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Book Review: I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38)I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There isn’t really a whole lot to say about the book. Once again Tiffany Aching is threatened by a evil fill-in-the-blank (granted the foe in Wintersmith was more misguided/ill-intentioned than actually evil), once again she gets help from the Feegles (a.k.a. the Wee Free Men), and once again she proves how good of a witch she is even though she’s still quite young (in this book she’s 16) and she doesn’t follow normal witch standards.

Mind you, the book is still rather amusing; it’s still a Discworld novel to the core. One part that sticks out is that the Feegles have taken up snail herding (“Mind ye, the stampedes can be a wee bit embarrassing”). And as you might expect from a experienced author, the writing itself is well done and the story moves at a decent pace.

But to be honest, while I was vaguely interested in how Tiffany would pull through this time, I got bored reading this book because the story is basically the same as the last two. Oh, there are new elements because she’s older, and there were still a couple of small surprises, but all-in-all it’s just Tiffany facing a new ancient evil and showing everybody else up again. There were no real plot twists, the ancient evil was nearly 100% one dimensional, and through it all I never once got the feeling that she wouldn’t win or that she was in true danger.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem. Tiffany has grown in ability so much through the books that at 16 she either is at the level of or is very near the level of Granny Weatherwax, the strongest/best witch in all of Discworld whose age is indeterminate (nobody has dared ask how old she is). It’s like watching a Superman movie: you can’t ever be convinced that the hero in danger, since they’re damn near invincible. Also, in books that feature Granny Weatherwax, when Granny Weatherwax faces a foe she does it using her head, working out the pieces of the puzzle through the book and therefore through the reader. There’s generally a mystery figuring out everything that’s going on, and you get to work it out at the same time Granny Weatherwax is.

With the last few Tiffany Aching books, however, you find out what the evil entity is quite early in the book, and the figuring out and resolution sometimes comes within a single chapter. Up till that point, Tiffany generally doesn’t know what to do, but then in a flash she suddenly knows how to defeat the evil. I guess that’s it too: I’m sick and tired of the foes being some ancient evil. I’d much rather see Tiffany face off against foes like the vampires from Carpe Jugulum, or the bad fairy godmother from Witches Abroad. Those were foes with a personality, a story. The ones Tiffany has faced off against are fairly faceless. In all four of the Tiffany Aching books, the best foe was the first one she faced, the Elf/Fairy Queen. The other three have the barest hint of a true story. They are there simply to be defeated, and that definitely hurt the overall story being told.

I’ve gone on long enough. In conclusion, if you have followed the Tiffany Aching books then you’ll probably want pick this one up if just to continue the story. The story does have humor, and for those who have followed Discworld for a while there are some very interesting references to past novels. But there are much better Discworld novels out there than this rehash of a overused theme.