My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Tiffany Aching books are a subset of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, something that is still evolving and growing and branches off into many different tangents. I hadn't read any of them, despite the fact that so many of my friends whose reading opinions I value seem to really love them. You see, I equate Terry Pratchett in my mind with Douglas Adams, that somewhat fantastical lightly humorous writer, with the kind of humor where I say to myself, "Oh, clever you," but don't actually laugh. Anyway, Pratchett is quite similar to that, so I wasn't sure I was going to be interested in any of his universes.
I kept hearing about the Tiffany Aching books though, which can be read without necessarily understanding the Discworld universe. They start with The Wee Free Men, where Tiffany first discovers she is a witch and saves her little brother with a frying pan. She just has a knack for it, and is taken under a local witch's wing for mentoring, which really starts in the second book, A Hat Full of Sky. She strikes out for herself, including making a lot of mistakes, in Wintersmith (which is probably my favorite of the four), and we end up with her almost at adulthood by the last one, I Shall Wear Midnight.
What I like about these books:
- An interesting setting, even within the world of the books. Since Tiffany comes from "the chalk," she breaks a lot of the stereotypes that even the witches have.
- She has other interests. And she makes damn good cheese.
- The mundane nature of her work. It isn't all impressive scales and saving people. It is wiping bums and sheltering an abused wife. It reads as very realistic despite the magic. Which is kind of the point.
- The humor is tolerable. So is the pain. The reader gets access to what Tiffany feels, which she hides pretty successfully from her parents and from the people in the countryside.
- The wee free men. I have to admit that I was not won over by them until book 4, and they drove me to annoyance quite a bit until then.