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I Shall Wear Midnight: Discworld    by Terry Pratchett order for
I Shall Wear Midnight
by Terry Pratchett
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I Shall Wear Midnight is the fourth (following The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith) in Terry Pratchett's enchanting YA Discworld series. It stars talented young witch Tiffany Aching, who's continually followed and protected by the small and contentious Nac Mac Feegle (the rambunctious Wee Free Men who tend to steal all her scenes).

In the first episode, Tiffany inherited her dead Granny Aching's role as witch of the Chalk downlands. She became an apprentice witch in the second and won the interest of powerful Mistress Weatherwax. In the third book, Tiffany inadvertently caught the attention of an elemental, who courted her. To set things right, she had to teach the Wintersmith a lesson. But that powerful magic had unintended consequences ... awakening an old evil from its slumber.

As I Shall Wear Midnight opens, Tiffany is busy in her role as witch of the Chalk (a blend of magic user and social worker, with an emphasis on the latter!) It's a job that keeps her apart from others, something she feels even more now that her childhood friend Roland is getting married to the dainty Letitia, whose name is 'Halfway between a salad and a sneeze' but who is actually not at all as she appears on the surface.

Tiffany has work to do at the scouring fair when the abusive Mr. Petty beats his pregnant young daughter Amber, who loses her baby. After Petty's act ignites rough music in the village, Tiffany takes Amber to kelda Jeannie for healing. When the old Baron (Roland's father) dies, Tiffany eases his passing. She observes that her actions are being misunderstood and that stories of wicked witches are spreading like wildfire.

When Tiffany rides her broomstick to Ankh-Morpork (followed by the Wee Free Men) to inform Roland of his father's death, she learns that her adversary is the Cunnning Man, who has no soul and stirs up hatred of witches - 'Poison goes where poison's welcome.' She has help from Eskarina Smith (the 'only woman who ever became a wizard') who gives her tea in the Unreal Estate and advises her to 'make a place for fear, fear under control.'

After Tiffany returns to the Chalk, the Cunning Man follows. But when all seem darkest, she remembers who she is. She applies pride, fear, trust and common sense - with a strong hint from a surprising ally - to the problem, declaring, 'When I am old, I shall wear midnight. But not today.' As always she has the unruly aid of the Nac Mac Feegle, and this time also of trainee guard Preston, who hides his intelligence and knowledge under talk of 'happy ass corp ass'.

Sadly, it seems likely that this is the last in the series. Though it is darker than the more lighthearted earlier episodes (as befits a witch who has fully come into her own), I Shall Wear Midnight is also a triumphant story. In it, Tiffany does 'a woman's job ... at the center of things' and in answer to the question, 'What is the sound of love?', she sagely declares 'Listen.' I will always happily listen to anything from Terry Pratchett and strongly recommend that you do the same.

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