Thursday, January 28, 2016

What we're reading: The end of a series (and an era)

Nac Mac Feegles, what hae?


In book club a few years ago, we read The Wee Free Men, the first book in Terry Pratchett's delightful series about the  adventures of the young witch Tiffany Aching and her tiny blue-skinned Pict friends, the argumentative and slightly profane Nac Mac Feegle. Although the series falls within his massive, career-encompassing Discworld series (which he began in 1983 and which includes about 40 books!), you can read this series within a series while knowing absolutely nothing about the bigger picture, which I have (a couple of times). The books, in order, are:


The Wee Free Men

A Hat Full of Sky


Wintersmith


I Shall Wear Midnight



Right around the time he wrote the third book in this miniseries, Sir Terry (he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1998 and knighted by the Queen in 2009) announced that he was suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Sadly, the disease moved quickly, and Pratchett passed away in March of last year, at the age of 67.

Before he passed, however, he got a good ways into a fifth and final book in the Tiffany Aching series, and that book was published posthumously in September 2015. It's called The Shepherd's Crown, and shows us Tiffany Aching coming into her own as a young but powerful leader of the witches of her world. The wall between her land and that of the Faerie has weakened, and the death of a powerful witch has emboldened the fairies to once again cross over to wreak havoc. Tiffany and her allies must unite to repel them and re-seal the wall.

Even though some reviewers feel that The Shepherd's Crown is not up to Pratchett's usual standards (because someone else finished the book), I thought that it was lovely, and that it followed through with and expressed the personalities and story lines from the rest of the series. I'm happy to have a resolution to Tiffany's story--although there is potential here for so many more books, so I'm sad there will be no more.

If you haven't read this series, my personal opinion is that if you're a fan of fantasy (and enjoy good writing, with characters who could step off the page), it's a must.

Members of 10-12 Book Club who are currently reading Good Omens (co-written by Pratchett with Neil Gaiman), if you like that, you could try this before embarking on the optimistic project of reading Discworld from the beginning.

I hope Terry Pratchett is wandering somewhere on the Chalk with Grannies Aching and Weatherwax, Thunder and Lightning at his heels, listening for the faint cry of "Crivens!" on the morning breeze.

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