I’m rereading “The Wee Free Men” as part of my ongoing Terry Pratchett kick, which started a few days before the event of his death, and has since just sort of kept on going. This particular book means a lot to me. It’s bringing back so many memories of listening to the Tony Robinson audio book before going to sleep, equal parts terrified and thrilled- I can still hear bits in his voice as I read. I’ve said it so many times, but the philosophies to be found in the Witches books in general and the Tiffany books in particular have always struck a chord with me on a very deep, almost primal level. More than just the one chord, actually- reading them sets off a veritable symphony inside my head, heart and soul. The thoughts therein on the nature of balance, and narrative, and duty, and magic, and identity, and community, and a whole host of other things have all been so incredibly influential in shaping the way I write and think. I whisper paragraphs aloud to myself and I think I might cry.
There is, of course, the lighter side of things- the Hedgehog Song, for instance, Nanny Ogg’s cookbook, the stuff about the maypoles and the broomsticks, and the Nac Mac Feegles being… well, Feegles. But even then, I’ll turn a page and the story will turn to the power that belongs to the Kelda, or the parasitic nature of the Fairy Queen. Even the jokes about the fear and respect the Chalk Clan of Feegles have for writing things down is a not-so-subtle nod to a theme that crops up again and again across the entire Discworld series- words have power, words are magic, stories are alive and hungry, raw ideas moreso.
I feel like those books handed me that iron frying pan and said “Here’s your weapon. Go face the monsters with it. They’re coming for you anyway, you may as well be prepared.” They gave me the key to the universe when I didn’t even know it was locked. And they taught me, not how to work magic, but how I might go about crafting the tools with which to do so.
And all because Tiffany Aching, who was nine years old, had decided she wanted to be a witch when she grew up.