Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
Published : The Dial Press/Quantum, 1980
Series : Book 1 of the Snow Queen Cycle
Awards Won : Hugo, Locus SF Awards
Awards Nominated : Nebula Award

The Book :

In the world of Tiamat, power changes hands every 150 years, due to the periodic opening and closing of a galactic stargate.  During the winter cycle, the Snow Queen reigns, and technophile ‘Winters’ live in a society supported by contact with people from the Hegemony, a government that spans a number of worlds.  At the end of this cycle, the Snow Queen and all the world’s technology are sacrificed as the offworlders leave through their closing stargate. Then begins the reign of the Summer Queen, and the primitive, superstitious Summers.

The current Snow Queen, Arienrhod, has no intention of relinquishing her power and watching her technological world collapse. Though she has many schemes to change the cycle, one involves her own clone, a young woman named Moon.  Raised as a Summer and in love with her cousin Sparks, Moon has her own ideas about what her life will hold.  She intends to be a sibyl, a wise woman of the Summers who can channel answers to nearly any question.  However, the fates of Moon, Sparks, and Arienrhod may not be theirs to control…” ~Allie   

 This is the first novel I’ve read by Joan D. Vinge, which makes it my 3rd novel in the Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge.  The Snow Queen is from relatively early in her writing career, four years after her 1976 nomination for John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for the novelette “Tin Soldier” (published in 1974).  The Snow Queen is the first book of the Snow Queen Cycle, but it stands alone as a novel.  I’m not sure whether or not I will continue the series, simply because the story does seem complete.

My Thoughts:

At its heart, The Snow Queen is a science-fictional retelling of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen.  I thought it was a very interesting idea, moving the basic story of a fairy tale into an elaborate science fiction setting.  The feel of the story included kind of a clash of mysticism with science.  For one clear example, the Winters were a heavily science and technology focused people, while the Summers were more religious and had many mystical beliefs.  The cycles had both a pragmatic purpose for the Hegemony and a spiritual significance for the Tiamatans.  For another example, the purpose and identity of the sibyls had both a scientific and a more spiritual basis.  It was interesting to see how these different perspectives clashed and melded together.

The story was told through many viewpoint characters, each of which was complex and engaging.  Even though the Snow Queen Arienrhod was clearly an evil villain, she still had her own goals and justifications for her actions.  Moon and Sparks are cast in the roles of the main characters from the original fairy tale.  I felt that the story might have been a little too loyal in following the original tale, which gave Moon and Sparks a few personality characteristics that seemed a bit too exaggerated.  For instance, Moon’s innocence and purity of heart led nearly everyone she met to love her and want to help her, and Sparks was ridiculously impressionable. Other viewpoint characters I particularly enjoyed included the police inspector Jerusha PalaThion and the sketchy minor criminal Tor Starhiker.  They may have not always been directly involved with the main plot, but Jerusha’s story of being professionally sabotaged and Tor’s story of trying to make her way in the world were both engaging in their own right.  The cast of the story is enormous, even beyond the viewpoint characters.  While that may have made it a little difficult to get into initially, I ended up enjoying the wideness of the world and the many memorable people that populated it.

The pacing of the story sometimes seemed a little uneven, but I was equivalently interested in the daily politics of Jerusha’s police headquarters as I was in the fate of the Snow Queen and Tiamat.  My curiosity about the lives of each of the characters (event the minor ones) held my interest through the more mundane parts of the story.  I think that if one were singularly invested in the main story between Sparks, Moon and Arienrhod, there are parts that might seem to drag.  In that main story, there were parts of the conclusion that left me unconvinced.  Some things that are acceptable in a fairy tale seem extremely naïve and irresponsible when duplicated within more realistic interpersonal interactions.  All the same, I appreciated how all the viewpoint characters stories came together, and how each of them played a role in the final act of the tale.       

My Rating : 4/5

The Snow Queen moves the well-known Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale into a complicated science fiction setting.  With the combination of the two genres, there is also an interesting merging of atmospheres in the societies of Tiamat.  The story follows half a dozen viewpoint characters and many more interesting minor characters, in a world that seems large and clearly imagined.  For me, the stories of the more minor viewpoint characters sometimes outshone the central story of Sparks, Moon and the Snow Queen.  While I sometimes felt it was a little too loyal to the original fairy tale in terms of events and characterization, there was still plenty to enjoy in the many subplots and characters. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Read-Along: Part 3 of A Hat Full of Sky

This read-along is of chapters 6-9 of Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky, again hosted by Dab of Darkness and Little Red Reviewer.  It looks like the second half of the Tiffany Aching series may be read as a group this fall, so there's plenty of time to catch up. Also, have a Happy Easter this weekend!

