Aaaaannnnnd now I know why everyone who loved Pratchett before Dodger came out was less than impressed by that book. It's like a completely different person wrote these books. I waited so long to read any Discworld books because I had a strong suspicion I would be hooked. Yet I felt like I could no longer go on as a lover of fantasy, particularly British fantasy, without reading at least the four Tiffany Aching books: The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight. The Summer Series Challenge was the perfect kick in the pants I needed to get this done.
I'm going to do something a little different and not give my thoughts on each book, but instead talk about what I loved of the series as a whole.
Tiffany: I think you should be proud of not being worse than just deeply introverted and socially maladjusted. This was said by an enemy of Tiffany, an enemy trying to convince her to give up. Yet the words are not untrue. Sometimes the truth has more power, and this does describe Tiffany well. She is a girl who would be described as awkward, often invisible in plain sight, one who thinks and watches, and only speaks when necessary. Man can I relate to her and how her mind works, which helped to suck me into the story from the beginning. Watching her grow up and come into her own, accepting who she was and owning it over the course of the four novels was a delight.
The Nac Mac Feegle: The Nac Mac Feegle are the most dangerous of the fairy races, particularly when drunk. They love drinking, fighting, and stealing, and will in fact steal anything that is not nailed down. If it is nailed down, they wills teal the nails as well. I'm probably not supposed to think they're adorable. They would hate that. I can't help it. Everything about their cursing, drinking, fighting, stealing ways makes me want to pat them on their little heads. When they are at their most fiercely aggressive I want to scoop them up and hug them. I'm sure they would appreciate this about as much as my son does when I do it to him. They are an integral part of Tiffany's story in addition to being comic relief and adorable. Who she is is very much tied in with the Nac Mac Feegle. Rob Anybody, the leader, is a ferocious protector of Tiffany and is a major player in shaping who she becomes as the series progresses.
Roland: Admittedly-and it took some admitting-he was a lot less of a twit than he had been. On the other hand, there had been such a lot of twit to begin with. Roland is rescued by Tiffany in book one, but because he is older and trained to fight everyone assumes it happened the other way around. Tiffany allows them to believe this. Roland allows them to believe this, but much to his credit he is not entirely comfortable with it. Which is surprising because when we first meet him Roland really is a twit. But he grows through the books, even if he sometimes still does twitty things. I also liked the realistic development of the relationship between Tiffany and him. I like how Pratchett played with the reader's expectations here.
The Older Witches (particularly Granny Weatherwax): These are true mentors. They don't teach. They don't instruct. They watch and let the younger witches learn. Granny Weatherwax is like that teacher you always wanted to impress, but who didn't impress easily, and when she was impressed it was hard to tell. I like how she's more than a little ruthless too. She is unwilling to bend rules, even for Tiffany, who she likes very much. She gives advice and lets Tiffany do her own thing, but is not gong to bend the rules of the universe to save her or get her out of trouble. She lets her live with the consequences and does not treat her like a special snowflake (even if she literally is one at one point). How refreshing.
Preston: For reasons.
The Writing: These books are clever and oh so humorous. They are not laugh out loud funny (okay-maybe occasionally). It is more the sort of humor that has you smirking as you read. It is subtle and tongue-in-cheek. I love this sort of understated humor. The stories of magic, fights with monsters, love, reconciliation, friendship, and family told within the pages of the four books are fun and fast paced yet also filled with heart and soul. I flagged so many pages when I was reading. So many fun quotes, so much wisdom, so much humor, so much great figurative language. I am in awe.
So now I want to read more Discworld books. Discworld people tell me, where should I go next? Do I just start from the beginning with #1 or is there a better route to take?