Terry Pratchett – Carpe Jugulum

Apparently, I now suffer severe mood swings when I don’t read enough Terry Pratchett. So it was about time I picked up the last unread novel about the Lancre witches and spent a few evenings giggling merrily away with a Pratchett book. Now that the fifth Tiffany Aching book has been anounced (SO MUCH HAPPINESS!) I don’t even have to feel bad about not having any more witches books to read.

carpe jugulumCARPE JUGULUM
by Terry Pratchett

Published by:  Corgi, 1998
Paperback: 416 pages
Series: Discworld #23
My rating: 7/10

First sentence: Through the shredded black clouds a fire moved like a dying star, falling back to earth – the earth, that is, of the Discworld – but unlike any star had ever done before, it sometimes managed to steer its fall, sometimes rising, sometimes twisting, but inevitably heading down.

Mightily Oats has not picked a good time to be priest. He thought he was there for a simple little religious ceremony. Now he’s caught up in a war between vampires and witches, and he’s not sure there is a right side. There’s the witches — Agnes, Magrat, Nanny Ogg, and the formidable Granny Weatherwax… And the vampires: the stakes are high but they’re intelligent — not easily got rid of with a garlic enema or going to the window and saying “I don’t know about you, but isn’t it a bit stuffy in here?” They’ve got style and fancy waistcoats. They’re out of the casket and want a bite of the future.

There’s something to be said for vampires that don’t glitter. Who would have ever suspected that this will be among the criteria by which I judge my vampire fiction? But unsurprising, Terry Pratchett’s vampires don’t only arrive in Lancre with a distinct lack of glitter, they also don’t mind garlic, holy water, and daylight. It’s quite a challenge for the four witches currently residing in the Ramtops, especially with Granny disappeared…

I love the Lancre witches. On many occasions have I said that I hope to become a Granny Weatherwax or a Nanny Ogg when I’m old (I realise they are vastly different people and I suspect I am more of a Nanny but I’ll take what I can get). With Granny gone for a large part of the book, Sir Terry had his hooks firmly set into me. After all, a Lancre without a Weatherwax is just not right. In her stead, the Quite Reverend Mightily Oats has arrived and brings with him a lot of discussion about religion, belief, and all things holy. With everything Terry Pratchett writes, there are wonderful bits of wisdom in everything Granny says. The nature of good and evil is no exception.

There’s no grays, only white that’s gone grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.

This book also marks the first appearance of the Nac Mac Feegle, that race of pictsies so prominent in the Tiffany Aching books. King Verence, after having his mind muddled up by vampires, pays a visit to the local kelda and we get our first taste of the crazy, brawling and drinking Feegles. In addition to that, Count Magpyr has brought his very modern vampire family to settle down in Lancre. Magrat is dealing with her newborn, Agnes still struggles with her split personality, and Hodgesaaargh is hunting a phoenix…

If you think that’s a bit much then I agree. Even with prior Discworld knowledge, there were too many characters and too many side-plots going on in Carpe Jugulum. There’s a reason why the Lancre witches always try to remain a trio. Hopping back and forth between the vampires’ point of view, one of the witches, Mightily Oats, and the vampires’ servant Igor, it all got a bit chaotic. Following the plot is no problem when you know who everybody is, but every time I settled into one plot string comfortably, I was ripped out for a quick visit to another character. These chapter-like breaks (as you know, Discworld novels don’t have chapters) came too often and too quickly.

carpe jugulum french

Normally, the witches books leave me an emotional wreck. The lack of structure and frequent POV hopping prevented this from happening here. Sure, Granny Weatherwax standing on the edge and being gone for most of the beginning of the book was tough. She is such an essential part of Lancre – and Discworld, really – that her absence was all the more painful.

One thing you will always get, however, is humor. Pratchett’s vampires are dangerous and scary, but they also have their quirks. Agnes and Perdita’s interactions, as well as Nanny Ogg just being Nanny Ogg make for more than enough scenes to make you laugh. The stuff that old lady carries around in her stockings leg is astounding.

Why are vampires always so stupid? As if wearing evening dress all day wasn’t a dead givaway, why do they choose to live in old castles which offer so much in the way of ways to defeat a vampire, like easily torn curtains and wall decorations that can readily be twisted into religious symbol? Do they really think that spelling their name backward fools anyone?

I wish there had been more focus in this book, a few characters could even have been cut, and it would have been an excellent read. The way it is, it’s “only” a very good book. Not my favorite Discworld book and probably my least favorite witches novel. Which, all things considered, is not saying very much because the worst book Terry Pratchett can produce is still better than the best many other authors do.

RATING: 7/10  – Very good

divider1The Witches of Lancre:

  1. carpe jugulum frenchEqual Rites
  2. Wyrd Sisters
  3. Witches Abroad
  4. Lords and Ladies
  5. Maskerade
  6. Carpe Jugulum
  7. Tiffany Aching
    1. The Wee Free Men
    2. A Hat Full of Sky
    3. Wintersmith
    4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett – Lords and Ladies

By now, I can’t even imagine a world without Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax. There is also a new Terry Pratchett non-fiction collection coming out in October which I’m thinking of pre-ordering. It’s funny how this year started with me being all in love with Catherynne M. Valente and now I can’t get away from Discworld. This is the joy of being a non-professional blogger. Because it means I can read as many Discworld books in a row as I want. And if I do ever get bored, nobody can force me to continue. And these books aren’t going anywhere.

lords and ladies1LORDS AND LADIES
by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Corgi, 2013 (1992)
ISBN: 0552167525
Paperback: 400 pages
Series: Discworld #14
My rating: 8,5/10

First sentence: Now read on…
When does it start?