This read-along will have spoilers of the Tiffany Aching series through chapter 9 of A Hat Full of Sky.

I got a chuckle out of Tiffany's visit to ZakZak's shop, especially the bit about the different styles of witch hats. What kind of witchy goodies would YOU buy there?

It all seemed a bit too kitchsy for me. If I were a witch, I think I would probably just shop at ordinary clothing stores, and maybe get a nice pentagram necklace or something, to signify 'witch'.  As for the hat, I'd go for something sensible and small, so I wouldn't have to cut triangles in my doorframes.  When I think more about it, though, capes are pretty awesome.  I would love to buy a nice, heavy, black cape from Zakzak's for winter.  Why aren't those in fashion now? I want a cape!

Inside Tiffany's head might be the strangest place the Feegle have ever been. What did you think of Pratchett's imagery of her mind, and of her safe place?

It makes a lot of sense.  After all, she tells the land what it is, and the land tells her who she is.  I liked that she was the land, in her mind.  She wasn't hiding in her safe place.  She was her safe place!  

Poor Miss Level. Do you think she'll ever recover from what happened to her? How is this going to change her relationship with Tiffany? 

I am really surprised that Tiffany killed someone.  I know it was the hiver, but it was the hiver being Tiffany.  I think it will affect their relationship, because I don't know if Tiffany will be able to completely forgive herself for what she/the hiver did.  From Miss Level's side, it does look like she's moving toward healing, and I think she will be able to forgive Tiffany.  It's a bit clearer that Tiffany was not in control, when one is looking from the outside.  As sad as it is, Mistress Weatherwax may be right that this is the thing that finally gains Miss Level respect (two bodies is just odd, an invisible dead body is apparently witchy genius).  

In the discussion Tiffany has with Mistress Weatherwax at the end of chapter 9, Weatherwax gives Tiffany some very important information about how to be a witch. Who would you rather study with to become a witch? Weatherwax or Level?

That is a tough choice.  I found it rather sad that Miss Level was not highly regarded, with how dedicated she is to helping people.  I think I would personally prefer to be with Miss Level, because her personality seems much easier to work with on a daily basis.  Miss Weatherwax is clearly a great witch, but she can also be a bit sharp.

Any thoughts on how the story might end? Do you think the Hiver is gone for good?

I don't think the hiver is gone for good, but I'm wondering if it's gone for the rest of this book.  I can see this possibly turning into something Tiffany has to deal with later in her life, like the thing Ged summoned in Earthsea. I'm thinking that Annagramma might have a change of heart, after seeing Tiffany in violent action.  Whether that change of heart will cause her to avoid Tiffany forever, or just re-evaluate her beliefs about witchcraft, I don't know. 

Other Thoughts:

I'm again surprised by how quickly this book is moving.  We still have a pretty large number of pages left, and they've already kicked out the hiver.  I have no idea what's going to fill the next pages.  Perhaps a showdown with the local young witches club?  Maybe it will focus on the witch trials and Tiffany will be spectacular?  That seems a bit unnecessary now, though, there's no way Annagramma doesn't know Tiffany's powerful, after the ZaksZak's scene.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Published : HarperTorch(2000),Doubleday(2003)
Series : Discworld ; Book 1 of the Tiffany Aching Series
Awards Won: Locus YA Award

The Book :

“9-year-old Tiffany Aching has read her share of fairy tales, but she feels no kinship with the simpering princesses and their princely rescuers.  Instead, she wonders why the clever, resourceful witches always seem to get the short end of the stick.  Especially in Tiffany’s homeland of the Chalk, witches are treated very poorly indeed—and the working definition of a witch seems to be ‘female, old and eccentric’.

When monsters begin appearing in her homeland, Tiffany learns that a fairy queen is trying to attach her nightmarish fairyland to reality. The only one around that can stand in her way is Tiffany, as the witch of the Chalk.  When the queen kidnaps Tiffany’s little brother, she knows she must act.  She might have little idea what she’s getting into, but with her trusty frying pan, and the help of the ‘Pictsies’ that held her late grandmother in high regard, she’ll have to find the strength to protect her own.” ~Allie

This is the 5th book I’ve read by Terry Pratchett, and it is one more reminder why I should return to Discworld more often.  This novel kicks off Pratchett’s YA series, and I think it would be especially enjoyed by younger readers, perhaps Tiffany’s age or slightly older.  There’s some alcohol and tobacco use in the story (not by Tiffany), but it’s only used for comedy.

