I shall wear midnight

Terry Pratchett

Book - 2010

Fifteen-year-old Tiffany Aching, the witch of the Chalk, seeks her place amid a troublesome populace and tries to control the ill-behaved, six-inch-high Wee Free Men who follow her as she faces an ancient evil that agitates against witches.

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Review by Booklist Review

Pratchett returns to the terra firma of his popular, sprawling Discworld series, the young-reader corner of which centers around teen witch Tiffany Aching. Being a good witch mostly means tending to the locals' minor aches, pains, and kerfuffles which she does with as much aplomb as anyone could be expected to muster but to become a great witch, she'll have to contend with the malevolent ghost of an ancient witch-burner. Yet even that might not be as terrifying as trying to keep the peace between the humans and the wee Nac Mac Feegles (whose primary skills are drinking, brawling, having Scottish brogues, brawling a bit more, and stealing every scene they're in) and, shudder, getting wrapped up in the wedding of her childhood friend, who is suddenly a very myopic baron. The action never picks up much more momentum than a determined amble, but readers won't care a whit because in terms of pure humor per square word, Pratchett may be the cheeriest writer around. Now that Tiffany Aching's adventures are concluded, readers can explore the nearly three decade's worth of other Discworld books.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

The final adventure in Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series brings this subset of Discworld novels to a moving and highly satisfactory conclusion. Tiffany, now nearly 16 years old, is forced to do battle with the hate-filled ghost of a long dead witchfinder, the Cunning Man, who has become obsessed with the young witch and is gradually turning her own community against her. As ever, Tiffany is ably supported by her loyal, intensely fractious, and totally amoral companions, the Nac Mac Feegles, whose leader, Rob Anybody, believes, "After all, ye ken, what would be the point of lyin' when you had nae done anything wrong?" She must deal with the heavy workload of a professional witch (birthing babies, training apprentices, and the like), fight evil, and come to terms with her former boyfriend's impending marriage. Pratchett's trademark wordplay and humor are much in evidence, but he's also interested in weightier topics, including religious prejudice and the importance of living a balanced life. Tiffany Aching fans, who have been waiting for this novel since Wintersmith (2006), should be ecstatic. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Pratchett's fourth-and final-book to feature young witch Tiffany Aching (The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith) is a delight from start to finish. The trademark Pratchett humor is in full force along with the classic elements of a witch, a royal wedding, a royal funeral, a trip to the big city, and an ominous villain. Comic relief comes in the form of frequent appearance by the Nac Mac Feegle (who would not be out of place in a farcical miniproduction of Braveheart) and everyone's favorite randy old hag, Nanny Ogg. A character from early in the "Discworld" series makes a cameo appearance, and we meet a new character, the learned young man Preston. As usual, Pratchett makes wise and wry observations about human behavior, for example, "poison goes where poison's welcome" refers to the mob mentality. Verdict YA and adult readers who like strong heroines and classic tales will enjoy this volume, which is sure to be in demand by Discworld fans.-Amy Watts, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-This is the final adventure of the young witch, Tiffany Aching, and her obnoxious, fawning, and yet lovable small blue companions, the Nac Mac Feegles. In many ways it's a coming-of-age novel, as Tiffany is now on her own. Known as "The Hag O'the Hills," she spends her time tending to the messy, menial, everyday things that no one else will take care of, such as fixing bones or easing the pain of a dying man. But as she tries to serve the people of the Chalk hills, she senses a growing distrust of her, and a loss of respect for witches in general. Along with the Nac Mac Feegles, she has to seek out the source of this growing fear. Tiffany discovers she may have been responsible for waking an evil force when she kissed the winter in Wintersmith (HarperTempest, 2006). The Cunning Man is in need of a host body and is searching for Tiffany. Pratchett combines gut-busting humor and amusing footnotes with a genuine poignancy as Tiffany tries to decide what her future should be. Fans of the author's "Discworld" (HarperCollins) books will enjoy the connections with the larger series, particularly the inclusion of Granny Weatherwax. Simply put, this fourth and final book in the series is an undisputed triumph.-Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

