Mark Reads ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’: Chapter 11

In the eleventh chapter of I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany takes a trip with Letitia and discovers something awful. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Oh, y’all, there’s so much subtle shit done here that demonstrates Pratchett’s knowledge of class and wealth. Let me first start with something Letitia says that Tiffany lets pass without comment, BUT I CANNOT DO THE SAME.

“All that gets in the way, and if you excuse me, I really wish that I had been born with your disadvantages.”

Hi, maybe don’t say this to people? I’ve had more privileged folks say that they wish they grew up like me because I have such a good work ethic. As if that was the only ramification of growing up poor and brown? Like that was the only thing I got out of it? But I think Tiffany gets where she’s coming from, and even I have sympathy for Letitia in this specific context. The environment she was in was so repressive and restrictive; she couldn’t explore being a witch in any real sense because of it. So, that’s one of the major reasons why Tiffany can’t believe what Letitia has told her. How has a bogus bit of spellwork produced such powerful magic? It makes no sense to her! It’s all Boffo magic, an illusion, a thing that makes non-witches feel like they’re playing at witchcraft. 

And then the details start coming in. First: Letitia did her magic in a library. A room of books, all of which have their own power, but can accumulate life and power when placed near other books. So, there was a clue to a possible explanation, and it made so much sense that Tiffany had to go to the Keepsake home in order to find out the truth. The hare had to run into the fire, right?

The fire, in this case, is the Keepsake manor. Mansion? Who knows! The home is RIDICULOUS, complete with two hundred and fifty servants, give or take. Which never stops feeling ludicrous and absurd, but Pratchett does give Letitia a chance to explain why there are so many and how that relates to her mother’s sense of loyalty. I mean… it’s still a lot? They have a fishery??? A pineaple pit? A whole house just for water-lilies? Come on, that’s a LOT.

Anyway, once inside the house, Tiffany has another epiphany, and you can watch me come to the same realization on video: the house is Letitia’s steading, and her people? The ghosts that haunt the mansion. She helps the GHOSTS!!! It’s so witchy, first of all, but it’s also a sign that Letitia, without any training at all, knew what to instinctually do. Can you imagine what she’ll be like once she apprentices alongside an actual witch? Oh god, is this one of the reasons the Duchess hates witches so much? Has she always suspected that her daughter can do magic? 

That’s a totally separate point, though, and I wonder if Letitia will confront her mother over this. In the meantime, let’s discuss the library. It now makes so much sense that a book lover like Letitia would internalize the notion that because she didn’t look like a stereotypical witch, she wasn’t allowed to be one. And yet, it’s in the library that Letitia sets her fate into motion, all through intention and a bit of coincidence. Y’all, I can’t get over the fact that this family just casually owns one of the most evil books ever, and to them, it’s just a collector’s item. Like, that’s the most spot-on commentary on the rich in this whole book! I think you could even view the “spell” as a commentary, too, since Letitia played with something she did not understand, and in doing so, she set the Cunning Man on Tiffany. But that’s not the sole thing going on here. Letitia used intention to make her magic real, and it’s clear that there’s raw talent in her, talent that is in desperate need for some training. It is also darkly fitting that a witch who is repressed, who is upset over her fiancé’s friendship with another woman, and who is in a remarkably vulnerable state, is the one to be exploited by the Cunning Man. It adds a little subtle layer of evil to it all. 

I can’t, y’all. The Keepsakes own The Bonfire of the Witches. THEY OWN THE CUNNING MAN’S HIGHLY VIOLENT AND MISOGYNIST AND ANTI-WITCH BOOK. They just have it!!! Laying around!!! I’m still reeling from this. But at least Letitia is very willing to stop this and to do Tiffany right. It starts with an apology; there’s a gift, too. And I do hope Letitia tells Roland the truth. Is that going to help? Maybe. I’m not certain. He’s so far in his own grief that I’m not sure he wants to hear the truth, you know? At least not yet. But what does give me hope is the growing… well, I don’t know what to call it. Friendship? Collaboration? Understanding? There’s something growing between Tiffany and Letitia, and it’s heartwarming to see it unfolding at the end of this caste. Both of them are trying hard to understand one another, and I think they’re going to need to it to survive the horrible things that are to come. Oh, I don’t know what’s coming next; I’m just assuming it’s awful. I AM BRACING MYSELF.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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