My Thoughts:

The Wee Free Men is the humorous, exciting, and occasionally touching story of a 9-year-old witch, Tiffany Aching.  Tiffany is an impressive heroine, a young girl that is generally respectful of others, courageous, resourceful, and remarkably self-aware for her age.  She’s also very protective of her family and home, and works hard making cheese in their farm’s dairy.  Though she does have her flaws (such as a certain recklessness), she is a delightfully self-reliant and intelligent protagonist. I think that if I had children, they could do far worse than to emulate Tiffany.   As in any Discworld novel, there are plenty of other vivid and comical characters introduced throughout the story, but I think that Tiffany will continue to be an excellent central character for the series.

The basic structure of Tiffany’s adventure is pretty familiar.  A fairy queen threatens Tiffany’s homeland and kidnaps her little brother.  Despite her inexperience, Tiffany sets off to confront the queen and save her little brother, receiving help from various characters along the way.  As a kid who grew up loving Labyrinth, I was completely on board for this. The fairy queen’s world was an interesting take on the idea of fairyland—a world based more on perception and dreams than reality—and the creatures within it were imaginative and a little gruesome.  Tiffany’s ultimate success never seemed to be in question, but it was fun to see what tricks she would pull to get past each dangerous obstacle in her way.

As Pratchett is a writer of comedic fantasy, humor played a large part in the story.  I enjoyed Pratchett’s ridiculous comedy, though I felt that some of the jokes were a bit more targeted towards younger audiences.  For instance, there was a fair amount of slapstick humor, simple puns, and vocabulary-related jokes.  The Nac Mac Feegle (also known as the Wee Free Men or Pictsies) were one of the main comic elements of the novel. These ‘fairies’ were blue-tattooed, orange-haired tiny men who liked nothing more than drinkin’, fightin’ and stealin’, preferably all at the same time.  They spoke in a strong, phonetically rendered accent (“Nae King! Nae Quin! Nae Laird! Nae Master! We willnae be fooled again!”), and were generally way over-the-top.  I enjoyed seeing them awkwardly help Tiffany learn about the supernatural world.  Of course everyone’s reaction to humor will be different, but overall, I found The Wee Free Men to be charmingly silly.  

The more touching and serious segments of the book touched on dealing with the grief that accompanies the death of a loved one. Tiffany’s Granny Aching was a gruff, skilled, shepherdess (and possibly a witch) who loved Jolly Sailor tobacco.  She left an enduring mark on her community, and her character and relationship with Tiffany is explored through a series of poignant memories.  Through her memories and her interactions with the Nac Mac Feegle, who also knew and loved her grandmother, Tiffany slowly comes to a better understanding of her grandmother.  I appreciated how this thread wove through the story of Tiffany and the fairy queen, adding a deeper meaning to the lighter story.

My Rating: 4/5

The Wee Free Men is the first novel in Terry Pratchett’s YA series featuring the young witch Tiffany Aching, but it works as a standalone novel as well.  The story is a good mixture of adventure, humor and emotion, and it features an intelligent, resourceful heroine.  The basic structure of the story (Tiffany’s quest to rescue her little brother) was very familiar, but no less enjoyable for that. The humor was quite silly, and often featured puns or the antics of the rowdy Nac Mac Feegle.  I especially appreciated the way Tiffany’s process of coping with her grief for her grandmother’s death was combined with the adventure, through Tiffany’s memories and the lasting effects of her grandmother’s life on her community.  I think this is a novel that would be especially enjoyed by younger readers, but that has plenty to offer older readers as well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Read-Along: Part 2 of A Hat Full of Sky

Another Wednesday, another read-along post! This week focuses on Chapters 4-6 of Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky, and the discussion questions are provided by Dab of Darkness. Next week, Little Red Reviewer will be again hosting.  The overall review of The Wee Free Men will be coming very soon, and it will be followed by my Women of Genre Fiction pick for this month, Joan D. Vinge's The Snow Queen. My blog activities have been slowed a bit lately for completely unrelated job reasons, but I feel like things are going to settle down any day now (I hope I haven't just jinxed myself)!  

This Read-Along has spoilers up through Chapter 6 of A Hat Full of Sky!

1) Awf'ly Wee Billy, the gonnagle, comes up with a plan, the PLN. First, do you like the basic idea? Second, what was your favorite part of the execution of the PLN? 

