Last Sunday, I finally got me a copy of the final Tiffany Aching book, I Shall Wear Midnight. What with what happened the day before, I decided to blow off some steam by buying books. It’s been some time since I bought new books, so me and Bern left Fully Booked with three: the already mentioned Pratchett book, Reaper Man (also by Pratchett), and George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. It also took some effort for me not to get a new tarot deck.
I had read all the Tiffany Aching books, except for the first one. For some reason, I was not that inclined to read The Wee Free Men. Eventually I would, if only to complete the series, and maybe I’d realize that my avoidance of that book has no real basis. But not right now.
Tiffany Aching is one of the most appealing Discworld story arcs for me, primarily because I think the protagonist is so appealing. In her books, Tiffany Aching was a young witch that steadily grows in power and experience. While it is required that she does something truly awesome at the climax of every book, for most of her story, she only does very ordinary things.
Discworld witches are the very practical village wise women: they help the ill and invalid, settle disputes, assist in births, and accompany the dying. They work on things that needs to be done, especially those things nobody else thinks needs to be doing. Because of this, Pratchett could deftly show what humanity truly is: petty, selfish, proud, fragile, sympathetic and dignified.
There was still that in I Shall Wear Midnight. And yet, while the two books that preceded it had a relatively slow but certain pacing, the final book was brisk and almost manic — like a man walking rather quickly because he was holding in his pee. Midnight had the same feel as the last Harry Potter book: that too many details were put in a book, so the plot had to hurtle in order to accommodate everything. It was handled much better than the way Rowling did, however, since Pratchett has had more books that successfully juggled multiple plot threads in one novel.
Maybe the pacing was intentional. Midnight featured several characters from the main Discworld continuity, as if tying the Tiffany Aching books to the rest of the Discworld story arcs. And so, the books pacing matches the pacing of the more “adult” Discworld books. Many of the themes in Midnight are also decidedly more “adult”, reflecting how Tiffany is already at the cusp of adulthood.
Speaking of continuity, as much as a love Sir Pterry and his books, one of his most obvious weaknesses is continuity. He has admitted this on various occasions, and even created a book to officially explain the inconsistencies within the Discworld stories. But even within the same book, one could spot some minor lapses.
I guess I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I did. It may be the heightened anticipation. It may be the spoilers I’ve encountered months before I finally read the book. It may be that I am sad the series has finally ended. And I’m annoyed with myself for being kind about this last book.