The fairies are back – but this time they don’t just want your teeth.
It’s Midsummer Night – no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there’s more than one reality at play, too much dreaming can make the walls between them come tumbling down. Unfortunately there’s usually a damned good reason for there being walls between them in the first place – to keep things out. Things who want to make mischief and play havoc with the natural order.
Granny Weatherwax and her tiny coven are up against real elves. And even in a world of dwarfs, wizards, trolls, Morris dancers and the odd orang-utan, this is going to cause real trouble. With lots of hey-nonny-nonny and blood all over the place.

Magrat is getting married. Readers may have suspected it since Wyrd Sisters but personally, I didn’t believe that either she or Verence II would work up the courage to ask one another. Which is why matters are conveniently already arranged when Magrat returns home with Granny and Nanny. Now she has to learn proper queening, which is enough work as it is, but in addition, there are strange things going on at the standing stones in the woods. And around midsummer night, the walls between worlds are especially thin. Things might break through…

This was a particularly fun Discworld novel. I never liked Magrat as much as I did in Lords and Ladies and even though I know that she will be replaced by Agnes Nitt (she of the angelic voice, large body, and personality disorder), I believe that I will end up missing Magrat Garlick. That quiet, too-nice-for-her-own-good girl kicked some serious fairy butt!

I was also pleased to discover a different side to Granny Weatherwax. She always seems so aloof, so unconcerned about her private life and especially all things romantic (and I like her that way) but the peculiar kind of havoc wrought by the fairies shows us that, at the very least, Granny could have led a very different life. But whatever may or may not have been, we still get to enjoy Granny’s wonderful wit and incredible practicality.

‘Some­one got killed up here.’ [said Granny]
‘Oh, no,’ moaned Nanny Ogg.
‘A tall man. He had one leg longer’n the other. And a beard. He was prob­a­bly a hunter.’
‘How’d you know all that?’
‘I just trod on ’im.’

You may not guess immediately from the title – I didn’t – but the Lords and Ladies it refers to are fairies. Now I’ve always had a soft spot for fairies, but for some reason, the Disney version never did it for me. I like the mysterious, dark ones that aren’t all bad but most certainly aren’t all good either (the real Tinkerbell is still one of my favorites). Terry Pratchett ditched the wish-fulfilling, glittering good fairies and instead opted for a seductive, dangerous, alluring, and most importantly, stylish kind of fairie folk. The way they are set up makes them more creepy than funny but as soon as people decide to fight back, there are a few absolutely hilarious scenes involving fairies, Magrat, and Greebo. I don’t think I need to say any more.

lords and ladies cover image

Comparing the Witches books to each other (as I inadvertently do), I believe this was also one of the better crafted ones. The plot lines start out seemingly unconnected but run together towards a fantastic ending. Ridcully and Ponder Stibbons make an appearance, and the Librarian of Unseen University saves the day more than once. I’m still not too fond of the wizards, but I’ll take the certainly-not-a-monkey and his exclamations of “Ook.” any time to spice up the plot. The fact that the storylines do converge helps flesh out Discworld as a whole and makes the place feel more real. Without actually going to Ankh-Morpork, with the wizards visiting Lancre, we are reminded that even in the Witches’ storyline, Discworld is a large place where lots of things happen at the same time. Just not necessarily all in the same place.

Given that I still have no idea how big exaclty Discworld is supposed to be, it also came as a bit of a surprise to find out that some characters knew each other from “way back when”. In one clever stroke, Terry Pratchett breathes life into his world, its mythology, and its characters. All of this is achieved without long expositions or boring info-dumps. After all, the characters know who they are and how their world works. We have to figure it out from the context – something I immensely enjoy and that far too few authors trust their readers to manage.  Thanks again, Sir Terry, for believing that your readers have the ability to think for themselves.

As you see, I have very little to complain about. The only thing that makes me sad at this point is that I only have one more Witches novel to look forward to (I hear there will be vampires). Carpe Jugulum will have to wait a litte, though, because a few days ago I started listening to the audiobook of Making Money. I had almost forgotten how much I like ex-swinder and now Postmaster General Moist von Lipwig.


The Witches novels (Discworld):

  1. Equal Rites
  2. Wyrd Sisters
  3. Witches Abroad
  4. Lords and Ladies
  5. Maskerade
  6. Carpe Jugulum
  7. Tiffany Aching (sub-series)
    1. The Wee Free Men
    2. A Hat Full of Sky
    3. Wintersmith
    4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett – Witches Abroad

It appears that, despite my reading resolutions, half a dozen ongoing challenges, and recommendations from friends and fellow bloggers, I am making my way through the Discworld series without so much as a pit stop. So it will come as no surprise that, after jumping around in the series rather wildly, I picked up the next (chronological) Witches novel.
When Terry Pratchett says “Witches are abroad”, they literally go abroad. With Granny Weatherwax’s practicality and Nanny Ogg’s immesurable knowledge of how to say things in “foreign”, what could possibly go wrong…?

witches abroad1WITCHES ABROAD
by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Corgi, 2013 (1991)
ISBN: 0552167509
Paperback: 368 pages
Series: Discworld #12
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: This is the Discworld, which travels through space on the back of four elephants which themselves stand on the shell of Great A’Tuin, the sky turtle.

It seemed an easy job . . . After all, how difficult could it be to make sure that a servant girl doesn’t marry a prince?
But for the witches Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick, travelling to the distant city of Genua, things are never that simple. Servant girls have to marry the prince. That’s what life is all about. You can’t fight a Happy Ending. At least — up until now.

It’s fairy tale time. If you think that Witches are the only female magic-users on the Discworld, you forget a very important branch – fairy godmothers. Young Magrat inherits one late fairy godmother’s wand and the job that comes with it. There is a princess-turned-scullery-maid in Genua who must be kept from marrying the prince. Of course, this is Terry Pratchett, so expect every single fairy tale to be turned on its head, every cliché subverted, and every witch in Granny Weatherwax’s coven to be smart enough to see the bigger picture and realise that a Happy Ending isn’t necessarily what’s in the story book.