I think it is ridiculous that they actually thought the PLN would work!  The only reason it did was because they had an overabundance of gold just laying around to use.  My favorite part was definitely the carter's horse, and its dream coming true. What a fast, glorious run!

2) Miss Level has a philosophy of 'storing it in other people'. How do you like this philosophy and do you know any witchy people in life who might be secretly following it?

I think it makes sense, and I like the idea of always trying to put your excess to use for the good of others.  Taking the example from the book literally, I have had gardening relatives who stored their crops in friends and acquaintances.  They really had to, or the food would just rot. In a less literal sense, all charity kind of follows the same pattern.  Those of us who have been incredibly lucky in life really should 'store' our abundance in those who are not so lucky.

3) We finally get to meet some other witchlings, such as Petulia and Annagramma. What do you make of Tiffany's first meeting with them?

Petulia seems like a nice kid, and I'm sure she'll eventually grow out of her hesitance and fear of confrontation (once she gets away from Annagramma).  I am trying very hard not to go off on a rant about Annagramma!  If I were Tiffany, I wouldn't hang out with them again.   If I were Hiver-Tiffany, I would definitely give Annagramma a piece of my mind.

I think that Pratchett has portrayed a highly believable group of 10-11 year old kids, despite the fact that they're all young witches in Discworld.  I think a lot of children that age will identify very strongly with Tiffany's humiliation, since children really come into their cruelty around that age.  I think it might be because they don't really understand the consequences of their words and actions for other people.  They just see how fun it is to control their peers.  Tiffany herself even falls into a bit of this kind of behavior, with her treatment of Roland.  She doesn't really register his discomfort, just that it's fun to make him stammer and blush.

4) The Hiver has finally found Tiffany and Miss Level has finally met the Feegle. How do you think Tiffany will fair against the Hiver and how much damage do you think will be done (either by the Hiver or the Feegle)?

I am hoping the hiver verbally shreds Annagramma, but I'm betting she's going to turn on the whole 'sabbat' team. She was already really horrible to Petulia, though I'm sure Petulia will forgive her later.  I think its a very good sign that Tiffany was able to stop the hiver from beating the goats, so I think she'll be able to keep it from doing anything really horrific.  The Feegle probably won't destroy too much, they're here to help! Right? ;)
Other Notes:

I'm betting the reason Tiffany is having such a hard time with magic is simply because she isn't on the Chalk.  We've heard that witches draw power from their land, and Miss Tick had a hard time with magic in Tiffany's homeland.  I have been wondering why the hiver can do so much more magic with Tiffany's body.  I thought it was nothing but hunger, and that it thrived on the power of others.  Is Hiver-Tiffany's power coming from somewhere or something else?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Read-Along: Part 1 of A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Welcome to my first post for the read-along of Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky, book 2 of the Tiffany Aching series, hosted by Little Red Reviewer and Dab of Darkness.  If anyone wants to join in, there's still time!  Though this is book 2, the first book is mostly recapped in the first chapter, so you wouldn't be far behind. 

As a quick warning, this post will contain spoilers through Chapter 3 of A Hat Full of Sky. 

What do you think of Miss Level and her housemate Oswald?  Did you guess the secret about her identity before she told Tiffany the truth? 

I have to admit I did not guess the truth about Miss Level's identity.  I assumed she had a friendly ghost or some kind of creepy, unusual familiar.  I guess I was sort of right (she does have a friendly ghost!), but wrong at the same time. I think the reveal that she had two bodies was much more interesting.  I'm wondering if Miss Level's knowledge of dealing with one mind and two bodies will help in some way with the hiver.  In other notes, I would love to have an Oswald.  It would make life so much easier! 

Why kind of witchy stuff do you think Miss Level will start teaching Tiffany?

I've been wondering about that, because there was actually not much traditional 'witchy stuff' in The Wee Free Men.  Right now I'm guessing it will be mostly hands-on stuff, like the chores she's already started.  I am wondering if Tiffany or Miss Level are going to manage to listen to bees. 

What do you think of Jeannie? Do you think she'll get in the way of the Feegle continuing to help Tiffany?

I don't think she will, in the end.  I don't think she actually dislikes Tiffany, it's just a bit weird for her to have her husband running off to rescue his ex-fiancée (though she knows that was just to follow the rules, and not a real engagement).  Also, her comment at the end of the chapter broke my heart a little.  Jeannie seems to be having some homesickness issues, and she's probably going to be sympathetic to Tiffany's situation on that account.

