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Book Review – I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Book Description:

It starts with whispers. Then someone picks up a stone. Finally, the fires begin. When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . . .

Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren’t sparkly, aren’t fun, don’t involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.

But someone —or something— is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root — before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.

Chilling drama combines with laugh out-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil.

*

And so we reach the end…  I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett is the last book in the YA fantasy series, and I just didn’t want it to end – I really strung out reading this one as long as I could 🙂 Now, I’m one of those people who delete all the books after I’ve read them on my Kindle (since all the books are in the Archive anyway), but this one? I’m keeping it (for sentimental reasons). I just felt this sense of complete satisfaction after I’d read it –  felt so good and happy inside, and even though I was sad to say goodbye to Tiffany and the Nac Mac Feegles, I was also content at where Tiffany and her friends were at when I reached the last page (and that’s a sentiment that I usually don’t feel about many series’ finales that I’ve read!)

In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany is now sixteen and a full fledged witch catering to the needs of the people of the Chalk (i.e. basically, her duties include anything/everything no one else is able or willing to do). Surprisingly, she is also completely single and I spent much of the novel wondering what happened between her and Roland (the Baron’s son) who seemed destined to be her sweetheart and even served as her ‘hero’ in the previous book Wintersmith, but he, alas, is preparing for his wedding with someone else in this book. However, dealing with her pseudo-ex-boyfriend’s impending nuptials is the least of Tiffany’s problems – there’s a poisonous blight slowly crawling over Discworld and it’s directed against witches. There is a ‘Cunning Man’ who is fueling all the nasty whispers, evil thoughts, and fearful feelings – and Tiffany is heading for a showdown with yet another supernatural being…

There are so many things to love about I Shall Wear Midnight – the always irreverent Nac Mac Feegles, the castle guard Preston (a funny new character who will totally grow on you the way he did on Tiffany – I kept on wondering when Tiffany would get over Roland and just see that more interesting boys were around!), and to up the sentimentality quotient, so many of my favorite characters showed up here too – Commander Vimes, Captain Carrot, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, etc etc. Tiffany’s brief visit to Ankh-Morpork actually made me home-sick for it – and I suddenly felt this urge to re-read my entire collection of Discworld books!

Seriously, if you’ve never read any of Terry Pratchett’s books, try to read at least one. They are excellent, humorous but heartwarming and truly imaginative fantasy books, and I feel so lucky that I was able to grow up reading his Discworld series. I’m so happy that he’s been able to continue writing even with Alzheimer’s disease.

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($9.99), Hardcover ($9.43), and Audible Audio Edition ($16.95).

You can also get the ebook at Barnes & Noble, Kobo books, Apple iBookstore.

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Book Review – Wintersmith (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Book Description:

At 9, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland.

At 11, she battled an ancient body-stealing evil.

At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you’re thirteen. . . .

But the Wintersmith isn’t exactly a boy. He is Winter itself—snow, gales, icicles—all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses out of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever.

Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to Spring. She’ll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax. They— Crivens! Tiffany will need the Wee Free Men too! She’ll have the help of the bravest, toughest, smelliest pictsies ever to be banished from Fairyland—whether she wants it or not.

It’s going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn’t survive until Spring— —Spring won’t come.

*

Like all the previous Tiffany Aching books from Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) was a delight to read through. I’ve followed Tiffany as she has grown up in the books, and it’s really amazing to me how Terry Pratchett just gets teenage girls. Tiffany Aching is now thirteen and shaping up to be the most promising young witch around, while under the tutelage of the hundred and thirteen years old witch Miss Treason (not to mention the more-than-occasional interference from Granny Weatherwax).

This time around, Tiffany’s big challenge is a boy – and not just any boy – the Wintersmith (the elemental Winter itself) has an obsessive ‘crush’ on Tiffany (who he thinks is the elemental Summer) and he sets about trying to attract Tiffany’s attention in a pretty destructive (and freezing) fashion. Inspite of herself, Tiffany is flattered by all the attention (snow crystals in her image, for example) and doesn’t quite know how to react. This uncharacteristic hesitation eventually places all Tiffany holds dear in grave danger. It’s a good thing that the Wee Free men together with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (yes, she makes an appearance here!) and an unlikely ‘hero’ in the Baron’s son Roland are all on her side as she tries to make things right again.