This is part travelogue, part mystery, and part crazy fairy tale. When the witches set off on their broomsticks and fly to Genua, there is much fun to be had. Little things like Nanny Ogg’s travel provisions, the fact that she brings Greebo, the cat, along, and Granny’s broomstick trouble make the journey all the more delightful. I was particularly enchanted and amused by Nanny’s ability to speak “foreign” and (more or less) translate words into English. On one of their stops, Granny Weatherwax once more shows her skill in playing cards, this time the famous Cripple Mr. Onion. Also, Nanny Ogg accidentally invents postcards and the little notes she sends home to her son Jason are hilarious. Misspelled words included.

Nanny Ogg sent a num­ber of cards home to her fam­ily, not a sin­gle one of which got back be­fore she did. This is tra­di­tional, and hap­pens every­where in the uni­verse.

witches abroad full cover

Terry Pratchett knows his fairy tales. While this Discworld book focuses mainly on Cinderella, influences of other well-known and not so well-known stories slip into the witches’ adventure. Take Mrs Gogol’s house, for example. You can see it in the (very green!) full cover illustration above. Anyone who’s ever heard of Baba Yaga will recognise that house on chicken’s legs immediately.

But even if you’re not a friend of fairy tales, classic or obscure, there are many more things to amuse and delight. If you’ve ever wondered, for example, if Discoworld had its own Casanova, search no longer. That is all I will say on the subject because he is best enjoyed without bias. I also loved Discworld’s take on racism. There is none. Because the inhabitants are too busy with speciism, nobody cares what color your skin is, just so long as you’re not a goblin. Of course, this is meant to be taken with a grain of salt, but I believe it shows Pratchett’s amazing gift when hiding real-world issues in Discworld without wielding the morality hammer. Sometimes when I read his books I feel that he just gets it.

Another pleasant surprise was that we find out a bit about Granny Weatherwax’s family and her upbringing. She is still a mysterious (and absolutely wonderful) character, but I believe she became much more human in this novel. Nobody needs worry, though. She is still a fond user of “headology” and her success rate remains incredible.

Some­times Ma­grat re­ally won­dered about the oth­ers’ com­mit­ment to witch­craft. Half the time they didn’t seem to bother.
Take med­i­cine, for ex­am­ple … Granny just gave peo­ple a bot­tle of coloured water and told them they felt a lot bet­ter.
And what was so an­noy­ing was that they often did.
Where was the witch­craft in that?

Having read Maskerade first, I had assumed certain things as facts without asking myself where they came from. Here was the genesis of one character’s transformation and it goes to show the author’s talent. I didn’t feel like anything was spoiled. Sure, I knew beforehand what would happen to the character but going back in time felt more like a privilege and a pleasure rather than catching up on a spoiled ending. Well done, Sir Terry!

I am getting to the point where I try (in my head) to rank the Discworld novels I have read so far. Tiffany Aching is still way ahead of anyone else, but Witches Abroad may just be my favorite Witches book yet. Let’s see if Lords and Ladies can kick it off its throne. Did I mention I’m already halfway through that one? What I’m saying is: Read the Discworld books.

RATING: 8 –  Excellent

divider1The Witches novels (Discworld):

  1. Equal Ritesgranny and nanny
  2. Wyrd Sisters
  3. Witches Abroad
  4. Lords and Ladies
  5. Maskerade
  6. Carpe Jugulum
  7. Tiffany Aching (sub-series)
    1. The Wee Free Men
    2. A Hat Full of Sky
    3. Wintersmith
    4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett – Wyrd Sisters

Yes, yes. It’s me and those witches again. The more Discworld books I read, the more I want to be like Granny Weatherwax and/or Nanny Ogg when I’m old. They are the coolest old ladies I’ve ever read about and I can’t get enough of them. Even if this wasn’t my favorite Discworld novel, I still enjoyed myself enormously.

wyrd sisters1WYRD SISTERS
by Terry Pratchet

Published by: Corgi, 2012 (1988)
ISBN: 0552166642
Paperback: 368 pages
Series: Discworld #6
My rating: 6,5/10

First sentence: The wind howled.

Things like crowns had a troublesome effect on clever folks; it was best to leave all the reigning to the kind of people whose eyebrows met in the middle.

Three witches gathered on a lonely heath. A king cruelly murdered, his throne usurped by his ambitious cousin. A child heir and the crown of the kingdom, both missing.
Witches don’t have these kind of dynastic problems themselves – in fact, they don’t have leaders. Granny Weatherwax was the most highly-regarded of the leaders they didn’t have. But even she found that meddling in royal politics was a lot more complicated than certain playwrights would have you believe, particularly when the blood on your hands just won’t wash off and you’re facing a future with knives in it…

The German title for this early Discworld novel is MacBest and it should give you a pretty good idea of the theme Terry Pratchett tackles in this one. There are three witches and thespians, destiny and murdered kings, bubbling cauldrons and a clever fool – and of course Greebo, the cat.

When Granny, Nanny, and Magrat’s meeting is interrupted, they find themselves with an infant and a crown on their hands. Since witches don’t meddle in politics, they find a safe place for both child and crown – a travelling troupe of actors whose fake crowns are much more grand than the real one now hidden among their props. This sets the stage for the second Witches novel on Discworld.

“Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things.”

