I Shall Wear Midnight Read Along Part I

PratchettIShallWearMidnightWelcome Everyone! This week, we are lead by the fearless Lisa from Over the Effing Rainbow. Make sure you swing by her place for genteel conversation.

We covered Chapters 1-6 of I Shall Wear Midnight, the fourth Tiffany Aching book. You know how you wouldn’t take a peek inside a Feegle spog just before lunch for fear of spoiling your appetite? Right, so there be spoilers below for the the book!

1) So Roland is engaged! … And being a bit of a ‘Baron’ towards Tiffany. Oh dear. What do you think of this awkward turn in their ‘friendship’ in this book?

Well, obviously their friendship has already suffered. Last book, we saw that they had a somewhat easy relationship, at least with the penpaling. Now there is this awkwardness what neither seems able to talk about, with each other or others. While I read this book some years back, I honestly remember very little of it and I can’t recall what happens with Tiffany and Roland. I want to say that by the end they are friends again, but not engaged, but that may just be my wishful thinking, hoping Pratchett will give us just one more Tiffany Aching book.

2) “Rough music…” Even more so than with Wintersmith, it seems this book is tackling darker/more adult issues. What did you think of the way Tiffany handled Mr Petty, and is this darker side a welcome development?

I was surprised by the much darker tone. On the other hand, Pratchett balances it well with Feegle humor following on the Petty mess. Honestly, I am conflicted about how Tiffany handled Mr. Petty. I feel like he didn’t pay for his bad acts and therefore can’t really understand the pain he has caused others. Additionally, Mrs. Petty is an upsetting thing, not able to take a stand and declare when enough is enough and make the tough choices. As volunteer fire & EMS, I see spousal abuse on occasion, and have gotten a feel for the local repeat offenders. Having a group of concerned neighbors, ambulance, and police respond to their house is not enough to have them change their ways.

With that in mind, I would say that Tiffany simply gave a sorry man something to feel sorry about (himself and his bruises, etc.) and didn’t help the local populace. If Mr. Petty was dead, by his hand or otherwise, folks could close an ugly chapter in their lives, possibly forgive him, and move on, becoming useful folks themselves. But this is fiction, and teen/young adult fiction at that, so we probably can’t have the heroine standby and watch a man hang. And since he did it sloppily, not breaking his neck right away, it could take up to an hour or so for him to die. So, yes, Tiff had to cut him down.

3) The Feegles are back, and this time we see more of Jeannie, their Kelda. She takes in the Pettys’ daughter, Amber, after Tiffany deals with Mr Petty. Is this a good idea, or do you think it’ll just bring trouble? And what do you make of Jeannie’s prediction that more trouble is coming Tiffany’s way?

Yeah for Feegle kindness! I think it is good for Amber to be with the Feegles. However, nearly everyone else thinks Amber should be with her family. Even Tiffany is a bit on the fence about this one. Tis disturbing. The Feegles won’t beat her at all, let alone to the point where her body nearly gives up and goes into spontaneous abortion.

Alas, I think things are pointy towards troubled waters for Tiffany, and ‘stealing’ Amber away to be given to the ‘faeries’ could be one more thing on the list that may get her burned or stoned or drowned as a witch.

4) Speaking of Amber, there’s something interesting going on with her … Do you think we might see Amber become a witch? And what do you make of her ability to ‘understand’ animals?

She obviously has a gift to understand nearly everything she has come into contact with since her nasty beating. So, yes, I will say that she has the makings of a witch, even if she only ever has this one skill.

As for the chickens following her in a line, that is terribly cute and I love it when mine do the same for me. Of course, they all recognize my face, and are motivated by food, so it’s not like I chat with them in the local country chicken dialect. But, still, very cute.

5) Tiffany vs. Miss Spruce … It seems Tiffany is having to deal much more with people’s negative views of witchcraft, and her use of it. Do you think we’ll see Miss Spruce become more of a problem for Tiffany later?

Yes, Ms. Spruce seems dead set on causing trouble for Tiffany, which is a shame as Tiff has plenty to do otherwise. It would be nice if Roland stepped in and fired Ms. Spruce, making sure to ship her off somewhere distant. Alas, that would be too easy wouldn’t it?

I especially liked Tiffany’s comment about spending so much time on one’s knees in prayer, why not take a mop bucket and scrubbie down with you? Totally agree. You can pray, or commune, or think deep thoughts while getting a bit of manual labor done at the same time.

6) On the other hand, there is the Baron, may he rest in peace … What did you think of his first and last real conversation with Tiffany?

I think he waited too long to treat Tiffany like a real person. However, he did just learn the day before about her rescuing Roland back in Book 1. That was probably the trigger for him to treat her as an equal. I liked that Tiffany shared her fire trick with him, and in turn he shared a deeply pleasing memory of his own with her. I wonder what will happen to that childhood drawing of his?

Other Tidbits:

I liked how Tiffany had a little bit of internal nasty concerning Letitia’s name, but then also cut it off when she started to get a little too mean, even tho it was only in her head.

She buried the little baby corpse in a field of flowers, flowers that grew from seeds she makes sure to sew over the grave and burned cottage of the old ‘witch’ woman who was shunned to death. Tiff rocks!

Daft Wullie needs a pet duck, so that he always has one to shove his head up when he shouldn’t be saying anything. Tho I might feel sorry for the duck as Daft Wullie probably doesn’t bath too often.

The Feegles all held their kilts up to help slow the broom as it crashed into the moving stage coach! I hope, deeply hope, that she did NOT take a look behind her!

5 thoughts on “I Shall Wear Midnight Read Along Part I”

  1. 1. I get the feeling that their ‘relationship’ in the previous book was really just about each being the only candidate in the other one’s life. They didn’t really have much of a link, but it was kind of expected of them. It looks like it was their first crush and I hope that they get over the embarrassment sooner rather than later.

    2. It is easy to feel little sympathy for Mrs Petty and to blame her for ‘allowing’ the abuse to continue, but we must try to understand how brainwashed she has become after all these years. Dealing with domestic abuse is such a difficult thing to do that I commend anyone who does so and gets positive outcomes.

    3. I hadn’t thought of people blaming Tiffany for doing this, but you could be right, and it would certainly fit in with the underlying anti-witch theme in this book. Oh dear.

    I also found her burial of the baby rather moving because it revealed what she had done for the old lady and the cat – it is touches like that that really show us what a good person Tiffany is.

    1. I see your point about Mrs. Petty, but I have to say that the current circumstance is extreme – which means that it is time for her to step out of her ‘safe’ routine reaction and try something else. Trying in a case like this, even if the results are poor, can mean so much.

      Terry Pratchett really is such an excellent writer and the scene with the ‘wild flowers’, Tiff, the dead baby, and the memory of the old woman and her cat killed by the village so many years ago really shows off that skill.

  2. 3) I agree with you that Amber is better off with the Feegles, and that Tiffany is probably going to be painted as a child-napper. She knew it was going to be hard to be a witch on the Chalk, but I really hope this situation doesn’t end with villagers forcing her to leave her homeland.

    5) I forgot to mention that in my answers, but I really liked Tiffany’s point there about prayer vs. work. From the religious perspective: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

    1. I love your bit about works and faith. Excellently said. While I belong to no religion, I do have a spiritual side, and I find that I most often explore that side when I am engaged in some necessary but mundane task.

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