Pratchett's characteristic high-quality mix of intelligence, comic inventiveness, humor, and incisive moral seriousness suffuses this fourth (and apparently final, alas) Tiffany Aching adventure, making it one of the most entertaining and literarily rich fantasies for young adults available. Tiffany, now an established witch of the Chalk, must conquer the "cunning man," a "horrible creature who can take over somebody else completely" -- especially someone open to evil. "Poison goes where poison's welcome," Tiffany realizes, as the cunning man inhabits various nasty people. This maxim about contagious human viciousness is only one of many underpinnings to Pratchett's dramatic and always amusing tale, in which even the smallest of elements displays critical (but mostly affectionate) insight into human character -- from the ebullient Nac Mac Feegles hanging off Tiffany's broomstick, their kilts flapping in the wind, to the uncomfortable remnants of an outgrown adolescent romance, such as that of Tiffany and Roland, the new Baron. Mr. William Glottal Carpetlayer; Deirdre Parsley, the nasty Duchess-mother-in-law-to-be and former music hall dancer; Preston, the erudite, solicitous, utterly awkward trainee-guard -- every character contributes not just color and comedy to the mix but ideas as well. The story is stuffed with concepts that challenge and oxygenate the brain -- elasticated string theory and the original meaning of the word buxom among them. Funny, thought-provoking, and completely engaging from first to last. deirdre f. baker (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Ask Tiffany Aching, and she'll tell you: It's not easy being a witch, especially when you're only almost 16 years old.It can't be easy being Terry Pratchett, either, an author known foremost, perhaps, for his screamingly funny Discworld novels, of which this is the latest. Beneath everything he writes, however, even as he has readers howling helplessly with laughter, is a fierce, palpable love for his fellow human beings, however flawed they may be. A love that causes Tiffany over and over to square her shoulders beneath her pointy black hat and do what's needful.He throws a lot at Tiffany, who crashed spectacularly into her calling when she armed herself with a skillet and, at the age of nine, ventured into Faerieland (which is not nearly as nice as it sounds) to steal her brother back from its Queen (The Wee Free Men, 2003). Here he challenges her with the Cunning Man, a centuries-old disembodied hatred that seeks ignorance and uses it"Poison goes where poison's welcome"against witches.Themes of memory and forgetting run throughout this tale. Books preserve all memories, even the ones better consigned to oblivion. The Cunning Man is resurrected when Letitia, Tiffany's erstwhile swain Roland's fiance (Pratchett confronts her with this betrayal, too) summons him inadvertently when trying to work a spell against Tiffany. But one of the Cunning Man's MOs is wanton book burning, a calculated obliteration of memories.Witches, arguably, embody the accumulated wisdom of their craft, while the Cunning Man is a collective memory of evil. He operates by playing on fear and causing the common folk to forget what their witches have done for them. Tiffany must remember everything she's gleaned from all the witches who have trained her to defeat him, and the key is a childhood memory the old Baron shares with her on his deathbed.It's not all heavy stuff. Pratchett leavens Tiffany's passage into adulthood with generous portions of assistance from the Nac Mac Feegle, the six-inch-high blue men whose love of boozin', fightin' and stealin' is subordinate only to their devotion to Tiffany, their Hag o' the Hills. When they utterly destroy the King's Head while on an errand for Tiffany, they rebuild the pubback-to-front, rendering it the King's...oh, crivens, never mind.And even as he demands more and more of Tiffanyher beau engaged elsewhere, her old Baron gone, the people of the Chalk turned against herhe gives her an army of friends and someone who loves words as much as she does, someone who, like Tiffany and, one suspects, the author himself, knows that "forgiveness" sounds "like a silk handkerchief gently falling down."A passionately wise, spectacularly hilarious and surpassingly humane outing from a master.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