I did feel off-kilter though when I started reading Wintersmith – for some reason I still don’t get, Terry Pratchett starts the first chapter off with events that actually occur near the end of the story. It’s a very jarring experience – much like walking into a movie theater near the climax. And as a result, it took me some time to really get into the book when Mr Pratchett did go back to the beginning of the story. And still I didn’t get the point of this confusing approach even after I had read through the book.

And like I said, Tiffany is not quite herself in this book – I’m not quite used to this hesitant passive-aggressive Tiffany who needs protecting (even if only initially). But I did get why Tiffany couldn’t quite hate on the Wintersmith – there’s just something so heartbreakingly earnest & innocent about him as he went about trying to be a real boy and trying to impress his ‘crush’.

Long time readers of the Discworld series should be as delighted as I am with the return of the hilarious Wee Free Men. I personally loved getting Nanny Ogg back in this book (her relationship with Granny Weatherwax is one of the things I really treasure about the Discworld stories) and I really liked the new and improved (and surprisingly nerdy) Roland (ex-spoilt son of the Baron). I would love to see how Mr Pratchett develops Tiffany’s relationship with Roland in the next book 🙂

Wintersmith (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($7.99), Hardcover ($13.34), Paperback ($7.99) and Audible Audio Edition ($16.95).

You can also get the ebook at Barnes & Noble for the same price.

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Book Review – A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett

March 9, 2011 Leave a comment

Book Description:

The Heroine: Tiffany Aching, incipient witch and cheese maker extraordinaire. Once saved world from Queen of the Elves. Is about to discover that battling evil monarchs is child’s play compared to mortal combat with a Hiver (see below). At eleven years old, is boldest heroine ever to have confronted the Forces of Darkness while armed with a frying pan.

The Threat: A Hiver, insidious disembodied presence drawn to powerful magic. highly dangerous, frequently lethal. Cannot be stopped with iron or fire. Its target: Tiffany Aching (see above).

The Nac Mac Feegle: A.k.a. the Wee Free Men. Height: six inches. Color: blue. Famed for drinking, stealing, and fighting. Will attack anything larger than themselves. Members include: Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, and Awfully Wee Billy Bigchin. Allies to Tiffany Aching (see above).

The Book: Hilarious, breathtaking, spine-tingling sequel to the acclaimed Wee Free Men.

The Author: Terry Pratchett, celebrated creator of the internationally best-selling Discworld series. Carnegie Medalist and writer extraordinaire.

Well, I’m still working my way through Terry Pratchett’s YA-oriented Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure series. I loooved the first book The Wee Free Men (as you can tell from my linked gushy review). And I’m happy to report that I’m still loving the series; the second book A Hat Full of Sky is still a joy to read, just like the first! 🙂

In a A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching is now eleven and has had to leave her beloved Chalk country to travel far away and be an apprentice to the witch Miss Level. This older Tiffany is nowhere as preternaturally confident as her nine-year-old self, however. Tiffany may have defeated an evil Queen of the Elves before, but the jury is now out on whether she can defend herself against a dangerous enemy that’s stalking her – the Hiver – an invisible entity as old as time that ‘possesses’ its victims’ minds. Tiffany is weakened by homesickness, self-doubts about her magical talents, and bullying by another ‘mean girl’ witch-in-training… but not to worry, she has the best people in her corner – the loyal Wee Free Men (or the Nac Mac Feegles) and the best witch in Discworld – Mistress Weatherwax. Easy peasy, right? Right?! Not really… but you’ll have to read the book for details!

I loved Tiffany Aching when she was a bossy nine-year-old who knew she was always right (mostly because I wanted to be her). But the more vulnerable eleven-year-old Tiffany Aching is so much more relatable. I remember when I too became self-conscious about my appearance, or when acceptance by my peer-group gained an all-encompassing importance in my life. I’ve been there, thinking that I’m not good enough or trying not to cry when mocked by other little girls or in unleashing my inner ‘mean girl’ too. I’m not exactly sure how Terry Pratchett was able to put his finger on how an eleven-year-old girl feels growing up, but he got it. And bless him for showing us how Tiffany learns to deal with it (and the Hiver, of course).

