In the third chapter of I Shall Wear Midnight, HI, WHAT THE FUCK!!! What’s coming? What is coming??? If you’re intrigued, then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
You know, this chapter made me see the first one a little differently. So much of what happens here is grounded in what has come before. The dynamic that exists between Rob and Jeannie, or Jeannie and the Feagles as a whole, or Jeannie and Tiffany, is all rooted in a texture and a nuance that comes from experience. Even things like the new entrance to the mound speak to a history: the Feegles expect Tiffany to visit, and they’ve accommodated the fact that she continues to grow. It’s a new element to a tradition, to an expectation. She’s their hag, and she’ll be their hag until she can’t be.
Which is part of the point, I suspect. Tiffany has fully submersed herself in this life, y’all, and that’s the sense I’ve gotten from these chapters. And that explains why Pratchett wrote the first chapter as he did. Yes, it could still function as an introduction of sorts to the world of witches, the Chalk, and Tiffany Aching. But it works as well to guide more familiar readers to a specific place: one where we understand what is expected of Tiffany, we see how she’s fulfilled this role so expertly, and then—only then!—does Pratchett introduce us to a more complicated internal reality for her.
That comes up again here, but it’s Jeannie who brings about this struggle, even though Tiffany isn’t quite ready to openly talk about it. (For the record, I’m operating under the assumption I made at the end of the video for this chapter. Tiffany brought Amber here specifically to have a safe place to heal. Not only is it quiet and secluded, but it’s also somewhere Mr. Petty cannot get into.) The mound of the Feegles feels both sacred and safe, even if the Feegles themselves are pretty ridiculous, but Tiffany also has a strong relationship with their kelda, built off of experiences in past books. They do trust one another, and this line was a great way to establish that:
It sounded like a silly question, but Jeannie was never silly.
And the question Jeannie asked was so simple, too!
“Can you remember yesterday?”
Tiffany could, and she recounted a long, tiring, and active day working her steading, which all seems pretty normal, except that she mentioned only ONE MEAL. And no sleep. And we know she only got an hour the night before, since the whole Petty business woke her up. So Jeannie’s warning is not just about the premonition or the gut instinct she has. Yes, something wrong is coming, and I don’t know what that could possibly be. (What would “stir” in response to Tiffany’s experience with the Wintersmith?) But also? Tiffany is working so very, very hard, skipping meals (unintentionally) and getting very little sleep. Jeannie’s concerned about Tiffany’s well-being and how that might affect her facing whatever it is that’s coming.
It’s not what I expected from the book, but it is an interesting new dynamic for me to keep in mind as I read this. Tiffany is doing a fantastic job as the witch of the Chalk. But she’s not putting herself first at all; she’s constantly elevating others above her own needs. And trust me, from experience? This is not sustainable. She has to start caring for herself, or something will break down.
Ugh, what’s coming??? What stirred in their slumber???
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