Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Report: Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett

I guess I get into a Pratchett run sometimes.

Wintersmith is the most recent in Pratchett's run of Tiffany Aching books, books for younger readers (middle-grade?) which feature as the protagonist a young girl who is good at making cheese, tormenting her brother, and being a witch. It also features the Pictsies, the Nac Mac Feegle, who are technically fairies but are likely to give you a face full of head if you bring it up. Rumor is that they were thrown out of fairy land for being drunk and disorderly at two in the afternoon.

That I love Pratchett's work should be evident by now. But I think that the Tiffany books hold a special place. There are moments when she is feeling homesick, or when she is on the verge of triumph, when she remembers her bond to her land (the chalk hills) and to her grandmother (a shepherdess who was, maybe, not great with grandchildren, but made up for it by being amazing with sheep, and quite likely the greatest witch ever to come into her power without being aware of it), and something about that moves me. "I'll never really leave you, land under wave."

I have no idea why that almost brings tears to my eyes, but it does.

In Wintersmith, Tiffany accidentally steps into the dance called the Dark Morris, which is danced in the high Ramtop mountains to welcome the winter in Pratchett's Discworld just as the Morris is danced everywhere else to welcome the spring (I think that's how it goes). As a result, she attracts the attention of the Wintersmith, the god of Winter, who mistakes her for his counterpart, the Summer Lady. His pursuit of love is both comical and deadly, as Tiffany tries to avoid his attentions while simultaneously dealing with the death of her mentor, the persistent intrusion of the Nac Mac Feegle, and the sudden advent of a cornucopia.

Ulysses Rating: 5 (I'll read this again and again).


Anonymous said...

While I really loved Hatful of Sky and The Wee Free Men, I didn't enjoy Wintersmith nearly as much. Again, I listened to all three of them. (Yes, I have actually read some Disc World books with my eyes.) Pratchett is great, no matter what, but this is my least favorite.

Ulysses said...

I think I'd have a hard time figuring out my least favorite Discworld, because I've enjoyed every one of them so much. If I had to choose, though, I'd have to go with Moving Pictures, or maybe Colour of Magic/Light Fantastic. It's not that they're not good, it's just that I don't find myself returning to them as often as I do to ones like Mort and Maskerade.

Have you read (or heard) any of the Johnny books? (Only You Can Save Mankind, Johnny and the Dead, Johnny and the Bomb).

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of the Johnny books. I have a lot to look forward to, because I still haven't read all of the Discworld books. I liked Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic. I read them at the beach, which was perfect. I particularly enjoyed the Moist Van Lipwig books. I'll get the Johnny books for my son for his birthday so I can read them! Thanks.

Unrelated, sort of: I was disappointed that you only gave Anansi Boys a three on your rating scale. I LOVED it. I listened to it, though, and the reader was brilliant.

Ulysses said...

I enjoyed Moist as well, although I've misplaced my copy of the latest one (Making Money). I haven't been able to find it... which has more to do with housekeeping than forgetfulness.

Bear in mind that my rating scale isn't linear. I don't like 1s, and I find 2s unpleasant, but three or higher are books I'm glad I've read. 4s are books that stay with me long after I put them down and 5s are ones I can't put down for long. So Anansi Boys was a book I'm glad I read, but didn't leave a lasting impression.

...And of course, it's all subjective.