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The librarian

Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett, is the third of his Tiffany Aching/Wee Free Men trilogy which is a series within his Discworld series of books.




Tiffany is now almost thirteen years old. She's living with Miss Treason, the oldest living witch (she refers to the quite ancient Granny Weatherwax as, 'the girl, Weatherwax') and quite the scariest one too. Most young witch apprentices staying with her leave within the first day; Tiffany is still there three months later because, 'although Miss Treason looked bad and sounded bad and smelled like old locked wardrobes, she didn't feel bad'.

One night, Miss Treason takes Tiffany off into the forest to witness 'the dance'. Tiffany is given orders not to talk, only to look at the dancers and not to move until the dance is finished. Unfortunately, Tiffany is mesmerised by the beat of the drums and realises that the dance is a Morris dance, the dance that welcomes in the Spring and Summer. She can't keep still and, almost hypnotised, she joins in the dance. A Big Mistake. She comes to the notice of the wintersmith and things go downhill from there. Suddenly it's snowing Tiffany shaped snowflakes and the older witches realise that the wintersmith has fallen for Tiffany. A permanent winter sets in and Tiffany has to keep a very low profile, with the Wee Free Men guarding her, in order to evade the wintersmith, who meanwhile has decided to become human in order to capture Tiffany's heart. Things come to a head when Miss Treason announces her own death, attends her own wake, and then dies, leaving Tiffany with nowhere to go. Which is where Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax come in...

These three books are definitely among my favourite Discworld novels now. I very much like the way in which this is not just a tale about the wintersmith falling for Tiffany but a continuation of 'her' story. You get a lot background information about how the witches live, what motivates them, what little tricks they employ to kid the villagers about their power and so on. 'Universe building' in other words and Pratchett is an absolute master at it. As always it's funny, he slips in lines that take you completely unaware, often in his dialogue:

'Mr Anybody?' said Roland as they glided jerkily along.

'Aye?'

'Why am I sitting next to a blue cheese with a bit of tartan wrapped around it?'

'Ah, that'd be Horace,' said Rob Anybody. 'He's Daft Wullie's pal. He's no' bein' a nuisance, is he?'

'No. But he's trying to sing!'

'Aye, all blue cheeses hum a bit.'

See? Just enough to make you giggle and then admire an author who can slip a little line like that in so nonchalantly that if you're not paying attention, you'll miss it. 'Genius' I call it.

My only complaint about the story is that I did find the ending a bit pat and I'm not really sure if I missed something there. But it didn't spoil my enjoyment of what is an excellent read and I'm only sorry that this is the last of the Tiffany Aching books and of course 'now' there's no knowing whether or not there will be any more.

Comments

I'm so glad you enjoyed the series - I did too.

It's so sad the whole TP thing.
Yeah, but he "aten't dead" yet, there will still be more books, I hope. I got the impression from something written by the man himself that he intends to keep on as long as he can.

funny thing this LJ. I've arrived here via a friends list and looking at the LJ of someone on that list whom I don't recognise to see if I could work out who it is (Rosie55) and then looking at their friends list. Pretty soon I won't be able to find the way back...
I'd read that he had one or two in the works that would definitely happen, after that he wasn't committing himself - which is understandable.

Ah, yes, wandering around LJ - it can be fun.
No, he most certainly 'aten't dead' yet. He looked very well indeed on The One Show on BBC1 on Friday night.

Wandering around LJ is fun and like you I sometimes get really lost. But it's also a good way to find new people. Nice to meet you and thanks for dropping in.
It's very sad, but when I saw him on The One Show on Friday evening he did seem very well indeed so there's hope I think. And I gather that there is another Tiffany Aching book planned, which is great. Fingers Crossed it gets written.
Oh, that is good to hear.
Yes, I felt very blue (not quite the same as the Nac MacFeegle, but still...) when I heard that Mr. Pratchett has a form of Alzheimer's. But then I thought about it for a bit.

For one thing, as he pointed out, he's not dead yet, any more than most of the rest of us are - and yet, we're all GOING to be. One day. ALL OF US. The lucky ones don't have a clue when, or how. But oh, yes, definitely, one day. But we all pretend we'll live forever, so why not extend that to him?

And here's the thing that really comforted me, a lot: we've got all of those books to re-read, and an unknown number that will be published before he finally turns off his word processor for good. I mean, let's say he hadn't decided to see if he could get published; if he'd just written for fun and his own entertainment. What if he'd decided to write Serious, Important, Intellectual books that were nowhere near as entertaining and edifying as the books he had in mind but never wrote down because they were "too silly."

But he did publish, and we've all had the privilege of reading those great books. The world has had the benefit of Terry Pratchett's gift, and that means that when he's dead, and so is everyone who knew him personally, or even had the fun of reading each new book as it was released, people will STILL be able to see what was so great about Terry Pratchett. THAT won't die, as long as the books survive, and I think that's amazing. He's managed to send messages into the future, for people to enjoy and realize that the people in the Olden Days (= Now) were actually real human beings, and pretty amazing ones at that (well... SOME of us, anyway).
The whole thing seems so tragic if you think about it too much. Such a brilliant mind, it seems to cruel to get this illness in particular really. But then all chronic illnesses are cruel and no one is immune, so there you go. And he really did look very well on Friday night on TV. He's not allowed to drive any more though, which I suppose is only right and proper but even so, it must hard for him.

And you are right, he will leave behind a tremendous legacy. An amazing amount of books that have affected people's lives and done that very important thing - made people happy. Not many of us can say that.