THE TIFFANY ACHING SERIES By Terry Pratchett
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.” – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
Folks often lay claim to that feverish ache in the recesses of their heart they name wanderlust, making passionate many a declaration of comings and goings, of never seeing the same sky twice, of basking in the light of the setting and rising suns from opposite corners of this little globule called Earth.
But in the meantime, most of us, for most of us, we have never really walked out of the confines of that which we call home; be it out local neighbourhood, city limits or even the geographical borderlines of the country we live in.
For a long time, I struggled to not be ashamed of not being able to fit myself into the hipster club of wanderlust-drunk nomads until I came to understand that, rather than seeing it as a set of constraints; a pair of proverbial shackles, of poverty, of duty that bind me down, what if I chose to accept being rooted to a spot for what it really is; an act of unconditional love.
This is the land where I was born.
This is the land whose rains are my tears, whose winds are my sighs, whose flora and fauna breath to the steady drums of my heart. This land is the love of my life, so what cause have I to pine for another?
Thus, I am interrupted by the reader who brings to my attention that I began writing this to review Sir Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, did I not? And here I am penning a saccharine sonnet to the land of my birth instead.
The very reason, dear reader, that I find the Tiffany Aching books so close to my heart is for the fact that they are Sir Terry’s saccharine sonnets to the land of his roots. Stories that blossomed from his childhood where having a warm bath was a ritualistic occasion that took a very long time and several kettles to accomplish, where reading whatever it was that you could get your hands on was how you “got an education,” that blossomed from the memories of a little boy who had eyes that saw everything and a boisterous imagination to drive away the solitude.
In my opinion, this series feels like the most real of Sir Terry’s books because Tiffany Aching is me.
While I wasn’t an only child: growing up on a farm, I had to make do with my own company because my brother was a sickly little baby and wasn’t allowed among the animals because of his asthma. As a result, I learned to converse with cows, run with the dogs, and roll with the pigs down grassy hillsides; hair dew-curled and cobweb-draped, shins crusted in a new layer of mud for each day of the week, a know-it-all, aged nine, bossing around and issuing orders to my father’s farmhands – which in retrospect, must have made me an unbearable, glint eyed menace.
As with Tiffany, each milestone in her small country was a milestone in my own.
I had no clue at the time that it wasn’t normal to have read The Complete Works of Charles Dickens by age twelve, or to have read the dictionary back to front several times. I was quite lost when I came to realise there was nothing my English teachers could teach me by Grade Nine which ended with me spending the next two years of iGCSEs, teaching them.
I hadn’t anticipated that having a gigantic wingspan of bright, glittery feathers did not automatically qualify me to take over the heights of the sky.
Flightlessness nearly destroyed me.
I spent years succumbing to the loss of hope, years grappling with darkness and losing more battles than I won.
If I, in all my smarts and beauty and multi-faceted talent did not automatically qualify for greatness, for a front row seat in the melodramatic Opera La Vida; what was the point?
Of being the smartest, the prettiest, the most talented?
Taint what a horse looks like, it’s what a horse be.” – Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
And slowly, slower than it was for Tiffany, I began to outgrow my demons, began to accept my lot in life being overworked and underpaid; of being underappreciated.
Them as can do has to do for them as can’t. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.” – Terry Pratchett, Wee Free Men
Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series is the story of my life.
It is the story of a girl whose heart thrums to the pulse of land that gave her life.
It is the story of a girl who was the first, the girl who knew and so had to be last in order to help those who knew not.
Of the mountains that breathed on her, the forests that sang in harmony with her; it is the story of a girl whose roots run deep into the loam of her homeland, while her fingers keep reaching, always reaching for the stars above.
It was lonely on the hill, and cold. And all you could do was keep going. You could scream, cry, and stamp your feet, but apart from making you feel warmer, it wouldn’t do any good. You could say it was unfair, and that was true, but the universe didn’t care because it didn’t know what “fair” meant. That was the big problem about being a witch. It was up to you. It was always up to you.” – Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith
- Wee Free Men – 5/5
- A Hat Full of Sky – 4.5/5
- Wintersmith – 4.5/5
- I Shall Wear Midnight – 5/5
- The Shepherd’s Crown – 5/5