Friday, October 14, 2011

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

I get really excited when a new Terry Pratchett book comes out. I’ve been reading them for years and have them all stacked up on a bookshelf, basically taking up more room than books by any other author (you know, except for maybe Neil Gaiman). Pratchett’s books are a mix of sci-fi and fantasy, and take place in the Discworld. The way this world looks is kind of ridiculously neat. The Discworld is a giant flat world that balances on the backs of four giant elephants that in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle who swims endlessly through space. The books parody a lot of high fantasy while also satirizing politics, art, culture, and society in general. The technology of the Discworld actually evolves from the first book to the most recent, the progression of which is fun to follow throughout. Pratchett has written around forty books in this series (the newest one, Snuff, was just released).

So, it is very exciting when a new book comes out, although it also makes for a little bit of dilemma. Every Terry Pratchett book I have so far is in a nice little pop fiction/grocery store/gas station/paperbook size. Which means I usually don’t buy his new books in hardcover. I wait until they’re in paperback so they can all be nice and also aesthetically pleasing when they are on a small shelf together.

Which is why it is only now that I’m reading I Shall Wear Midnight, a Discworld book published last year that only recently came out in paperback. The novel is aimed at young adults and is the fourth for this age group (fifth if you count The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents). They follow Tiffany Aching, a young witch who lives in the Chalk in the Discworld. There are four novels so far that follow Tiffany, and each is inserted within the larger compendium of Discworld novels.

I sat down and started the book in the morning and finished it in the afternoon. I sort of feel like that is kind of a thing with Discworld books, but this one especially so. The book follows Tiffany as she comes to terms with the repercussions of a very large act of magic that she did in the previous book, which awoke a new enemy that invades her small, everyday world. In the midst of the fantasy, Pratchett has a great sense of the small moments that make up teenage experience. He pays particular attention to Tiffany’s friendship with the Baron’s son, Roland, and the breakdown and distancing that occurs between them. Tiffany’s position in her community is also very carefully detailed – she is at once necessary to the community because she is a witch, but because she is their witch, she can never quite fit in. It is a nice commentary on young adult experience.

The Discworld series in general is one that I follow and get excited about and can’t wait to pick up the next book for. And with this one, I’m a little bit sad I didn’t just go ahead and get the hardcover when it was out, especially since I ordered it on Amazon instead and ended up with a trade paperback, so, um, that did not work. 

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