I shall wear midnight for Terry Pratchett

It is too early to begin contemplating the enormous loss to literature, and our lives, that will follow Terry Pratchett‘s sad passing today. The news has upset me too deeply to write at length, but I wanted to add my small voice to the millions who will surely be mourning Terry Pratchett’s death and celebrating his life over the coming days.

My 2013 review of his novel I Shall Wear Midnight, expresses some of my feelings.

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett (2010)I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude to Terry Pratchett, not just for the pleasure his writing has given me, but for demonstrating what can happen when intelligence, humour and IDEAS work together.

How people think they can achieve anything seriously worthwhile without humour is beyond me. But it’s worse than that. Our world is run – and our ‘important thinking’ done, predominantly, by people who feel humour is out of place in the world of ideas. It is relegated to the status of ‘light’ entertainment. But humour can offer another kind of light.

I Shall Wear Midnight‘ is an excellent example of what I’m talking about. It can be enjoyed from start to end with great pleasure. There is comic relief in spades from the Nac Mac Feegle (err… perhaps spades is not the best word…). But ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ is also a serious book, with a serious foe in The Cunning Man. He is the pungent, lingering hate of a long-dead witch-smeller, who generates hate wherever he goes because ‘poison goes where poison’s welcome’. Fortunately on the Discworld, a witch-hunt will lead to a witch – in this case Tiffany Aching – who will put a stop to things.

There are plenty of extraordinary people in our world who would stand up to a Cunning Man, if only it were that simple. The causes of hate and fear are more complex, but we have our cunning men and women too. They don’t dress in black or give off pungent aromas of evil, but often masquerade as ‘respectable’, sometimes unassailable, pillars of the community. The job of unmasking our villains in high places so often falls to our courageous comedians. With humour perhaps our only weapon, it’s unsurprising to find our institutions and establishments so devoid of it.

Long live Terry Pratchett!

From my 2013 Blog Piece ‘I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett’

We have lost more than a wonderful author with his passing.


18 thoughts on “I shall wear midnight for Terry Pratchett

  1. In a blog post I wrote mentioning Wodehouse, a reader highly recommended to me her favorite humor writer, Terry Pratchett. So I promised this year to read him. I’ve just finished, not two weeks ago, my first Discworld book. I can see why he had so many devoted fans. I will be sure to add “I Shall Wear Midnight” to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so pleased you have found his stuff. It took me a few attempts, as I’m not a Fantasy reader generally, but once I hit upon the right book, there was no looking back. I’m devastated by the news today.


      1. That’s the thing, Honoria, I am not a Fantasy reader at all and the first Discworld book was waaaay out of my reading comfort zone. But there is something about the fervor his readers have for him that attracts me and I will read more! One reader of mine adored “Mort.” In the Discworld book I read there is a character “the luggage.” How could you not love a guy who dreams up a murderous piece of luggage with hundreds of little legs?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was first introduced to Pratchett via his early books by a friend who thought him wonderful. Although I enjoyed his imagination and found his writing style pacy and funny, I was irritated because I felt he wasn’t pushing himself enough and the strong vein of American frat-boy humour, that was its main appeal to my (male) friend, distinctly off-putting. Then, about ten years later, I discovered the ones featuring the Lancre Witches and Susan Sto-Helit and began looking out for others.

    The wonderful Tiffany Aching series helped me through a pretty bad time, though I haven’t read anything new since ‘Wintersmith’ (no money) so, after hearing he’d died, I was prompted to look online for any other good female characters in the books he’d written since.

    Although ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’ looked excellent, I was rather disquieted to read an outline of ‘Snuff’ particularly as a comment by A. S. Byatt seemed to imply that Pratchett was revelling in his detailed descriptions of all the unpleasantnesses.

    Could you give me a considered opinion? From what I’ve read it looks as though Pratchett himself had succumbed to the lures of the Cunning Man – and that would just be incredibly disheartening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I strongly recommend to you, the series of books involving the witches. I believe Equal Rites is the first, but is my least favourite and you could easily start elsewhere — Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, or my favourite Carpe Jugulum.

      Terry Pratchett created female characters who were old, young, plump, grumpy, and outcast . He created characters , like Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (my all time favourite literary heroine) whose demise I am mourning as much as their creator’s.

      I really hope you have an opportunity to discover them.


      1. I think your usually incisive mind is still feeling sad because you’ve misread my post – the witches books were how I got into Pratchett.

        But thanks for the nice reply anyway.

        I wouldn’t make any important decisions today …

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So sorry Victoria. I have to confess… I have had a busy week at work and have been skipping lunch breaks. I have been peeking at your comments and responding in the time it takes to boil a kettle — which I can see is giving you short shrift, but I have been so keen to read your thoughts and respond . Sometimes a little more patience is warranted. …


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