Entries in witches (11)

Thursday
Feb212019

No Man of Woman Born

As I understand it from what the author, Ana Mardoll, has tweeted about this collection, it was a response to/inspired by Eowyn from LotR and her slaying of the Witch King who no man could kill. This is a collection of short stories full of similar tales with trans and non-binary people as the main characters.

The stories overall are delightful and the characters are often precious cinnamon buns too pure for this world. Some of them fall pretty flat, but some of them are incredible and I love them (so par for the course with most short story collections).

I loved a lot of these stories, some of them original and some of them giving a fun, queer twist to classics like Sleeping Beauty and The Sword in the Stone. It was great to see such a queerly diverse array of characters out living their best lives and saving the day.

I especially liked seeing the gender fluid character and another questioning his gender and where he fits on the binary. The stories gave me a greater understanding of just what gender fluid means. And it was also nice to see someone going through the process of questioning gender, even if he didn't quite get to any decisions (most of us never do anyway).

My only real problem with this collection is the writing itself. There's often too much telling and too much backstory, often delivered in the form of lengthy flashbacks that honestly got distracting and killed the momentum of many of the stories. But they're also really short, so it wasn't that hard to push through and get to the end. And the end of each story was absolutely worth it.

This is a great collection for allies looking for a deeper understanding, people who like fantasy and aren't squicky about queer content, and for anyone trans, non-binary or questioning who are tired of the Bury Your Gays trope and just need to see someone like them be the hero.

Monday
Jun112018

Wintersmith

This was a Tiffany Aching book in the Discworld series and it was pretty good. Granny Weatherwax's scheming remains my favourite part of the book, but that should be obvious by now. I didn't really feel like this was as strong as some of the others, though. It's got a lot of the same old.

Anyway, Tiffany has gotten herself tangled up in the story of the seasons, the dance between winter and summer, and ends up with the Wintersmith out to get win her affection the only way he knows how... by burying everything in snow and ice.

All while Tiffany is still navigating the duties of witching and trying to learn from Granny's unorthodox lessons.

This one was shorter on humour than some of the others and I also didn't find it as deep emotionally. Still a good read for Discworld fans.

Friday
Jan122018

A Hat Full of Sky

First book of the new year! Woohoo! This was the second book in the Tiffany Aching part of Discworld and it's really good. I listened to it on audio, but as I've mentioned elsewhere, I don't love the format. I expect at some point in the near future, I will be buying all the Tiffany Aching paperbacks. I've got one in hardcover, since I bought The Shepherd's Crown when it came out.

I've only got 4 or 5 Discworld audiobooks left, and I don't think I'll get anymore once I'm done. They've been an interesting way to spend my lunch break, but I just really don't love the format, plus they get pricey. Print books it is!

One of the reasons I love print so much, is that when there's a REALLY good line or scene in a book, I like to go back and re-read it. And that's just really hard to do with audio. I always find myself picking up the print book afterward anyway, so I might as well just stick with my favourite format, though it'd be REALLY FUCKING AWESOME if the publishing industry could figure out bundling.

Anyway, speaking of good lines, I really like this one from this book:
Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. ... Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

This stuck with me not just because it's the exact reason I love to travel, but also because I have moved a long long way from where I started out.

I guess this book is a sort of rite of passage book, which I don't really like, but this one is funny and cute and a little bit dark. It's got the first really good interactions between Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax, and an awesome assist from the Feegles.

In this book, Tiffany leaves her home on the Chalk to begin apprenticing as a witch in the mountains. There are a lot of great characters around her in this story, and it's a good thing, because a Hiver, an ancient creature that can't be killed, has locked on to Tiffany and threatens to destroy her.

With some encouragement from Granny, a whole lot of smarts, and a good measure of empathy, Tiffany sees herself through the ordeal. I love the way Tiffany brings out a new side of Granny, a sort of vulnerable, candid honesty that we don't see with the other witches.

This is definitely not an entry point to Discworld or Tiffany or the witches, but it's an excellent read. I frequently see people asking where to start with Discworld and there's a lot of opinions out there. But honestly, I started right at the very beginning with The Colour of Magic and I don't regret it.

