Rating: 5 out of 5
The Tiffany Aching is a young apprentice witch in Terry Pratchetts young adult series. She lives in a sheep growing region on the Discworld called The Chalk, is an expert cheese maker, and a witch. She is smart, kind, practical, and a fast learner. This series follows her growing up and learning to be a witch and an adult.
We first meet Tiffany in The Wee Free Men age 9 living on her family's farm and working hard making cheese. When her brother is kidnapped by the faerie queen she goes on an adventure to rescue him with her new friends the Nac Mac Feegle.
Her story continues into A Hat Full Of Sky and we see 11 year old Tiffany living in Lancre as an apprentice witch to Miss Level when Tiffany learns to borrow and "exit" her body she finds a dark creature is waiting, ready to take over her body. Then things go really wrong.
The in Wintersmith 13 year old Tiffany is in her work experience phase of being an apprentice witch and she has a problem, the Wintersmith has developed a crush on her and he wants Tiffany to stay with him forever in Winter.
Finally in I Shall Wear Midnight Tiffany has completed her apprenticeship and now lives back in her home town as the resident witch for the Chalk. But a terrible creature is hunting her down and if he wins it will mean the destruction of witches in Discworld.
So that is the four books in a nutshell.
Tiffany is a wonderful character, she does "sound" a lot older then the average girl her age but this is explained by saying a witch does tend to be older then her peers due to the life ecperiences she has even by the age of 16. Even so, a smart intelligent 13 year old girl is still going to notice boys and get giggly. Tiffany doesn't really do giggly. But she still makes silly mistakes as anyone would do as a teen and learning. She goes from a world where she had very few friends and was an outcast, to a world where she is accepted, has friends and is challenged.
But having said that I think she is a fantastic role model for young girls and very relatable. Well I would have related to her as a teen :)
The Nac Mac Feegles usually steal the show (and everything else around the show including the audience). They are the biggest source of humour in these books and are the other main characters who are with Tiffany through thick and thin in the series. I love the Nac Mac Feegles and would love to have some of them in my life. At the very least they would make you smile, oh and you are not really supposed to understand them fully. I wonder sometimes, briefly, if Terry Pratchett writes the Nac Mac Feegles lines when drunk.
Other characters worth really noting come from the main Discworld series appear over the course of the books make an appearance. Mostly other witches such as Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. But we also meet Captain Carrot, Angua and Wee Mad Arthur (a Nac Mac Feegle raised as a Gnome and living in the cit as a officer of the watch).
I liked the way Pratchett took Tiffany through the series. It happens logically and she doesnt miraculously gain a power or knowledge for no apparent reason. In each book there is a lesson Tiffany learns. In Book 1 she learns to do what needs to be done; Book 2 she learns about the responsibility of power; Book 3 she learns about consequences of actions (and owning up and fixing them), and book 4 that you need to balance and treat people with respect.
There is a strong theme about working hard, friendship, common sense and believing in yourself. The witches in the Discworld are great problem solvers and believe in giving things a crack at yourself.
There is no "slow" book in this series. No book that left me thinking "well that book really didn't add any value to the series". The books do get darker as the books progress but never get really scary. The darkness or rather seriousness of the books reflect Tiffany's struggles and challenges as well as her growing up.
Just a short note book four does deal with domestic violence, suicide, child abuse, infanticide, mob justice and murder (the first four in the first couple of chapters). While all very serious topics I felt the dealt with in a way that would raise this issues without completely terrifying the teenager. But if your child is younger then 16, you may want to have a think about waiting for them till they are older or have a discussion with them about these topics (I would also suggest reading it yourself to gauge how you should approach it). It is not very confronting as Pratchett doesn't go into massive detail but it is there and it is discussed between Tiffany and her dad.
I Shall Wear Midnight has a wonderful ending which really wrapped up the series. It was both an ending and a beginning. Usually I hate epilogues to a series as they rarely add value to the series and ruin an otherwise awesome ending (Harry Potter series and Hunger Games series I am looking at you), but this epilogue didn't make me feel that way. I thought it rounded off the over all ending very well, plus it wasn't soppy, or over done. I loved it in short.
Future of the Series
I have no idea if Terry Pratchett will write any more about Tiffany Aching. I really hope he does even if he turns it into a proper Discworld book (as in part of the adult main series). We got a fascinating glimpse into Tiffany's future and I want to know more about her!
I am totally biased as I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, Terry Practhett. The man can do no wrong in my eyes. Having said that this is still a wonderful series and I would recommend this as a great starter series for young (or even new to Practhett), soon to be Pratchett fans. Even girls aged between 9-16 who love magic and fantasy will also no doubt love this series.
“Even if it's not your fault, it's your responsibility.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
“I'm trying to have a moment o' existential dreed here, right? Crivens, it's a puir lookout if a man canna feel the chilly winds o' fate lashing aroound his netheres wi'out folks telling him he's deid, eh?” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
“Whut's the plan, Rob?" said one of them. "Okay, lads, this is what we'll do. As soon as we see somethin', we'll attack it. Right?" This caused a cheer. "Ach, 'tis a good plan," said Daft Wullie.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men
“You’d better tell me what you know, toad,” said Tiffany. “Miss Tick isn’t here. I am.” “Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.” “Why?” “There’s no one to stop them.” There was silence for a moment. “There’s me,” said Tiffany.” ― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men
“I’m not superstitious. I’m a witch. Witches aren’t superstitious. We are what people are superstitious of.” ― Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith
“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.” ― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight: A Story Of Discworld
“Oh, I feel very angry a lot of the time," said Tiffany, "but I just put it away somewhere until I can do something useful with it.” ― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight: A Story Of Discworld
“I know it’s not the right thing to say to a lady, miss, but you are sweating like a pig!" "My mother always said that horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies merely glow…" "Is that so? Well, miss, you are glowing like a pig!” ― Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight: A Story Of Discworld