Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett

I've decided to return to the Tiffany Aching series again this month with the novel Wintersmith which interesting coincides with the celebration of the Morris Dance which is celebrated through the English-speaking world as a celebration of the arrival of spring. However, since I'm writing this post in March with a foot of snow outside I cannot at this time be entirely certain spring will have arrived by the time this post goes live. If we have ended up with an unending winter and I'm the only one still alive then we are in serious trouble indeed.  Hopefully, though, it won't come to that.

Overall, I have to admit that the plot of Wintersmith is not terribly different from Wee Free Men or Hat Full of Sky which makes for some repetitive reading. Tiffany gets wrapped up in events much bigger than she had expected and has to rely on the help of the Nac Mac Feegle and Granny Weatherwax to get her back out of trouble again. The only real difference I noticed was this time it's pretty much Tiffany's own damn fault that she got in trouble because she did something she shouldn't have done, which thirteen year olds tend to do, and now she has to reap the consequences. This time, however, Tiffany danced with the Wintersmith and if things aren't fixed by May then the whole world will be covered in endless winter.

The problem I had with this book, as you might have gleaned, isn't anything mechanical. As always with Pratchett the writing is excellent, the characters are well-rounded, and the plot is interesting. The problem I had was that it was the same plot and by this point I don't feel like Tiffany is growing as a character. Yes, in this book Tiffany is taking responsibility for something dumb she did (which I full-heartedly support) but that's been the theme of the last two books as well. Really, Tiffany only gives a sort of half-hearted "But I didn't mean to" before being forcefully reminded by Granny Weatherwax about what a witch is all about and she gets back to work. I actually found the limited glimpses of Roland's development as a character rather more interesting and wished I could have seen more of him in this story. I know that it's Tiffany's book but some development is better than none at all.

The other major theme, and this is a typical theme in Pratchett works, is the idea that some things have power merely because we give them power. While it's an interesting idea which I think is a good concept to introduce to young adults, I feel like Pratchett handled it a lot better in Hogfather and Small Gods, both of which could very easily be read by this age range as well so it doesn't add a lot to the novel. If your teenager hasn't read Discworld books other than Tiffany Aching then it'll at least be new to them, but as an old hand on the Disc it's the same stuff I've read elsewhere.

Overall, Wintersmith isn't a bad book and I thought it was very enjoyable. My problem was that it felt like it was a sequel written just for the sake of having a sequel rather than because Pratchett had new ground to cover. I'd still recommend it for up-and-coming Discworld readers and the maniacs like me who have to read every Discworld book, but everyone else can probably safely pass it by.

- Kalpar

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