I am repeating myself but no story involving Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax will ever be truly bad. The strange thing is that I got to know them in reverse. I remember Granny most clearly as a side character in the (brilliant!) Tiffany Aching books. Going back to the beginning, I was curious to see whether she has always been the way she is or whether the author tweaked her personality along the way. I was incredibly happy to find good old, cranky Granny Weatherwax, just as I remembered her (from the future… sort of). The same goes for Nanny Ogg, who just makes me happy. I’m thinking of printing a poster of Nanny Ogg and Greebo to hang on my wall.

wyrd sisters full cover

While I liked most of the side characters, a lot of them were left rather shallow or were thrown in for a good laugh of two. Unlike the later Discworld novels, this one was more fun and less depth. There is nothing wrong with that. Not every novel needs to have a deep core that will leave you thinking for months later. Honestly, watching Granny Weatherwax in a dungeon, inquiring about the various torture devices, was more fun than I ever would have thought.

Ma­grat tried. Every morn­ing her hair was long, thick and blond, but by the evening it had al­ways re­turned to its nor­mal wor­ried frizz. To ame­lio­rate the ef­fect she had tried to plait vi­o­lets and cowslips in it. The re­sult was not all she had hoped. It gave the im­pres­sion that a win­dow box had fallen on her head.

Enough praise for Granny and Nanny. This was my first novel involving Magrat and I’m not a fan. I enjoyed the humor at her cost (yes, I’m mean that way) and she was a nice anchor of normality when Granny and Nanny had their banter going, but I didn’t really connect with her the way I did with other characters. My guess is that it’s just a matter of taste because she was a well-written, rounded character, if somewhat too fond of “occult jewellery”.

The only fault I can find with this novel is that the plot is a bit of a mess at times, and that it simply isn’t as good as what Pratchett writes now. And that’s rather a reason to be happy. If an author publishes his best work young and never manages to surpass it, it will be a sad day for us readers. Terry Pratchett’s development can be traced through his Discworld novels. So while I didn’t fall head over heels in love with Wyrd Sisters, it was a fun light read that shows Pratchett’s cleverness, even if it doesn’t do it as well as his newer books.

RATING: 6,5/10  –  Quite good.

divider1Second opinions:

Terry Pratchett – Maskerade

Discworld has taken a hold of me. It is a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants who, in turn, are standing on the back of a giant turtle going through space. It may have taken me a few years to fully understand Sir Terry’s brilliance, but now that I have discovered it, I find it hard to read anything else…

by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Corgi (1995)
ISBN: 0552167567
Paperback: 381 pages
Series: Discworld #18
My rating: 8/10

First sentence: The wind howled.

‘I thought: opera, how hard can it be? Songs. Pretty girls dancing. Nice scenery. Lots of people handing over cash. Got to be better than the cut-throat world of yoghurt, I thought. Now everwhere I go there’s…’
Death, to be precise. And plenty of it. In unpleasant variations. This isn’t real life – it’s worse. This is the Opera House, Ankh-Morpork…a huge, rambling building, where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by a strangely-familiar evil mastermind in a mask and evening dress, with a penchant for lurking in shadows, occasional murder, and sending little notes full of maniacal laughter and exclamation marks. Opera can do that to a man.
But Granny Weatherwax, Discworld’s most famous witch, is in the audience. And she doesn’t hold with that sort of thing. So there’s going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evenin’s entertainment with murders you can really hum…). And the show MUST go on.

Terry Pratchett takes on many things in his ongoing Discworld series. The Ankh-Morpork opera is not all that different from opera in our world as anybody who has ever been to the theater will see. But this isn’t just a book that makes fun of opera and the mentality of The show must go on! This is what would happen if The Phantom of the Opera were set in Discworld… with Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg right in the middle of it. Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

I have read Gaston Leroux’s novel, I know the musical songs, and I have seen the movie (with Gerard Butler as the phantom) and while you don’t need any knowledge of the original story to enjoy Terry Pratchett’s version, a handful of jokes and remarks made me giggle in particular because I remembered the original phantom. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

maskerade cover

Nanny and Granny are in need of a third witch to complete their coven. They feel that something is missing with just the two of them sitting on top of each other. Agnes Nitt seems a promising young girl, if not very gifted in the looks department, and she would make a first class witch. But Agnes has other plans. Calling herself Perdita X. Nitt – the X is for mystery –  she plans to make a name for herself at the opera. However, people there all agree that she has “great personality” and “good hair” but can’t really be put on stage where people can see her. Christine, the young, blonde, and thin girl, on the other hand, may be an awful singer but has exactly the kind of “stage presence” the directors are looking for.  Terry Pratchett has a talent for dealing with issues without overwhelming his readers or lecturing them. Agnes is fat. And – judging by the reactions she gets from other characters – quite ugly. But she has the voice of an angel and the heart of a witch, and so I found myself caring about her from the first moment onward. It can’t be argued that she suffers because of her looks and that some doors will always remain firmly closed to her.

nanny ogg stampWhen the resident opera ghost starts killing people, Agnes spends more time trying to figure out who the ghost is than worrying about her own career. As do Granny Weatherwax and the inimitable Nanny Ogg. I haven’t seen much of Nanny, as she only appears in the last Tiffany Aching book as a side character, but oh gods do I love her. Who wouldn’t love an old, round lady who keeps her money up her knickers and lives with a cat like Greebo? The banter the old witches have going on was especially fun to read. With those two, I don’t even need a plot.

But Pratchett wouldn’t be Pratchett if he let us down. There is a story here and it is not only a whodunit. Figuring out who exactly the ghost is wasn’t all that difficult but there are other questions that need answering, and I personally needed Granny’s help with that. I was also delighted with the cameos by the City Watch and the Librarian from the Unseen University. Discworld feels like such a rich and vibrant place that becomes real in your head and when these guys show up unexpectedly, it’s like old friends come visit you by surprise. I haven’t even read half the Discworld novels and already I couldn’t tell you anymore who my favorite character is.

