Sunday, August 28, 2011

Review: Wintersmith

by Terry Pratchett
Start Date: 21 August 2011
End Date: 23 August 2011
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 1st 2006

Summary (from Goodreads):
Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to winter — she does what no one has ever done before and leaps into the dance. Into the oldest story there ever is. And draws the attention of the Wintersmith himself.

As Tiffany-shaped snowflakes hammer down on the land, can Tiffany deal with the consequences of her actions? Even with the help of Granny Weatherwax and the Nac Mac Feegle — the fightin’, thievin’ pictsies who are prepared to lay down their lives for their “big wee hag.”

Wintersmith is the third title in an exuberant series crackling with energy and humour. It follows The Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky.

My Review:
Wintersmith was, most of all, a fun read. It was funny throughout, made me laugh out loud, had great characters, and was exactly was I was looking for when I created FOOF. I had a great time returning to this book and I really enjoyed reading it.

If you haven't read the first two Tiffany Aching books (The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky), you will likely miss out on a few of the jokes and a lot of the references, but it's not too difficult to pick up the story just from Wintersmith. It works as a stand-alone, but when you finish, you'll be looking for more of Tiffany's adventures. The first time I read Wintersmith, I thought it was a standalone and I had no trouble with it at all. (However, when I first read Wintersmith, I was much better at just accepting whatever happened even if I didn't completely get what was going on. I suspect that was one of the reasons I loved  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass so much.)

All of the characters are wonderful and unique, from Tiffany to Miss Treason, and from Granny Weatherwax to the Wintersmith himself. Although it's much easier to appreciate all the quirks of each character and how developed they all were if you'd read the previous books, again, it is not at all necessary. Everyone is plenty fun in Wintersmith alone.

This time around I paid much more attention to the character of the Wintersmith. I had never found him all that interesting before, just another character in the story, but now he stands out to me as one of the most interesting characters. He spends much of the story trying to find out what makes someone human, as he is trying to become human himself, as to catch Tiffany's affections (It's kind of a long story - you just have to read the book). I'm including the following passage from when the Wintersmith creates a human body for himself. I never thought much of it before, but now it's one of my favorite passages.
The Wintersmith spoke. That is, there were a variety of noises, from the roaring of a gale to the rattle of the sucking of the surf on a pebble shore after a wrecking storm at sea. Somewhere along them all was a tone that sounded right. He repeated it, stretched it, stirred it around, and turned it into speech, playing with it until it sounded right.
     He said: "Tasbnlerizwip? Ggokyziofvva? Wiswip? Nanananana…Nyip…nap…Ah…. Ah! It is to speak!" The Wintersmith threw back his head and sang the overture to Überwald Winter by the composer Wotua Doinov. He'd overheard it once when driving a roaring gale
around the rooftops of an opera house, and had been astonished to find that a human being, nothing more really than a bag of dirty water on legs, could have such a wonderful understanding of snow.
     "СНОВА ПОХОЛОДАЛО!" he sang to the freezing sky.
     The only slight error the Wintersmith made, as his horse trotted through the pine trees, was in singing the instruments as well as the voices. He sang, in fact, the whole orchestra, making the sounds of all the singers, the drums, and the rest of the orchestra all at once.
     To smell the trees! To feel the pull of the ground! To be solid! To feel the darkness behind your eyes and know it was you! To be–and know yourself to be–a man! (Pratchett 335-336)

I also liked the parts where Tiffany helped Miss Treason and Nanny Ogg with their "witchcraft" in the villages they took care of. The witches, rather than doing fancy magic *ahem*Annagramma*ahem* were in charge of taking care of people, and helping out where help was needed. Another of my new favorite scenes was when Tiffany and Nanny Ogg went to visit the man with all the traps for death. I'm not even sure why I like it so much, but it's the one I keep thinking back on.

And of course, no review would be complete without mention of out favorite Wee Free Men. The Feegles are the source of much amusement and are as funny as ever on the reread. Wintersmith, as with the other Tiffany Aching books, begins with a Feegle Glossary, adjusted for those of a delicate disposition, which includes such entries as "Boggin': To be desperate, as in 'I'm boggin' for a cup of tea,'" "Cack yer kecks: Er, to put it delicately... to be very, very frightened. As it were," and "Ships: Wooly things that eat grass and go baa. Easily confused with the other kind." Happily, Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, Billy Bigchin, and the whole Feegle gang play quite a large part in Wintersmith.

And so, just for fun, the one quote I remembered as my absolute favorite from the last time I read Wintersmith:
And so the Feegles sailed home. Apart from Billy Bigchin they couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, but that minor problem was dwarfed by the major problem, which was that they didn't bother with the idea of singing at the same pitch, or speed, or even with the same words. Also, minor fights soon broke out, as always happened even when Feegles were having fun, and so the sound that echoed among the rocks as the log sped toward the lip of the waterfall went something like:
     "Rowaarghgently boat ouchgentlydoon boat boat boatiddley boat stream boatlymerrily boatargh... CRIVENnnnnns!" (Pratchett 371-372)

Overall Thoughts: Wintersmith was lots of fun, with plenty of humor, and great characters to keep the story moving. I am looking forward to rereading the first two Tiffany Aching books.

Click here to judge this book by its cover!

I read this book for my Fortnight of Old Favorites Challenge.

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