to tackle dark topics like death and misery. He stated this in a 2008 interview with The Independent:
My advice is this. For Christ’s sake, don’t write a book that is suitable for a kid of 12 years old, because the kids who read who are 12 years old are reading books for adults.[…] Because you want kids to grow up to be adults, not just bigger kids.
Everything about this was fantastic. The witches, the baddie (which was actually surprisingly creepy), and of course the Nac Mac Feegle – six-inch tall blue-skinned, red-haired fairy folk who speak with a Scottish brogue, wear kilts, and spend their time fighting, drinking, and stealing. He pulls of their accent brilliantly, which is hard to do in a novel without driving the reader insane, and every scene with them is a lot of fun.
Another fantastic Discworld novel. Not much else to say, really. There will be four Aching books in total, once the last Discworld novel is published this year (that’s a sad sentence to write), and I’m looking forward to reading the next two.