Monday, October 7, 2013

Read-Along: I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett, Part 1

It’s time to kick off the read-along of the final Tiffany Aching novel, I Shall Wear Midnight.  Tiffany is now almost 16, and the story seems to have become much more adult than in the previous novels.  It’s a little sad to see Tiffany almost grown up, but I feel like this is probably going to allow an even more complicated story.  The questions this time were provided by Lisa of OverTheEffingRainbow, and the discussion will cover chapters 1-6. Next week (which I may post a day late due to camel-riding) will cover chapters 7-10, and the following week will conclude the read-along.

In other news of my blog, I foolishly left the draft of my review for The Dragon’s Path on my home computer, and I am now in Morocco.  There are still some reviews incoming, but they will be of (surprise!) Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone and then Caitlin R. Kiernan’s The Drowning Girl. Anyhow, on with the questions!

So Roland is engaged! ... And being a bit of a 'Baron' towards Tiffany. Oh dear. What do you think of this awkward turn in their 'friendship' in this book?

I am not sure what’s up with him.  I’m wondering if handling his aunts involved him needing to get a “respectable” young lady to marry.  Even his father seems disappointed that he’s off of Tiffany, so it really seems like there must be more than meets the eye here. 

"Rough music..." Even more so than with Wintersmith, it seems this book is tackling darker/more adult issues. What did you think of the way Tiffany handled Mr Petty, and is this darker side a welcome development?

I was very surprised by quite how much more adult the book was, from the very beginning.  I think Tiffany handled the situation as best she could, but it seems like there should have been a better judicial system for the town.  There should be some punishment for assault and the murder of an unborn child that is between exile and lynching.

I think that the one major problem with the way Tiffany handled the situation, though, is that she has no ability to enforce her decisions right now.  She told Mr. Petty to leave town—and he didn’t.  She gets no help from his wife, who just insists he’ll be better, and she has no real authority to force him to leave.  For another thing, she took their child.  If something like child services existed, I think they should definitely have taken Amber.  Again, though, Tiffany only has the authority she gains through confidence and force of will.  If people decide she’s an evil child-kidnapper, then she’s going to have a hard time defending Amber on her own.

The Feegles are back, and this time we see more of Jeannie, their Kelda. She takes in the Pettys' daughter, Amber, after Tiffany deals with Mr Petty. Is this a good idea, or do you think it'll just bring trouble? And what do you make of Jeannie's prediction that more trouble is coming Tiffany's way?

As mentioned above, I think removing Amber from the home was what needed to happen, but I do think it will bring trouble.  People don’t like it when some teenage girl takes their children from them, no matter how justified it seems to be.  I don’t think Tiffany is thinking enough (or at all) about PR.  She assumes her actions will speak for themselves… and they do, but they don’t always say what she intends.

Speaking of Amber, there's something interesting going on with her ... Do you think we might see Amber become a witch? And what do you make of her ability to 'understand' animals?

I hope she becomes a witch.  That would be a nice way for this all to end up for her.  I thought it was interesting that she seemed to specify that it wasn’t so much that Amber was picking up languages, as it was that she could read the meanings behind sounds.  I suppose that would work even for people or creatures that don’t have a proper language, because she can still understand what they mean. 

Tiffany vs. Miss Spruce ... It seems Tiffany is having to deal much more with people's negative views of witchcraft, and her use of it. Do you think we'll see Miss Spruce become more of a problem for Tiffany later?

Yes, I get the impression that prejudice might be the main topic of this book.  Pratchett also worked in a reminder about old Mrs. Snapperly, whose death made such an impression on Tiffany when she was young.  I get the impression that Tiffany doesn’t really appreciate the danger of this kind of prejudice.  She thinks that it’s obvious that she’s only doing good things, and that anyone of intelligence should be able to see that.  She may be right, but unintelligent people are also capable of causing quite a lot of damage.

I thought it was interesting how Tiffany’s interaction with the coachman illustrated another common and frustrating facet of prejudice. His interaction with Tiffany did nothing to convince him his views on witches were wrong. He just decided he’d met an unusual witch.  No matter how many kind, decent witches he meets, I bet he will decide that they are all exceptions, and that all the other witches are nasty and evil.  It seems like prejudice is incredibly resistant to conflicting evidence in that way.

On the other hand, there is the Baron, may he rest in peace ... What did you think of his first and last real conversation with Tiffany?

I thought he seemed like a pretty nice guy, in the end.  He’s been kind of a distant character until now—Granny Aching used to keep him in line, Roland worried about him while barricaded in his room—but it was nice to see him as more of an individual before he left with Death.


  1. I too wish there was some sort of committee or law enforcement or such that could back Tiffany up on removing Amber from that situation, at least until it stabilizes (like by Mr. Petty leaving for good).

    You bring up an interesting point about the coachman. I live in a place that has multiple cultures - primarily Hispanic, Native American, and Caucasian. Too many times I have heard one person or another going on about someone from another ethnic group - how good or cool a person they are, only to end with, not like others of his/her kind. Sigh...

    Sorry I didn't make it around last week. Life has been crazy.

    1. Yeah, there's only so much authority you can get from wearing a witch hat, especially when you're younger than all the people you're trying to manage.

      On the prejudices, those kinds of conversations were really what the coachmen scene made me think of as well.