I Shall Wear Midnight Chapter One A Fine Big Wee Laddie Why was it, Tiffany Aching wondered, that people liked noise so much? Why was noise so important? Something quite close sounded like a cow giving birth. It turned out to be an old hurdy-gurdy organ, hand cranked by a raggedy man in a battered top hat. She sidled away as politely as she could, but as noise went, it was sticky; you got the feeling that if you let it, it would try to follow you home. But that was only one sound in the great cauldron of noise around her, all of it made by people and all of it made by people trying to make noise louder than the other people making noise: Arguing at the makeshift stalls, bobbing for apples or frogs,* cheering the prizefighters and a spangled lady on the high wire, selling cotton candy at the tops of their voices, and, not to put too fine a point on it, boozing quite considerably. The air above the green downland was thick with noise. It was as if the populations of two or three towns had all come up to the top of the hills. And so here, where all you generally heard was the occasional scream of a buzzard, you heard the permanent scream of, well, everyone. It was called having fun. The only people not making any noise were the thieves and pickpockets, who went about their business with commendable silence, and they didn't come near Tiffany; who would pick a witch's pocket? You would be lucky to get all your fingers back. At least, that was what they feared, and a sensible witch would encourage them in this fear. When you were a witch, you were all witches, thought Tiffany Aching as she walked through the crowds, pulling her broomstick after her on the end of a length of string. It floated a few feet above the ground. She was getting a bit bothered about that. It seemed to work quite well, but nevertheless, since all around the fair were small children dragging balloons, also on the ends of pieces of string, she couldn't help thinking that it made her look more than a little bit silly, and something that made one witch look silly made all witches look silly. On the other hand, if you tied it to a hedge somewhere, there was bound to be some kid who would untie the string and get on the stick for a dare, in which case most likely he would go straight up all the way to the top of the atmosphere where the air froze, and while she could in theory call the stick back, mothers got very touchy about having to thaw out their children on a bright late-summer day. That would not look good. People would talk. People always talked about witches. She resigned herself to dragging it again. With luck, people would think she was joining in with the spirit of the thing in a humorous way. There was a lot of etiquette involved, even at something so deceptively cheerful as a fair. She was the witch; who knows what would happen if she forgot someone's name or, worse still, got it wrong? What would happen if she forgot all the little feuds and factions, the people who weren't talking to their neighbors and so on and so on and a lot more so and even further on? Tiffany had no understanding at all of the word "minefield," but if she had, it would have seemed kind of familiar. She was the witch. For all the villages along the Chalk, she was the witch. Not just for her own village anymore, but for all the other ones as far away as Ham-on-Rye, which was a pretty good day's walk from here. The area that a witch thought of as her own, and for whose people she did what was needful, was called a steading, and as steadings went, this one was pretty good. Not many witches got a whole geological outcrop to themselves, even if this one was mostly covered in grass, and the grass was mostly covered in sheep. And today the sheep on the downs were left by themselves to do whatever it was that they did when they were by themselves, which would presumably be pretty much the same as they did if you were watching them. And the sheep, usually fussed and herded and generally watched over, were now of no interest whatsoever, because right here the most wonderful attraction in the world was taking place. Admittedly, the scouring fair was only one of the world's most wonderful attractions if you didn't usually ever travel more than about four miles from home. If you lived around the Chalk you were bound to meet everyone that you knew at the fair. It was quite often where you met the person you were likely to marry. The girls certainly all wore their best dresses, while the boys wore expressions of hopefulness and their hair smoothed down with cheap hair pomade or, more usually, spit. Those who had opted for spit generally came off better, since the cheap pomade was very cheap indeed and would often melt and run in the hot weather, causing the young men not to be of interest to the young women, as they had fervently hoped, but to the flies, who would make their lunch off the boys' scalps. However, since the event could hardly be called "the fair where you went in the hope of getting a kiss and, if your luck held, the promise of another one," the fair was called the scouring. The scouring was held over three days at the end of summer. For most people on the Chalk, it was their holiday. This was the third day, and it was said that if you hadn't had a kiss by now, you might as well go home. Tiffany hadn't had a kiss, but after all, she was the witch. Who knew what they might get turned into? If the late-summer weather was clement, it wasn't unusual for some people to sleep out under the stars, and under the bushes as well. And that was why, if you wanted to take a stroll at night, it paid to be careful, so as not to trip over someone's feet. Not to put too fine a point on it, there was a certain amount of what Nanny Oggâ€"a witch who had been married to three husbandsâ€"called "making your own entertainment." It was a shame that Nanny lived right up in the mountains, because she would have loved the scouring and Tiffany would have loved to see her face when she saw the giant.... I Shall Wear Midnight . Copyright © by Terry Pratchett . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.