I’ve read most of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels, but I’d never gotten around to his Tiffany Aching series til this month. These books are pitched as more for children than the main Discworld sequence (which doesn’t explain why my local library stored them, in order, in YA Fiction, Adult SF, YA Fiction again, and finally the Children’s section).
I’d say they’re enjoyable, but not as much so as the main books (try Witches Abroad, instead, which I’ve just gotten onto my gentleman caller’s queue). And I don’t find the ribald pixies that assist Tiffany entertaining in proportion to their page time. But one thing that was fun is getting to see my favorite Discworld character, Granny Weatherwax, as a peripheral player in someone else’s story.
In A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany delivers the following rebuke (not to Granny’s face).
“You test people all the time, test, test, test, but you really want them to be clever enough to beat you. Because it must be hard, being the best. You’re not allowed to stop. You can only be beaten, and you’re too proud to ever lose. Pride! You’ve turned it into terrible strength, but it eats away at you. Are you afraid to laugh in case you hear an early cackle?”
It seems like one of the best possible rejoinders to the arrogant Ghost’s arguments in C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Tiffany’s portrait of pride reveals it as fundamentally fearful and covetous. To jump magic novels, it puts me in mind of this passage from Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead
She was levitating two inches above the ground and would have reprimanded herself had she noticed. Levitation was a reflex of immature Craftsmen. Students floated in the air to feel in tune with the universe, but, like any unnatural posture, hovering caused more tension than it relieved.
Sin is exhausting because it’s unnatural. It contorts our feeling and our hearts into postures that feel strained. Though, even when we notice the pain, we’re prone to misinterpret that ache as a feeling of power expressed, instead of wasted.