EDIT: I completely forgot to mention the best poker game I’ve ever read about. Granny Weatherwax plays poker against Death for the soul of a sick child. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time and it was one of those scenes that was incredibly touching at the same time. Ah, Death… you make everything seem kind of okay.

Whether I’ll turn out to like the witches more, or Death, or the City Watch, there is one thing I now know for sure. Discoworld is a feel-good place, even though bad things happen there as much as anywhere (if not more). Make a note for reading slumps or bad times or terrible weather. Because I know where I’ll be when either of these happen…

RATING: 8/10  –  Excellent!

Something I’ve been thinking about lately: The reason I picked this (quite random) Discworld novel was actually a bit of an experiment. When I read the first Death novel (Mort), then the first witches novel (Equal Rites) and then the first guards novel (Guards! Guards!), I was entertained but never really hooked enough to call myself a Pratchett or Discworld fan. Then – as my careful readers will remember – Tiffany Aching happened and I was all afire. Now I saw two possible reasons for my change of heart. Either, when I first picked up the books mentioned above, I was too young to fully grasp how brilliantly Terry Pratchett writes satirical, hilarious, yet deep novels. Or the reason is that the older Discworld novels simply weren’t that good. I went for the witches because duh, and I went for the 18th Discworld book because it is slightly older but not one of the very first ones, to see how my theory would hold up.

I now blame myself completely and intend to re-read all the Discworld books I read when I was younger. Terry Pratchett is a genius and a master storyteller and I am quite glad that I still have a ton of his books to read. The upcoming one – Raising Steam – sounds like a blast.


The Discworld Series:

  1. The Colour of Magic
  2. The Light Fantastic
  3. Equal Rites
  4. Mort
  5. Sourcery
  6. Wyrd Sisters
  7. Pyramids
  8. Guards! Guards!
  9. Eric
  10. Moving Pictures
  11. Reaper Man
  12. Witches Abroad
  13. Small Gods
  14. Lords and Ladies
  15. Men at Arms
  16. Soul Music
  17. Interesting Times
  18. Maskerade
  19. Feet of Clay
  20. Hogfather
  21. Jingo
  22. The Last Continent
  23. Carpe Jugulum
  24. The Fifth Elephant
  25. The Truth
  26. Thief of Time
  27. The Last Hero
  28. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
  29. Night Watch
  30. The Wee Free Men
  31. Monstrous Regiment
  32. A Hat Full of Sky
  33. Going Postal
  34. Thud!
  35. Wintersmith
  36. Making Money
  37. Unseen Academicals
  38. I Shall Wear Midnight
  39. Snuff
  40. Raising Steam

Terry Pratchett – I Shall Wear Midnight

This is it. Tiffany Aching’s story is over, at least for now. Terry Pratchett said in an interview that, were he ever to continue telling Tiffany Aching’s story, the next book would have to be an adult novel because Tiffany would be grown up. Now that’s a thought I like. That girl kicked ass when she was nine and picked up a frying pan, just imagine what she can do as a fully-grown witch…

i shall wear midnight2I SHALL WEAR MIDNIGHT
by Terry Pratchett

Published in: Corgi Childrens, 2010
ISBN: 9780552555593
Paperback: 424 pages
Series: Tiffany Aching #4
Discworld #38

My rating: 9/10

First sentence: Why was it, Tiffany Aching wondered, that people liked noise so much?

It starts with whispers.
Then someone picks up a stone.
Finally, the fires begin.
When people turn on witches, the innocents suffer. . . .
Tiffany Aching has spent years studying with senior witches, and now she is on her own. As the witch of the Chalk, she performs the bits of witchcraft that aren’t sparkly, aren’t fun, don’t involve any kind of wand, and that people seldom ever hear about: She does the unglamorous work of caring for the needy.
But someone or something is igniting fear, inculcating dark thoughts and angry murmurs against witches. Aided by her tiny blue allies, the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must find the source of this unrest and defeat the evil at its root before it takes her life. Because if Tiffany falls, the whole Chalk falls with her.
Chilling drama combines with laugh-out-loud humor and searing insight as beloved and bestselling author Terry Pratchett tells the high-stakes story of a young witch who stands in the gap between good and evil.

The Discworld sub-series about the young apprentice witch Tiffany Aching has been consistently good, but was never more touching than in this final volume. As Tiffany grows older, so do the themes the author explores. Most striking, this book takes a very dark turn and recounts some of the more terrible things human beings are capable of doing. Tiffany, however, takes these things with her usual calm and the knowledge that she is doing the best she can, as any good witch would. While the first books can be put into children’s hands without second thoughts, there was one scene in particular in I Shall Wear Midnight that I found shocking, even as a grown-up. When a young girl, who is pregnant, is beaten by her father so violently that she loses the child, Tiffany is the one who will try to make things right. Or as right as they can be in such a situation. Clearly, being a witch of almost-sixteen means trodding darker territory than ever before.

In the way he does so well, Terry Pratchett manages to lift his readers’ moods by being absolutely hilarious. While I loved Tiffany’s visit to the actual Boffo, there were numerous moments that elicited chuckles, laughter, and sometimes hysterical giggling on my part. I feel like I’m repeating myself because, honestly, Pratchett does what he’s been doing for the last few books, and does it as well – if not better. While Discworld is a funny place, it is usually the little moments of wisdom, of bravery and kindness, that get to me and make these books so memorable.

And so, because nobody in the castle had ever been very enthusiastic about the dungeon, everybody had forgotten that it had a chimney. And that is why Tiffany looked up and saw, high above her, that little patch of blue which a prisoner calls the sky, but which she, as soon as it was dark enough, intended to call the exit.

