I would advise you to read this. Terry Pratchett's fantasy novels are rarely stories about evil villains who are plotting to destroy the world, and this is no exception. This is a story about human defect with fantasy overtones. An evil ghost has returned to kill Tiffany, and has used its ancient hate to turn the people of the Chalk against her. This ghost exemplifies the worst in humanity. It is petty, it takes things out of context, it hates things which it loves. It is worse than the Queen, the Hiver, and the Wintersmith. The Clever Man is human.
On other fronts, Tiffany has had to come to terms with and address the fact that time has brought a wedge between her and Roland, her almost boyfriend.
The climax of this story is notably sad, and very dark. There is a happy ending, and I think that Tiffany was happy.
Of all the Tiffany Aching books this is probably the only one I would not give to a under 12 year old kid to listen on their own. I would want to be there to explain things. Tiffany heals a pregnant girl who was beaten by her father to the point of miscarriage, she prevents a suicide, she has to deal with an entire town turned against her. She acts responsibly in the face off all this. I think that this is one of Pratchett's bests books, and am happy that this is wrapping up the Aching series, as well as the Witches series.
What can I say, I love the Feegles and this is an excellent addition to the series. Cheers, Sir Terry!
If you love Terry Pratchett already, you'll love this book. He has a rambling kind of social commentary that is indeed very clever. The narration is great and the characters are well-developed. But there's not a strong plot. I just came off reading Garth Nix (who has the opposite problem) and I found this book to be a bit TOO light. I kept waiting for key developments, then I realized it's about the journey through the characters lives. I don't dislike the book, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for.
He's back in the game - after Nation, I was afraid my favorite author was too discouraged about life to write any more of the joy-filled work I so loved. He's been proving me wrong ever since and I am heartily ashamed of myself for doubting him.
Tiffany's adventures are perfect for young girls, unlike most fantasy marketed to young adults.
Characters are well-drawn. The village and its culture on the Chalk feels like I could book a plane ticket there, it's so real. Magic is well-developed and believable, as are its limitations. Tiffany's strengths and flaws are balanced and leave her as a lovable, yet strong, young woman and a great role model, too. I also love Preston, one of several new characters, whose mind works in its own unique way - that's quite a feat of writing, in my opinion, to show us so clearly that one character is so different from another.
In short, strongly recommended. Buy it for your niece, too, like I did!
Nothing better than some Tiffany Aching in your stocking. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs truly make magic.
Having listened to the first three Tiffany Aching stories, I really enjoyed seeing her growing up and becoming - if not an adult, something close to one. The portrait of her dealing with her responsibilities as the Witch of the Chalk was really charming.
Terry Pratchett's books range from OK to brilliant. The first Tiffany Aching story (The Wee Free Men) is absolutely brilliant. This one is good, but just can't quite reach those heights. It's got all the things that make a Pratchett story good: solid social commentary wrapped in a humorous story, laugh-out-loud fun, characters who seem to step out of the page, and characters who are charmingly larger than life. And while it was a quite enjoyable listen, it didn't quite pull off the magic (no pun intended) brilliance that his best stories can achieve.
A good reader has different voices for different characters, and tones of voice which express the emotions of the story. But Stephen Briggs is beyond a good reader, he's spectacular. He's right up there with Jim Dale in my pantheon of brilliant readers. When Mr. Briggs is reading, the entire world around me becomes the story - so real I think I can reach out and touch it.
This story is full of fun characters, so it depends on what kind of dinner I was going to. If it was a dinner party, with plenty of people and lots of fun, I'd definitely take Nanny Ogg. She's a minor character in this story, but her zest for life would turn any gathering into a party.
And if it was a small group, I'd take Preston the guard out to dinner. I love the way he thinks about the sounds and feel of words.
The late Terry Pratchett...I'll miss him.
Sir Terry is full of humorous quips and anecdotes, so when I read a story as dark as this one, it tends to make me proceed cautiously. I honestly have no idea how Tiffany didn't beat the daylights out of everyone, but I am happy I stuck it out through the blacker bits. Also, I cried at the end. Hooray for the best witch ever!
Saddened that there will be no more additions to this wonderful story. Rip Terry Pratchett
Fans of the Tiffany Aching books will no doubt enjoy this next progression in her journey to adulthood and role as witch of the Chalk. For such a centered and mature young lady at the outset of the book, Tiffany still has much to learn, but as always, she is more than ready for the challenge.
For those who have read other Discworld novels, you may enjoy the cameos of the City Watch and the triumphant return of Eskarina Smith as much as I did. Esk was first introduced and last seen in the third Discworld novel, "Equal Rites." As a point of reference, this novel is the 38th in the Discwold, so you can imagine how nice it is to see her return!
However, despite my happiness with the novel as a whole, I did take issue with the central villain, the Cunning Man. His motivations felt obscure and his attacks random. And while this may indeed have been intentional, perhaps as an echo of prejudice in general, the resolution did not seem satisfying. To compare, the Hiver in "A Hat Full of Sky" had a similar role in the novel, but had an arc resolution that both motivated and enriched the Hiver itself, but also Tiffany. With the Cunning Man, I didn't get the same sense of thematic connection.
Criticisms of the plot aside, Stephen Briggs continues to do a wonderful job narrating the Discworld, especially the Nac Mac Feegles.
All in all, I would highly recommend this to fans of Tiffany Aching (who would probably not even need more of a reason to listen to this anyway) but would not suggest anyone start their journey in the Discworld here.