Terry Pratchett is one of those authors I read on a fairly regular basis, and always have a good time with! Most recently, I read Wintersmith, the third book in the Tiffany Aching subseries of Discworld.
Tiffany is a 13-year-old apprentice witch of considerable promise (and modesty). She attends a Dark Morris dance, welcoming winter, and can’t resist jumping in–which brings her to the attention of the Wintersmith, the spirit of winter, who finds himself suddenly enamored of this human girl. Dealing with the chaos and destruction caused by the Wintersmith’s attempts at wooing requires all of Tiffany’s strength and ability, as well as help from senior witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, from the fighting, drinking and swearing Wee Free Men, and from bookish and good-hearted Roland, who is not Tiffany’s young man.
I think I enjoy the Tiffany subseries so much because, like the City Guard subseries, they give me a sane main character (Tiffany and Vimes), surrounded by wildly eccentric characters. Tiffany is a wonderful heroine who has been growing into her abilities (and perhaps more importantly, her identity) throughout the series. I mentioned above she has promise and modesty, but it’s really more complicated than that. Tiffany always does what’s needed, and doesn’t see anything remarkable in that–even if it’s rescuing her brother from the Queen of the Fairies, or confronting the Spirit of Winter. I love a character who is flawed enough to not always do the right thing, but to always try to do what’s needed.
The other witches are wonderfully eccentric and unique, from Miss Treason who deliberately made herself a legend, to Annagramma, a somewhat New Age witch who thinks it’s all about rituals and beads. Then of course there’s Granny Weatherwax–witches don’t have a leader, and Granny is the leader they don’t have–and Nanny Ogg, warm and cheerful and practical about all things, like using a Cornucopia of Plenty to stock the larder.
The Wee Free Men, also called the Feegles, are at their usual wild state of hilarity, endlessly cheerful and enthused, shouting and rushing about and eager to do whatever is needed to help “the big wee hag.” I love it when they attempt to sing “Row Your Boat” while crossing the River Styx, “at every possible speed and tempo and with no regard at all for the tune,” annoying Death not a little.
The funniest feature of this book may be Horace, a very lively Lancre Blue Cheese. He’s adopted by the Feegles, given his own bit of tartan, and does his best to hum along with the singing.
Roland also gets some nice scenes in this book. He’s not Tiffany’s young man (in rather the way Granny is not the leader of the witches) and he has to step up to be the Hero in the story, even though he’s only ever used an imaginary sword, and learned swordplay from a book. He has some truly awful aunts and I am hoping for more of his story in the next book…
If I have one criticism of this book, it’s the first chapter. Chronologically, it covers events which should slot in between Chapter Twelve (of Thirteen), and I frankly don’t know why Pratchett decided to start there. It made me thoroughly confused, and wondering if I’d missed a book in the series. So–if you begin this and don’t know what’s happening, keep reading.
Anything else…have I said much on the plot? The plot is good, perfectly engaging and exciting in spots–but it’s more important as a vehicle for the wonderful characters and high hilarity Pratchett is so good at!
My recommendation: don’t start the series here…but do start the series. 🙂
Author’s Site: http://terrypratchettbooks.com/
Buy it here: Wintersmith