I have talked a lot about Tiffany as a character and a rolemodel and someone I would want to be friends with if she were real (or I lived in Discworld). But, wonderful as she is, I must metion the side characters. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg only have a short cameo in this book. In their stead, we get to see a lot more or Roland and the lady Letitia (whose name is “halfway between a salad and a sneeze”) and her horrible snob of a mother. Just as I got comfortable hating certain characters and joining Tiffany in thinking nasty thoughts about them, Terry Pratchett reminded me that, despite their faults, these are still people with their own worries and dreams. Making every single character so very human that I can believe they are real (if only in my mind) is a feat that more authors should try to accomplish. Even characters we only see for one little scene get enough depth to make them three-dimensional.

midnight wearerAs I said above, the plot is a lot more sinister than in the previous books. Tiffany is neither hunted by a hiver, nor wooed by the Wintersmith. Instead, she has a much creepier, and more dangerous, creature to deal with. A creature that brings out the worst in people and a perfect villain, if you ask me. I enjoyed seeing Tiffany do her regular witchy work, although it does require watching people die at times, or helping a young girl recover from a beating, but her trip to Ankh Morpork definitely added another layer of fun to it. Not only does she meet certain officers of the Watch and visit Boffo’s, but another familiar character from the early Discoworld books makes an appearance.

The last thing I want to mention is the romance. Or lack thereof. Or the turning-on-the-head of the non-existing romance. You know… Sir Terry takes tropes from fairytales and fantasy literature alike and shows Tiffany (and us readers) that tropes aren’t actually rules.

And Tiffany… went back in time, just for a second. But in that second she was a little girl again, reading the well-thumbed book of fairy stories that all her sisters had read before her. But she had seen what they had not seen; she had seen through it. It lied. no, well, not exactly lied, but told you truths that you did not want to know: that only blonde and blue-eyed girls could get the prince and wear the glittering crown. It was built into the world. Even worse, it was built into your hair colouring. Redheads and brunettes sometimes got more than a walk-on part in the land of story, but if all you had was a rather mousy shade of brown hair you were marked down to be a servant girl.

Terry Pratchett doesn’t just show us that this “rule” goes both ways (what if a blonde girl wants to be something other than a glittering princess?) but also that its bullshit. Young girls with mousy brown hair, take heart. The other trope that was clearly subverted is the love story, even the love triangle. Now Tiffany is not immune to jealousy but she is also a clever and resourceful girl who trusts her Second and Third thoughts when they tell her the difference between love and friendship.

I am truly sad that this wonderful journey is over and can only hope that Terry Pratchett writes another book about the coolest witch I’ve ever read about.

THE GOOD: Brilliant characters, hilarious moments, a strong heroine dealing with tough situations.
It’s the last one in the seires!
Still as highly recommended as three books ago. Tiffany has stolen my heart and I already long to go back to her universe, the Nac Mac Feegles and the witches. Although I like none of them half as much as I like Tiffany. These are the kinds of books I wish I could have read when I was little.

RATING: 9/10  – Close to perfection


The Tiffany Aching Series:

  1. The Wee Free Mentiffany aching series
  2. A Hat Full of Sky
  3. Wintersmith
  4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith

Aaaaaaand we’re back. I like it when book series continually grow and become better as they move along. Terry Pratchett has created a wonderful heroine with Tiffany Aching and so far, every book has been better than the last. I’m already sad that I only have one more Tiffany-book ahead of me but, hey, maybe Sir Terry will write another adventure for the plucky young witch. I’m certainly crossing my fingers.

by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Corgi Childrens, 2007 (2006)
ISBN: 9780552553698
Paperback: 384 pages
Series: Discworld #35
Tiffany Aching #3

My rating: 9/10

First sentence: When the storm came, it hit the hills like a hammer.

Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to winter — she does what no one has ever done before and leaps into the dance. Into the oldest story there ever is. And draws the attention of the Wintersmith himself.
As Tiffany-shaped snowflakes hammer down on the land, can Tiffany deal with the consequences of her actions? Even with the help of Granny Weatherwax and the Nac Mac Feegle — the fightin’, thievin’ pictsies who are prepared to lay down their lives for their “big wee hag.”

dividerOh Tiffany, how much richer YA literature has become because of you. This 13-year-old girl may be clever and kind, but even young witches listening to their second and third thoughts sometimes make mistakes. This is a book about such a girl, making a rather big mistake – and then dealing with it, making things right again.

Tiffany Aching is now apprenticed to a new witch, the frightening and very odd Miss Treason. Now that’s a witch the way you imagine it. Blind and deaf, she borrows the eyes and ears of unfortunate creatures around her. May I draw your attention to the (beautifully detailed) cover, with her two seeing eye crows perched on her back? Tiffany wouldn’t be Tiffany if she didn’t just accept that Miss Treason is strange and get on with the job. And I was as surprised as Tiffany when certain things are revealed about the terrifying old lady in the black house. Terry Pratchett has created an entire cast of characters that is lovable and diverse and – despite their witchiness – utterly human. Up until now I thought Granny Weatherwax was the coolest person on Discworld but Miss Treason may just give her a run for her money.

Tnac mac feegleiffany is slowly growing up and makes sure everybody knows that Roland is not her beau but simply a friend who writes letters. Ahem. I was delighted to see more of Roland in this novel and couldn’t help shouting “awesome” whenever he outsmarted his terrible aunts. But then, I had the urge to shout “awesome” on nearly every page. Whenever we don’t get to see interesting and highly amusing sides to people’s characters (Granny Weatherwax now owns a kitten called You), Terry Pratchett lets us in on the secrets of Discworld. I will never forget a certain Boffo, nor the trip to the underworld with the Nac Mac Feegle. But this book isn’t called Wintersmith for nothing and while the story is still centered around Tiffany Aching growing up and becoming a witch, Pratchett managed to build his own mythology by creating the Wintersmith and the Summer Lady. Needless to say, I loved every bit of it.

