In the second half of the third chapter of The Wee Free Men, Tiffany decides to take matters in her own hands rather than wait for an explanation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
I’m just so happy??? I don’t know how else to describe this, though I’m going to try. Tiffany’s story might include elements we’ve seen elsewhere in the Discworld series—namely, the importance of stories, parallel worlds, a character realizing their own power—and yet this is SO EXCITING TO READ. There’s a pluckiness to Tiffany’s characterization, and I can’t deny that she’s got such a fascinating energy because of it. It’s not that she has no doubts or that she’s fearless. Indeed, you can see her reluctance and uncertainty all throughout this chapter. Hell, I’d argue that every witch we’ve ever met has been afraid, terrified, and unsure. But if there’s any one single thing that makes it clear that Tiffany was bound to be a witch, it’s what she does with that uncertainty. For example: when she watches a ram get carted off by the Nac Mac Feegle, here’s her reaction:
She pushed her way through the hedge, ignoring the twigs that scratched at her. Granny Aching wouldn’t have let anyone get away with stealing a sheep, even if they were invisible.
Tiffany commits. She pushes past pain and personal harm, and she derives her motivation from her idol, Granny Aching. And throughout this text, it’s clear that Granny Aching shaped Tiffany into the young woman she is today! And while I am totally into seeing how Tiffany will find strength without looking toward someone else, I don’t think this is a bad thing at all. Granny Aching was a positive role model for Tiffany, and there’s nothing wrong with this young girl finding inspiration in her life.
So it’s cool to see her realize that there’s no escaping the Nac Mac Feegle and their interfering. Rather, she begins to fulfill this rule that’s been thrust upon her life. She uses the power of perception to get what she wants, AND IF THAT ISN’T A WITCH TRAIT THEN I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS. It’s a bit of headology, isn’t it??? Seriously, half of the things that she gets in this chapter come from STARING. THAT. IS. IT. She just stares at the Feegle, and they’re so intimidated that they do all of her chores. ALL OF THEM. She starts with demanding they bring her sheep back, and from there, it’s a cascade. IT’S BEAUTIFUL. But I’d also argue that it’s an important lesson in what being a witch is like! Like I said, she’s using perception to her favor. These Feegle believe she is the “hag,” so she acts as if she is.
Of course, she’s got a lot to learn:
When I’m a witch with a pointy hat and a broomstick, she thought as she pumped the handle, I’ll wave my hand and the butter will come just like that. And any little red-headed devils who even think about taking our beasts will be—
Oh, Tiffany. I get why she believes that. It’s a matter of perception, too, though from the opposite direction. It seems like that’s what happens when witches work their powers, when for the most part, witches in this universe aren’t working traditional magic. The magic they use is much more like the glares and stern words Tiffany uses. But it’s not like Tiffany knows this! She is just starting out on this journey. She doesn’t know why the Feegle are behaving as they are. (And for what it’s worth, neither does Miss Tick’s toad, who is flabbergasted that the Feegle DID CHORES FOR TIFFANY.) She doesn’t know why she suddenly and inexplicably slipped into an alternate version of Chalk where there is a HEADLESS HORSEMAN IN THE SNOW. And she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do with all this new information and this encroaching world, but guess what? GUESS WHAT HER REACTION IS???
“All the monsters are coming back.”
“There’s no one to stop them.”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s me,” said Tiffany.
I WILL FIGHT WARS FOR TIFFANY ACHING.
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