Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book review- I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight is the 38th book in the Discworld series and the 4th in the Tiffany story arc, which makes it one of the few Young Adult books in the series... although at this point Tiffany is actually the same age as a lot of Pratchett's protagonists; Pratchett writes a lot of books starring teenagers. So while this is a YA book, it reads more like a regular Discworld book than the previous three in this arc.

The Pratchett Wiki page for this book gives a summary of:
A man with no eyes. No eyes at all. Two tunnels in his head ...It's not easy being a witch, and it's certainly not all whizzing about on broomsticks, but Tiffany Aching - teen witch - is doing her best. Until something evil wakes up, something that stirs up all the old stories about nasty old witches, so that just wearing a pointy hat suddenly seems a very bad idea. Worse still, this evil ghost from the past is hunting down one witch in particular. He's hunting for Tiffany. And he's found her...

I put off reading this book for a few weeks (got it for Christmas), and- just like I mentioned doing with Unseen Academicals- found that this was a mistake. I procrastinated reading this one because I've never been much of a fan of the Tiffany books; they're probably my least favorite of the story arcs and I've only read the previous three in this arc once or maybe twice (rare when some of the Discworld books I've read so many times they're falling apart. My battered copy of Soul Music can attest to this). I was never really sure of why this was. I mean, I read Young Adult books with young characters all the time, so that wasn't it. I love this series, so that can't be the problem. After reading this book, I think I realize what the problem was that I had with the first three Tiffany books- they're too... egocentric, I guess? All the Discworld books basically have a main character starring, but the Tiffany ones are only from her point of view. The story doesn't really bounce along outside her direct storyline like happens in all the other DW books, and... well, I get sick of reading about Tiffany after a while. I just don't find her appealing enough of a character to entirely enjoy a book following only her.

While this 4th book in her story arc was written much the same way, I found this one to be a lot less self-centered (I'm still not finding a good word to describe this...). Maybe it's because Tiffany is a bit older? I've always seen her as a character who thinks too highly of herself, but this seems to have lessened now that she's older, which made me actually really like this book. I finished the book in one day, I was so interested to see where it went next.

I think what helped this book out was the fact that it ties into an early Discworld storyline- and, if my theory is correct, possibly a second, as well. I won't get into that here since it's very spoilerish, but if you're curious and don't mind spoilers, I posted about that here. That made this book a lot less all about Tiffany and more how she fits into the grand scheme of the Disc.

This book also gives us a fairly wide range of characters- the witches and the Feegles are there, of course, we get to meet a new witch (or three, I suppose), and the Watch makes an appearance when the book shifts to Ankh-Morpork. And even better- a character who hasn't been around in ages shows up again. I love when this happens; it was like how Adrian showing up in Unseen Academicals made me happy. I really want to spill the beans (I mean, looking up info on this book tells you the character list), but I don't want to ruin it for anyone who wants to be surprised.

This book is definitely close to adult, for all that it's YA. There's not so great subjects that are touched on (mainly abuse of a minor [secondary?] character), but nothing too bad. I have to say that I did skip that section because I'm avoiding that kind of thing, but to anyone else it would probably not be so bad. Just figured I should mention that in the review.

I never thought I'd say this about a Tiffany book, but I'm disappointed that this is going to be the last book in that arc. I can see a new coven of witches forming and that would be a fun read. I'm also going to do something I never thought I would for a Tiffany book- give it five stars. It really is that good!

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