I was introduced to a Discworld regular in this volume. Nanny Ogg – who lives at Tir Nani Ogg (that still cracks me up so much) – is not only a kind, apple-faced old lady but from what’s between the lines, she used to get a lot of attention from the men. And enjoy it. I couldn’t be happier to see a female character who may or may not have lead a promiscuous life but isn’t judged for it. Plus, she and Granny Weatherwax have been best friends for ages, that makes Nanny Ogg cool from the get go. I used to think the Guards were my favorite Discworld inhabitants but looking at these last Reviews of Gushing Love, I may be more of a witch girl… (*furiously juts down Witches books on top of TBR list*)

Most of this book is laugh-out-loud funny, with jokes ranging from silly to clever to absolutely idiotic. I chuckled constantly. But again, Sir Terry adds a deep and serious layer to it and shows us that his characters are more than just stand-ins for a good joke. In the last book, Granny Weatherwax said that witches can work together, hard as that may be, and here we get to see exactly that happening, in one heartbreaking and glorious chapter. Maybe I like Tiffany so much because, apart from her powers and cleverness, she is simply a good person. If helping her enemy means making sure that innocent people won’t be hurt, she’ll do it in a heartbeat. That’s the kind of rolemodel I’d want for my children and I’ll be sure to put these books into all the pudgy little child-hands in my family.

THE GOOD: A fun, adventurous story about growing up, making mistakes and taking on responsibility. Full of hilarious moments, characters I fell in love with, and even a trip to the underworld.
THE BAD: I liked the ending, but it felt a bit chaotic.
BONUS: Granny Weatherwax has a kitten!
THE VERDICT: If you never heard of Tiffany Aching, go pick up The Wee Free Men now. If you enjoy good YA fiction, like to laugh and watch brilliant characters grow up, this is for you.

RATING: 9/10  – Close to perfection

dividerThe Tiffany Aching (Sub-)Series:

  1. The Wee Free Men
  2. A Hat Full of Sky
  3. Wintersmith
  4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full of Sky

There were many things I loved about The Wee Free Men, first and foremost its wonderful heroine, Tiffany Aching. But there were also things that bothered me. Now I feel like some part of me secretly went back in time, told Terry Pratchett all of that, he took it into consideration and continued to tell Tiffany’s story only leaving the good bits in. Yes, that is delusional and silly, and no, I don’t actually believe it. Whatever made him write this book the way he did, I am glad about it, because it is fantastic!

hat full of sky 2A HAT FULL OF SKY
by Terry Pratchett

Published by: Corgi, 2010 (2004)
ISBN: 9780552562911
Paperback: 368 pages
Series: Discworld #32
Tiffany Aching #2

My rating: 9/10

First sentence: It came crackling over the hills, like an invisible fog.

No real witch would casually step out of their body, leaving it empty. Tiffany Aching does. And there’s something just waiting for a handy body to take over. Something ancient and horrible, which can’t die.
To deal with it, Tiffany has to go to the heart of what makes her a witch. Get past the ‘I can’t’. But even with the help of the Nac Mac Feegle – the rowdiest pictsies on the Disc, who like facing enormous odds – she still might not be able to win herself back . . .

dividerTiffany Aching, now eleven years old, is ready to take on her apprenticeship as a witch. She expects spells and magic, not the chores she shares with Miss Level – a witch with a rather peculiar personality quirk, if you can call it that. Tiffany learns that there are many sides to being a witch, and that weaving spells or doing actual magic is just a small portion of what witches do. But even though she is doing well and learning things about herself and the world, Tiffany doesn’t know that she’s in danger. A creature is pursuing her. And in this creature, Terry Pratchett has created one of the best villains Discworld has ever seen.

You have to love Tiffany Aching. At eleven, she is still as practical as ever and I’d gladly see more children reading these books and seeing her as a rolemodel. She knows that life is full of lessons, especially the life of a witch, and she takes on her responsibilities like a grown-up. Tiffany deals with problems head-on, doesn’t shy away from unattractive tasks, and still relies on her second and third thoughts. I loved everything about this girl and about the way Pratchett portrays her – and the other witches – in his books. Tiffany is a many-layered, strong protagonist. She is the opposite of a trope, a girl who knows what she wants, makes friends with other girls, but also a girl who has to deal with her own problems.

hat full of sky frenc I was delighted that the Nac Mac Feegle played an important role in this story. They may be the comic center of the tale, but despite their swearing, their love of fighting (and Special Sheep Liniment), they are fiercely loyal to their wee big hag and would gladly risk their lives for her. These little blue men aren’t merely there for comic relief or cute effect, they are central to the plot and responsible for saving Tiffany, when nobody else could. Rob Anybody especially grew on me. Where in the first book, the Feegles kind of blurred in my mind into one big mass of swearing, blue men who steal sheep, their personalities were more distinct and well-rounded.

Terry Pratchett manages, yet again, to mix his wonderful humor with a great story and suspense. The hiver, mysterious and truly scary, made for some quite frightening moments and I asked myself more than once how on earth Tiffany would make it out of this mess. Thank heavens Granny Weatherwax makes an appearance, not only because she nudges Tiffany in the right direction whenever she needs nudging, but also because she is one of the coolest people on Discworld. Tiffany, Granny Weatherwax, and the incomparable Miss Level gave me fits of delight – because they are a celebration of women and Terry Pratchett’s keen eye on humanity is reflected in them.

“Believe me, witches can act together if they must. It’s harder’n herding cats, but it can be done.”