Have your feelings for Roland changed any?

Not really, I still think he's a pretty decent kid.  It's starting to look a little like there's romance in Tiffany and Roland's future, though, and I hope that mostly holds off in the existing series.  I think he's 15 now, and she's 11, right?  It won't matter much once they're in their twenties, but 15 and 11 is a big difference.  The present was remarkably thoughtful, though.

Which is creepier? a Hiver or a Drome?

I guess I haven't seen quite enough of the hiver to really make a decision.  All we really know is that they give people delusions of grandeur and then kill them.  At least Professor Bustle died confident in his own brilliance, right? Though who knows what he did before that--I think it was implying he killed some people. Dromes are certainly still very creepy.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: Galveston by Sean Stewart

Galveston by Sean Stewart
Published: Ace Books, 2000
Awards Won: World Fantasy Award

The Book:

“During Mardi Gras of 2004, Galveston was inundated by a Flood… not of water, but of deadly and dangerous magic.  When the disaster began to settle, the city was split into two halves.  In normal Galveston, people lived in the ruins of the old technological civilization.  Their fragile community was held together through the efforts of the secular leader, Jane Gardner.  Magical Galveston remained in Mardi Gras forever, reigned over by a god of magic, Momus.  The two halves were held separate by the power of the witch Odessa Gibbons, who exiled anyone contaminated by magic to the Carnival.

Jane Gardner’s daughter Sloane is still trying to find her place in this new society.  As her mother’s health fails, she knows that she doesn’t have what it takes to live up to Jane’s legacy.  At the same time, a boy she once knew, Josh Cane, struggles with his lot in life.  Though his family was once somewhat wealthy, he now lives alone as an herbal doctor, treating poor folk that he despises.  Like a game of poker, their futures will be determined both by chance and by their skill at playing the hands they’re dealt.” ~Allie

This is the first book I’ve read by Sean Stewart, and while I appreciated the creativity of the story, it didn’t really work for me. I already have a copy of Mockingbird on my bookshelf, though, so I am going to try reading at least one more book by Stewart at some point.

My Thoughts:

The thing I most enjoyed about Galveston was the setting.  The survivor community of Galveston and the chaotic, time-stopped Mardi Gras area both had a distinct flair and ambience.  Normal Galveston was a drab, desperate place that relied on its past as it searched for a future. The details about the foundations of their everyday lives, such as how they generated power or made clothing, made the setting feel immediate and grounded.  However, as they began to run out of their carefully hoarded pre-Flood goods—from soda to penicillin—there was a creeping sense of dread and uncertainty about the future. Mardi Gras, on the other hand, was mysterious, wild, and confusing.  It held all the allure of a wild night of drinking and carousing, but with a level of danger exaggerated by magic.  For one thing, the revelers tended to slowly transform into creatures, and for another, the party never ended. There weren’t many details about the larger concerns of the world—how other areas were faring, what caused the magic in the first place, or what rules it followed—but real and magical Galveston were beautifully imagined in all their grimy, sleazy glory.   

In this troubled world, I think the main characters, Josh and Sloane, were intended to be pretty unlikeable characters. I think that the fairly sympathetic secondary character, Josh’s only friend Ham (named after Noah’s son), was supposed to win over the audience and connect them to the protagonists.  While Ham’s compassion and good cheer did win me over, I was never able to bring myself to care the slightest bit about the fate of Josh and Sloane. Josh was creepily obsessed with Sloane based on a childhood crush, and he was extremely bitter about having to associate with poor people.  He was almost universally nasty to anyone who had the misfortune of interacting with him. Sloane, on the other hand, didn’t really seem to have a strong identity at all.  Her personality changed a lot throughout the book, but it was mostly a result of external magical meddling.  Since her character seemed to lack integrity, any personal growth seemed more like something that was done to her than something she achieved.  I know all readers have different tolerances for unsympathetic characters, but these two were well past mine.

In addition to lacking a connection with the protagonists, I was frustrated by a plot that often seemed directionless, and occasionally even clumsy.  One example of this clumsiness was the plot device used to force the male and female protagonists to meet.  In short, Sloane encountered Josh as a result of her rescue from a gang of generic rapist thugs that set upon her as she was walking home.  This event was largely irrelevant to the rest of the story, but I was also frustrated by the unexamined victim blaming in the later reference to the event as “her stupidity afterward in nearly getting herself raped” (p.75).  Overall, the story seemed to move from event to event in a rather unfocused way, and often plot points that I expected would be important were just solved by chance or dismissed.

