The Day The World Went Away – The Shepherd’s Crown

ShepCrowUs witches don’t mourn for very long. We are satisfied with happy memories – they’re there to be cherished.

What would it be like to witness your own funeral? I must admit this rather adolescent train of thought occasionally creeps into my adult daydreaming but I doubt I am the only one. What would people say about you? If you had a choice, how would you sum up your life to your friends and family? What would everyone’s reaction be when your final song is played and it’s “Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell” by Iggy Pop and the Stooges?

It comes as no surprise that there is an elegiac air to The Shepherd’s Crown, the final book in the Discworld series. As we embark over the jump just be warned that from that point onwards, there will be a lot of spoilers. This post will still be here when you have read the novel.

OK? Continue reading →

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Moon Witch Cartridge – I Shall Wear Midnight

I_Shall_Wear_Midnight“It’s like a disease,” Miss Proust said. “It sort of creeps up. It’s in the wind, as if it goes from person to person. Poison goes where poison’s welcome. And there’s always an excuse, isn’t there, to throw a stone at the old lady who looks funny. It’s always easier to blame somebody. And once you’ve called someone a witch, then you’d be amazed how many things you can blame her for.”

Terry Pratchett’s young adult fiction doesn’t spare the reader. His first, Amazing Maurice, was a maelstrom of horror, with cannibalism among that thrown at the reader. It was completely unflinching and quite brilliant for it. I Shall Wear Midnight opens with something equally horrific; a young girl has been beaten so severely by her father that she miscarries. Tiffany has to step in and save Mr Petty from brutal mob justice, before saving him a second time from hanging himself. Continue reading →

Listen, The Snow Is Falling – Wintersmith

WintersmithA witch didn’t do things because they seemed a good idea at the time! That was practically cackling! You had to deal every day with people who were foolish and lazy and untruthful and downright unpleasant, and you could certainly end up thinking that the world would be considerably improved if you gave them a slap. But you didn’t because, as Miss Tick had once explained: a) it would only make the world a better place for a very short time; b) it would then make the world a slightly worse place; and c) you’re not supposed to be as stupid as they are.

The Tiffany Aching novels have been an unexpected delight. Not for any idiotic snobbery about grown-ups reading YA fiction, as one of the Discworld’s endearing strengths is that of a deeply accessible series. I love how it is open and can be loved by anyone – comedy fans, fantasy fans, satire fans or, dare I say it, people who like those three genres and more. However, I felt this meant it was somewhat unnecessary for Pratchett to write a dedicated YA series.

I’m glad my unspoken, irrelevant old opinion was never listened to. Where recent “grown-up” Discworld books like Monstrous Regiment or Thud! have lacked that lightness of touch that features in Pratchett’s best, the morality tales of the Aching novels are a throwback to those early Discworld books that danced in the light fantastic. Continue reading →

Way to Blue – A Hatful of Sky

A_Hat_Full_of_Sky_Cover“We heard a song, it went ‘Twinkle twinkle little star…’ What power! What wondrous power! You can take a billion trillion tons of flaming matter, a furnace of unimaginable strength, and turn it into a little song for children! You build little worlds, little stories, little shells around your minds and that keeps infinity at bay and allows you to wake up in the morning without screaming!”

I was delighted to open another Tiffany novel so soon after finishing The Wee Free Men. Tiffany was an instant fully formed Pratchett character – proud, moral, headstrong, somewhat selfish and a bit full of herself. She was someone who could stand easily alongside Vimes or Weatherwax as great Pratchett characters.

In his two YA books to date, Pratchett has taken classic folk tales, dismantled them and fitted the constituent parts back together with a lot of darkness and not inconsiderable intelligence. They have been among Pratchett’s most neatly plotted and satisfying reads among the entire Discworld series, so I was anxious to see what came next. Continue reading →

Kicker of Elves – The Wee Free Men

Nac_Mac_FeegleNo human could live like this. You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn’t get the milking done. No wonder we dream our way through our lives. To be awake and see it all as it really is…no one could stand that for long.

I always found it odd that Eske, the heroine of Equal Rites, was left in the background of the Discworld after only one book. It was my favourite of the (very) early Pratchett books, full of charm and a sense that he was starting to get things right. But while Granny Weatherwax continued beyond it, Eske remained behind. A shame because her story, as a legendarily powerful wizard, was not finished. Continue reading →