If you can’t tell by now, I’m having a really hard time finding things to criticize here. Of course, Pratchett’s humor isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and I am not a huge fan of his earlier Discworld novels myself. But this was another brilliant combination of silly, clever, and serious – and A Hat Full of Sky may just have kicked The Amazing Maurice off his pedestal and turned into my favorite Discworld novel. For now, at least…

THE GOOD: Wonderful characters, a great plot driven by a multi-layered villain, hilarious dialogue and narration – and lots of hats.
THE BAD: If you don’t like Pratchett’s humor, you won’t like Pratchett’s books. That’s all I can think of, seriously.
THE VERDICT: A children’s book series that I cannot recommend enough. If you’re like me and were a bit unsure about The Wee Free Men, keep reading. This book explores deep themes without raising a finger, Tiffany is a flawed but incredibly lovable character and I dare you to not care about her, the Feegles, Miss Level, and Granny Weatherwax after reading this. I also dare you to stop reading the series after this book. Ha!

RATING: 9/10  – Nearly perfect!

dividerThe Tiffany Aching (Sub-)Series:

  1. The Wee Free Men
  2. A Hat Full of Sky
  3. Wintersmith
  4. I Shall Wear Midnight

Stephen King – Wizard and Glass

When I first found out about this series, I wanted to read it all in one go. And then I found out that Stephen King built a whole universe around this series – in his other fiction. So I decided to take it a bit more slowly and delve into other King books as well. So far, reading any Stephen King has paid off, and some books have fairly obvious references to the Dark Tower series that made me giggle as if I’d found an easter egg. Nowadays, it’s all on the internet, easy to be found. Which doesn’t make the hunt any less thrilling.

by Stephen King

published: New English Library 2003 (1997)
pages: 845
copy: paperback
series: The Dark Tower #4

my rating: 9/10

first sentence: “ASK ME A RIDDLE,” Blaine invited. “Fuck you,” Roland said.

Wizard and Glass picks up where the last book left off, with our hero, Roland, and his unlikely band of followers escaping from one world and slipping into the next. And it is there that Roland tells them a story, one that details his discovery of something even more elusive than the Dark Tower: love. But his romance with the beautiful and quixotic Susan Delgado also has its dangers, as her world is tom apart by war. Here is Roland’s journey to his own past, to a time when valuable lessons awaited him, lessons of loyalty and betrayal, love and loss.

And the broken record continues. This is awesome!
This book differs a lot from the others in the series, because 90% of it are a flashback into Roland’s past. 14-year-old Roland is sent to Mejis with his friends Alain and Cuthbert – both of which I came to love very easily. It is in a small town called Hambry that he doesn’t only discover first love but also a plot that could threaten his own home and people.  One might think that after the enormous cliffhanger of book three, I’d be annoyed that we only spend enough time with Eddie, Jake and Susannah to get them settled around a fire where Roland can tell his tale. But, to be honest, I got so drawn into Roland’s past and this new cast of characters that I wouldn’t have minded reading another book solely about Roland’s former ka-tet.

While our well-known (and more and more beloved) characters still feature in this novel, we are introduced to a lot of new ones. New for us readers, not for Roland. His first love, Susan Delgado, the extremely scary with Rhea (I shudder to think of her), the despicable aunt Cord, or the Big Coffin Hunters – they all come to life on the pages of this novel and manage to evoke some emotional response from be, be it fear, disgust, compassion of love. In a flashback told by the progatonist, you can be sure he’ll survive. This does not mean, however, that there wasn’t a myriad of moments where I feared for him and his companions. King is truly the master of suspense!

We do learn new things about the quest to the Tower, despite spending most of the novel in the past. The new themes and ideas were mindblowing and kept me hooked for hundreds of pages at a time. I keep my reviews spoiler-free, so all I’m going to say is that the title of this instalment in the series is well chosen.The flashback also made Roland more human to me. While in the first book he comes of as this perfect hero without much going for him except his obsession for the Tower, he has grown more likable and more real in subsequent novels. After this, I care for him as much as I do for Jake and Oy (he’s still my favorite) and Eddie and Susannah. In my reader’s heart, this is the book that cements them as ka-tet.

Roland and Susan (art by Jae Lee)

What surprised me was how beautifully the love story was told. Sure, Stephen King is great at shocking and scaring his audience, but I know believe that he could write anything he sets his mind to. I was drawn into Roland’s love story, I completely understood how his 14-year-old heart could beat for nothing but his beloved and how preoccupied a teenage mind gets when in love. Despite King’s worries in the afterworld, I think he’s done an extraordinary job and written a better love story than many romance authors manage.

After Roland has finished telling his story, we do shortly return to our present day ka-tet. And they deliver one of the most awesome show-downs I can remember. There is no mean cliffhanger this time but I loved how King decided to weave in more references to literature and pop culture. He manages to conjure up childhood memories and scenes from famous books and twist them so they’re utterly scarey and make you feel just as frightened as Eddie, Jake, and Susanah. I also feel the urge to read The Stand very soon because it is the novel that feeds most heavily into this part of the Dark Tower series.

Stephen King’s afterword is well worth reading as well. He is not just a brilliant writer but he’s also so damn likable! In my opinion (and it may only last until I’ve read the next book) this is the best novel in the series so far.

THE GOOD: New characters, an amazing story that gives Roland more personality and keeps you hooked on every page. A beautiful love story and an awesome ending.
THE BAD: There is one passage that got drawn out a bit too long for my taste.
THE VERDICT: Yet another fantastic instalment in this series. I am growing fonder and fonter of the story, the characters and the quest for the Dark Tower. More please!

RATING: 9/10 Pretty close to perfection!

The Dark Tower Series:

  1. The Gunslinger
  2. The Drawing of the Three
  3. The Waste Lands
  4. Wizard and Glass
  5. Wolves of the Calla
  6. Song of Susannah
  7. The Dark Tower
  8. The Wind Through the Keyhole

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