I think part of the reason for this structure was to make the story a reflection of the mechanics of the game of poker (specifically Texas hold’em), which was heavily featured in the story.  Poker was common in both real and magical Galveston, and there were many discussions of strategies, bluffing techniques, and detailed accounts of games.  As in poker, the story was strongly influenced by chance events, and the importance of various plot points shifted as more of the story was revealed.  While I appreciated the idea, it didn’t work for me as a narrative structure. The end was also a little bit of a letdown, as the story didn’t resolve so much as it just stopped, leaving a number of threads hanging. Though I was a bit unsatisfied by the ending, I did appreciate the realistic treatment of some of the remaining problems, which were of the sort that can’t be solved quickly.

My Rating: 2.5/5

The setting of Galveston was fascinating, though I was less intrigued by the characters and the story.  I loved the different atmosphere and rich description of the post-technological real Galveston and the time-stopped, sometimes nightmarish, Carnival.  The main characters, Sloane and Josh, were too unsympathetic for me, and I had a hard time caring about what would eventually happen to them.  The story, which seemed to parallel aspects of the game of poker, was just too random and unfocused for my taste, and the ending also seemed very abrupt.  I did really enjoy the world, though the story didn’t really work for me, so I will probably try another of Stewart’s novels in the future.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Read-Along: Part 3 of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Today wraps up the read-along of Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men.  The Read-Along will continue to the second book of the series, A Hat Full of Sky, with details as announced by Little Red Reviewer and Dab of Darkness.

This discussion post has spoilers through the end of The Wee Free Men.  An ordinary review of the whole book will be forthcoming in a week or so!  My usual weekly-ish reviews will also resume here in a couple of days--I was briefly distracted by job-search related activities.

1) What was your favorite part of the 'duel of dreams' between Tiffany and the Queen?

I think my favorite part was the psychological battle between the two of them, rather than the visual dreams.  I especially liked when Tiffany 'woke up'.  Not that it was in any doubt before, but Tiffany is a remarkably capable and self-aware young lady.  I think she's a good role model.

2) The last part of the book shows us a bit more of Roland's character. What did you make of him? 

I think he's a pretty decent guy.  He's not as brave, confident or clever as Tiffany, but he might be a good baron.  Though he said he wouldn't, he did try to help her against the Queen, and it isn't his fault he got knocked unconscious by the Feegles. Also, while it would have been nice for Tiffany to get some credit (instead of being publicly relegated to the 'rescued princess' role), I can see how it was a difficult situation for Roland. 

3) The Nac Mac Feegle never cease to make me laugh. What were some of your favorite scenes or lines from the Feegle (for this segment or the entire book)? 

From this segment, my favorite has got to be the explanation for their absence while Tiffany was first confronting the queen.  Tiffany defeated the drome in the masquerade ball dream… and the Feegle just didn't want to let all that dream-alcohol go to waste.  I also quite liked the scene with all the lawyers.

4) The finale of the book introduces us to Mistress Weatherwax and Mrs. Ogg. These are two of my all-time favorite Discworld characters. What did you think of them? Have you read other books featuring these two ladies? 

I honestly don't remember if they've been in the other Discworld books I've read.  If so, I suppose they probably weren't featured characters, just cameos, as they are here.  Even though they were in only a few pages, I already feel like I have a decent grasp of their personalities.  I hope they appear more in Tiffany's story in the future.

5) Tiffany's connection with Granny Aching is one of the most poignant throughout the book. Did you enjoy Granny Aching's brief appearance late in the book?

Yes, of course!  I think Granny Aching is fantastic, so I was happy to see her.  Also, it gave Tiffany closure in a few ways.  First of all, back when she learned the Feegles had been watching the sheep and taking the tobacco, the sense of absence of her Granny's spirit really hurt Tiffany.  Also, she had that lingering fear that she had insulted Granny Aching when she gave her the shepherdess statue.  Through her appearance, and her style of dress when she appeared, Tiffany can now feel reassured on both counts.  Her Granny Aching will be with her always, in some ways :). 

And one last random thought, I really love how Tiffany mis-pronounces her vocabulary sometimes.  I used to do that when I was a kid, too.  I think it mostly comes from learning vocabulary through reading instead of conversation, so you know the meanings but you've never heard the words spoken out loud. Thus Metaphorical -> Metapahorrical, for example.  Tiffany is such a great protagonist, I'm looking forward to seeing her grow in the next few books.