The Tiffany Aching books are so important.
They’re about a girl, in a professional hierarchy created by women, growing into her own power, and growing as a person. At the end of each book, her good work is validated by the most powerful witches. For Tiffany’s success, she’s rewarded in an almost Mary-Sue like fashion (and I use that term in the most positive way). Granny Weatherwax bows to her. Granny Weatherwax takes off her hat to her. This lifts Tiffany’s spirits and reassures her that she’s on the right track, and it’s treated as SO IMPORTANT, and, like — how many other books do that?
The prizes at the end of the story — Tiffany becomes a better person, she protects people, she gains the respect of her superiors (who are also women).
Can you imagine that in another novel? The joyful moment of heartwarming, the cherry on ice cream sundae of the adventure, the heroine’s crowning glory, is that some old women bow to her in respect.
The books are so positive towards women, it’s unreal. Sure, the witches don’t always get along (they’re witches, they’ll always argue), and Tiffany has to deal with some petty one-up-man-ship, but it’s so fucking mature, how it’s handled. Tiffany winds up helping her enemy, Annagramma, who slowly learns to become a decent human being, and is revealed to have her own problems. She also becomes friends with the woman her childhood crush marries, even though they were initially antagonistic towards each other. It would have been SO EASY for these women to be one-note villains, the “bitches” for Tiffany to triumph over, but they’re not, and that’s fantastic. Pratchett does not go for the low-hanging fruit, and tear other women down to build Tiffany up.
I once had the incredible privilege to speak to Terry Pratchett in person at the Edinburgh Fringe. I thanked him for the Tiffany Aching novels, which had helped me and my husband bond during our year of long distance. And I asked him how he, as a male author, was able to write such well-rounded women.
"Well, my mother was a woman," he said, and the audience laughed, but basically he said that his life had been filled with just as many interesting women as interesting men, and it felt natural to reflect that in his novels.
The Tiffany Aching series is a gift for girls. It’s a gift for just about anyone who reads them, but girls in particular NEED stories like this, stories about a world of women helping and challenging each other. Stories where they get to be powerful.