The 32nd Discworld book, the 3rd written for young adults, and 2nd in the Tiffany Aching series.Time has rolled on and Tiffany Aching has grown older and cleverer, but perhaps not more sensible. As far as her parents are concerned, she is off to earn a little money and see a bit of the world as an assistant to a far more experienced lady, Miss Level. And that is one-hundred percent correct. She is also going to learn witchcraft.In addition to the politics of witches to begin with, there's the continuing support of the Nac Mac Feegle, and a mysterious force known as a hiver which is drawn to Tiffany's power, and it'll take all the effort of the Feegles, all the cunning of Granny Weatherwax, and all of Tiffany's own strength, to outwit it...
This book provides examples of
Alpha Bitch: Annagramma. As stereotypical as any character gets in the Discworld.
And I Must Scream: Tiffany is still aware, and is trapped in her own mind while the Hiver is possessing her. She manages to retain some control over herself, but was weakening before the Feegles came to her aid.
Badass Cape: Deconstructed; The sheer, shimmering, midnight-black cape that hiver-Tiffany acquires from Zakzak can billow and flutter dramatically like nobody's business, but it's completely useless for keeping you warm and dry, and far too fragile for a working witch to wear.
Character Filibuster: Granny Weatherwax's rant about how "the soul and center" of witchcraft is "helpin' people when life is on the edge".
Close-Knit Community: The Chalk. Tiffany mentions they always look after each other because her grandmother expected it.
Continuity Nod: Some of the things Granny Weatherwax did in previous books are mentioned as rumours about her. In addition, the book—especially the Witch Trial sequence—is as much a sequel to the short story "The Sea and Little Fishes" as to The Wee Free Men.
Eldritch Abomination: The hiver has been around practically since the universe began. It was aware of everything at once in its natural form. The universe was a much smaller place back then, but the hiver still sees and hears everything. This is, suffice to say, traumatic, and so it hops into living minds. It gains some degree of insulation against the quantity of the universe, and in exchange it allows its victim to essentially act as pure id. It is better at being you than you are.
Played for laughs; this is how humans (or "bigjobs") treat the Feegles when they are disguised in human clothes so they can rescue Tiffany.
Evil Costume Switch: When Tiffany is possessed by the Hiver, she's inspired to raid the local witch shop, buy a cape, a tall hat, and several pieces of occult jewelry.
Geas: Rob Anybody is put under a Geas by his wife Jeannie to protect Tiffany Aching. It becomes a Running Gag that Daft Wullie keeps thinking Rob means an actual goose. Of course as Sourcery points out, there are actual birds named geas on Discworld.
Rob: "'tis a heavy thing, ta be under a geas."
Wullie: "Well, they're big birds."
Healing Herb: Played for laughs. Tiffany learns the Doctrine of Signatures from Miss Level, based on a real-life medieval idea that God placed a "signature" on every plant that indicated its medical use, to those who could read it properly. This being Discworld, the signatures are literal, and with a very close magnifying class you can read them on the stems. Sadly, plants are terrible spellers, but Miss Level has worked out a great many cures this way, such as goldenrod being good for jaundice, which turns skin yellow.
I Have to Go Iron My Dog: When Roland comes to see Tiffany off, Miss Tick mentions seeing a very nice example of a... big stone.
Opinion Flip Flop: Petulia is shown to do this, changing her opinion on sheep when Tiffany mentions how proud the Chalk folks are of their flocks. Tiffany wonders if it would be that easy to convince Petulia that the sky is green.
Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Part of Granny's rant. "That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center! The... soul... and... center!"
Shout-Out: Petulia performs her magical "pig trick" at the Witch Trials, but uses a sausage instead of a pig. In the fantasy film Willow, a stage-magic pig trick is performed using a baby instead of a pig.
Shrinking Violet: Petulia Gristle, who can't seem to speak without an "um..." somewhere in her sentences. She's also so timid that she'll turn her opinions around in order to keep out of conflict with anyone. You could tell her the sky is green and she'd agree with you.
By the end of the book, Petulia has grown enough to tell Annagramma to shut up and stop ordering people around.
Subverted later on, laying foundation for Wintersmith:
"Um . . . that was very kind of you," said Tiffany, but her treacherous Second Thoughts thought: And what would you have done if it had attacked us? She had a momentary picture of Petulia standing in front of some horrible raging thing, but it wasn't as funny as she'd first thought. Petulia would stand in front of it, shaking with terror, her useless amulets clattering, scared almost out of her mind . . . but not backing away. She'd thought there might be people facing something horrible here, and she'd come anyway.
Single-Minded Twins / Split at Birth: Ms Level is a single person with two bodies. Notably the feegles are unfazed by this: aparently they once visited a world where everyone had five bodies each, specialized for different jobs.
Suspiciously Specific Denial: The Feegles were thrown out of Fairyland for rebelling against the Elf Queen, "and no' fer being totally pished at three in th' afternoon, whatever any scunner might say!"
Take That, Critics!: Annagramma's completely wrongheaded criticism of Miss Level ("A complete amateur. Hasn't really got a clue.") is a paraphrase of the critic Tom Paulin, who once said of Pterry: "A complete amateur... doesn't even write in chapters... hasn't a clue."
Waxing Lyrical: Rob Anybody's complaint when the Feegles are pretending to be a human — "I talk to my knees but they dinna listen to me." — is almost but not quite the first line of a famous song from Paint Your Wagon. The fact that the song is completely inappropriate to the context just makes it funnier.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Halfway through the book, Rob Anybody's wife Jeannie correctly predicts that she'll soon give birth to a daughter as well as sons, and the born baby daughter makes a small, blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo at the end of the book. Two Tiffany books later, we still won't have seen anything more of their daughter.