Pratchett's earlier novels aren't nearly as good as these ones near the end of the series, but they're still excellent. If you try starting with Rincewind and it's not cutting it, you could probably start with Mort or Wyrd Sisters or even Witches Abroad. By that point, Pratchett is really starting to find his rhythm and starting later means missing out on some good world-building and character foundations.

Monday
Nov202017

The Wee Free Men

Oops. I read this book closer to the beginning of the month, but it's NaNoWriMo and I'm lucky I can remember my own name these days.

Anyway, this is the first Tiffany Aching book, and another in the witches series. It's also branded as a YA, but it really doesn't feel like one at all. I feel like that's a marketing gimmick. Aside from Tiffany, the MC, being 9 years old, basically nothing about this is YA at all. The tone and content of this book is the same as any other in the Discworld series.

So, much like Lords and Ladies, this book is about the elves and their terrible queen. She's trying for another invasion of Discworld, but she's got to go through Tiffany first. Tiffany receives a smidge of mentoring from Miss Tick (another witch) before she goes off for help, leaving Tiffany on her own against the queen. Who steals Tiffany's little brother.

While Lords and Ladies has all manner of fairytale critters leaking into the "real" world, Tiffany spends a good chunk of the book confronting the queen on her own turf. She has some help from the Wee Free Men (aka Nac Mac Feegle) who we've seen a little of in past witches books.

This is a great book with an excellent new character and has all the humour I've missed from this series in recent books. It's got some heavy stuff too about family and honouring the memory of those passed, and also about self-discovery and identity. Tiffany goes from being a precocious, no-nonsense little girl to a full blown witch. And it's an amazing journey.

The showdown between Tiffany and the queen at the end left me in tears. And getting to see a glimpse of Tiffany interacting with Granny Weatherwax has me excited for the next book.

And one nice thing about The Wee Free Men is that it can be a starting point to Discworld for anyone who hasn't read any of the series before. Parts of it would make a little more sense if you've read the other witches books, but it's not necessary. So if you've wanted to give Discworld a try and aren't sure about some of the other novels, give this one a try.

Friday
Apr142017

Carpe Jugulum

Since I've been sick, I haven't done much else but read for quite some time. I've done enough reading that the number of books I've finished is way ahead of my blogging. It's been almost a week since I finished reading this one and I've got another finished book in queue and one more I'll probably finish over the weekend.

Anyway, since it's been a week or so since I finished reading this one, I don't remember a lot of the details. That in itself kind of says a lot about this book. It was still excellent because Pratchett was a genius, but as far as the Discworld novels go, it was kinda meh.

There were some antics out of Nanny Ogg, but nothing you wouldn't expect. Magrat barely put in an appearance and was obnoxiously "mommy war new age omg I'm gonna barf" when she was around. Granny Weatherwax was absent and/or unconscious through most of it. So this was another one that was mostly about Agnes. And really, I'm just not digging Agnes.

But once Granny came out of her cave and later regained consciousness, well damn she was her usual force to be reckoned with. And she made me laugh out loud, loud enough to scare my dog. Heh.

So in this book, King Verence rather stupidly invites vampires into his kingdom and home. They turn everyone into cattle. Granny and Agnes both have to face their innerselves (many selves, in Agnes's case) in order to save the day. Agnes's split personality is basically the only thing that saves them.

It's got a bit of a Sleeping Beauty vibe at the beginning, with Granny Weatherwax painted as some sort of Maleficent, but that falls away pretty quickly and the book moves to roasting vampire lore. Which I'm fine with because I've never been big on stories with vampires anyway.

The wee free men make their first appearance and I definitely look forward to more of them! I'm curious to see what happens with Agnes next, if anything... I know she leaves at some point to make room for Tiffany Aching in the coven.

A "meh" Discworld book is still leaps and bounds better than a lot of what's out there, so overall this is still a great book. If you've been reading Discworld, you want to read this one. If you haven't been reading Discworld... Well? What are you waiting for?