I feel like a fool.
All those years I was moaning about Terry Pratchett abandoning my favourite characters the witches Granny Weatherwax and the supremely everything incorrect, Nanny Ogg to concentrate on just about everything else. ‘Why can’t he go back to the witches?’ I moaned again and again.
But what’s this! He never left them. How could I have missed it. All the time he was writing about witches and let’s face it the plain mechanics of magic and cleverly disguising them as ‘children’s books’. As a pagan and practicing druid, (I”ll get it right eventually!) of twenty years standing I know a fair bit about magic and especially about those who practice it and in many cases make it their life. I’ve always felt that Granny, Nanny and the rest have a great deal of authenticity to them and that the very business of being a day to day hedge witch is incredibly well evoked.
But in the Tiffany Aching books magic doesn’t so much get in the back door as come crashing in with a big boot as the main event and heaven/hell/some none specific afterlife help who gets in the way. The books become progressively darker until there are times in the fourth “I Shall Wear Midnight” when it feels like one long howl for social justice, decency and equality. I can’t help thinking that this is the sort of thing that the newly elected government, (no I can’t believe it either!) would find and burn when they eventually appoint a minister of book burning, which must be soon. Meantime how heartening is it to know that there are books for ‘children’ which adults are allowed to read such as this, so that people can enjoy and learn an appreciation of magic which is neither a school for assorted child wizards or what the book burners fear it to be. Better still is that Terry’s last huzzah in September will be the fifth book in the series, The Shepherd’s Crown.
How could I have missed all this?