The Nac Mac Feegles provide most of the comic relief (as usual), but I loved how Rob Anybody was such a hero here! Some of my favorite scenes involved Rob Anybody, especially with his wife Jeanie (the new Kelda of his clan). I didn’t like Jeanie at first, but she totally redeemed herself. And oh, needless to say, Mistress Weatherwax kicks everyone’s ass as usual (I did miss her sidekicks though) 🙂

Like I said, it was a total joy to read A Hat Full of Sky – I laughed many, many times… I got scared for Tiffany at times… and I also empathized with her growing pains. It is going to be such a pleasure to read the rest of the books in the series and watch Tiffany grow up some more (and maybe become the ‘best’ witch in Discworld).

A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($6.99), a Hardcover ($11.55), a Mass Market Paperback ($6.99) and Audible Audio Edition ($20.95).

You can also get the book at Barnes & Noble for the same price.

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Book Review – The Wee Free Men (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett

September 29, 2010 3 comments

Book Description:

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnaped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk’s local Nac Mac Feegle — aka the Wee Free Men — a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds — black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors — before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone….

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

I wanted to read Terry Pratchett’s latest Discworld book “I Shall Wear Midnight“, but then I found out that it was the fourth book in the YA-oriented Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure series. Well, unfortunately, even though I’d practically read every Discworld novel out there, I’d kinda skipped on all the YA ones. Now, since I’m OC about things like reading all the books before in a series, I’m stuck reading all the prior books.

Book #1 is titled The Wee Free Men and it stars the very spunky nine-year-old dairymaid (and also maybe Witch-in-training) Tiffany Aching. Tiffany has made it her self-imposed mission to rescue her (actually really annoying) baby brother Wentworth from the clutches of an evil Faerie Queen. And she’s armed only with her wits, determination, a frying pan, a talking toad and the sheep-disease manual of her dearly departed Granny Aching (who may/may not have been a Witch), and oh yes, she also has an entire army of tiny rough-talking war-mongering Nac Mac Feegles (or the titular Wee Free Men) on her side. The evil Faerie Queen won’t know what hits her, right?

Now, I don’t know why I ever skipped the YA division of the Discworld series of books. But I’m damned glad I decided to read this. Tiffany Aching is who I wish I was when I was nine, she’s like the younger version of Mistress Weatherwax (my absolutely favorite witch in the Discworld series). Tiffany knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do in life, and that’s a lot for a nine-year-old kid. She’s a bit of a know-it-all and bossy besides, but I kinda always wanted to be like that 😉 Besides she kinda needed to have that personality in order to keep the little Wee Free Men (who love their alcohol a wee bit too much) in line, as she battles with the Faerie Queen on the Queen’s turf.

And what a turf it is – it’s partly the snow-covered kingdom of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” but it’s been Pratchett-ized so it’s like this nebulous and half-formed re-imagination of people’s most warped dreams and terrifying nightmares where things are half-real and half-dreams. There are monsters and challenges a-plenty for Tiffany, and there are many, many times when you will think that the Queen has won. Still, as with all the Discworld books, the action/suspense is mixed liberally with a generous helping of laugh-out-loud humor. Tiffany acts like the straight character in a movie where everyone else is a little over-the-top and ridiculous. I loved the Wee Free Men, even though it took me a little time to get used to their weird way of speaking (like Irish or Scottish?).

If I have any criticisms, it would be the frequent flashbacks with Tiffany’s Granny Aching, which while they explained a lot, also took the reader out of the story. It was okay, for one or two times, but there seemed to be a whole lot of reminiscence going on.

All in all though, I was wholly entertained with this book (it’s a fun and funny story!), and I highly recommend this one to both the young and old. I have a lot of respect for the young heroine, especially in her final showdown with the Elf Queen with a lot more than her little brother at stake. And I am so totally pumped to read book #2 in the series A Hat Full of Sky next!

The Wee Free Men (Discworld: A Tiffany Aching Adventure) by Terry Pratchett is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition ($6.99) and a Mass Market Paperback ($6.99).

You can also get the book at Barnes & Noble for the same price.

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