Although the Tiffany Aching books have already been out for years, I’d never bothered to read them until last May, spurred mostly by boredom during a car trip. This is why I love having a Kindle–I don’t need to pop into a bookstore, shift through the stacks, pay at the register, go home, and finally begin reading. With the Kindle, I search, I sample, I purchase, and I read. Simple. I was impressed by the Kindle editions of this series–virtually error-free. I loved being able to search the books while reading the series, too, as old friends reappeared throughout the series. I’ll probably end up tracking down the hardcover editions–the one thing I do regret is not reading these when they first came out.
The Wee Free Men sets up the rest of the Tiffany Aching books. As I devoured them, it was clear that Pratchett intended for Tiffany to grow up and come to terms with her power (while facing down the forces of evil, of course). I didn’t expect to like the Nac Mac Feegle (who bungle an attempt at kidnapping a sheep and, eventually Tiffany), but they grew on me with their penchant for violence and their love of liquor. In this book, Tiffany takes on the Queen of the Fairies in order to rescue her little brother (whom she had seen as something of a nuisance).
Writing about a child prodigy can be a dangerous thing. Flavia de Luce is a good example of this. She’s interesting enough, but not at all likeable, and her preciousness drives her into the unreadable category. Like Flavia, Tiffany is a precocious child prodigy. What keeps the reader with her, however, is empathy. As the books progress and Tiffany grows up, she comes to intimately understand empathy and why it’s important in a witch: it keeps her tethered to her own sanity. She also has an unflinching sense of justice, which keeps her from becoming too irritating.
If you’re at all familiar with Pratchett, or even if you aren’t, you should definitely track this gem down: it’s funny, touching, and utterly engrossing.