Moving right along with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, we find ourselves back with Tiffany Aching, who we first met a couple of books ago in The Wee Free Men. Tiffany is now eleven, and is about to be apprenticed to a senior witch.
The Nac Mac Feegle are still around, keeping an eye on their “Hag” and generally being themselves.
And this one is all about being yourself. There’s a nasty and ancient thing called a Hiver roaming about, and when Tiffany steps outside herself to see how she looks, the Hiver gets in, with, err, unfortunate consequences.
Granny Weatherwax is on hand to help Tiffany – and it’s interesting that we get to see her from the outside, especially through Tiffany’s eyes. She’s revealed as not being as tall as she generally make herself appear, and showing signs of her age. Indeed, there’s a general feeling of Granny beginning to pass on her status to a new generation.
But there’s loads of fun along the way. Here we have Tiffany talking to Miss Level, the quite unusual witch who’s been assigned to teach her.
“Mistress Weatherwax is the head witch then, is she?”
“Oh no!” said Miss Level, looking shocked. “Witches are all equal. We don’t have things like head witches. That’s quite against the spirit of witchcraft.”
“Oh, I see,” said Tiffany.
“Besides,” Miss Level added, “Mistress Weatherwax would never allow that kind of thing.”
When Tiffany questions Granny’s way of treating people (such cunning techniques as sending a man for a daily walk), we gain a bit of insight:
“Never mind, miss,” she said. “Look at it this way. Tomorrow, your job is to change the world into a better place. Today, my job is to see that everyone gets there.”
I like that.
Then there’s the Witch Trials, not to be confused with the similarly named things that happened on this world, this is an event where witches gather to demonstrate what they’ve learned how to do. No prizes, no judges, just an opportunity to show your stuff. Not a competition.
And if you believed that you’d believe that the moon was pushed around the sky by a goblin called Wilberforce.
And when Tiffany passes another of Granny’s tests…
“Well done,” she said quietly. “If you don’t know when to be a human being, you don’t know when to be a witch. And if you’re too afraid of goin’ astray, you won’t go anywhere.”
Once again, you shouldn’t be fooled by the “for younger readers” label. This is Terry Pratchett at his best, getting deep inside the heads of his characters, and showing us one of his greatest ones in a different light.
 Her only mirror is a wee bit small and dull