Wintersmith, by Terry Pratchett


To be honest, there’s not a lot of difference between the Discworld books for adults and those aimed more at young teenagers. The plot contains fewer threads and is relatively free of Nanny Ogg’s single-entendres, but any adults in the readership aren’t going to feel they’ve been sold short.

Wintersmith is the third book (a 4th is in the pipeline) in the Tiffany Aching series. The heroine is now thirteen, and rapidly reaching the point where her friend Roland is be considered her “young man” – although the hormones haven’t quite kicked in yet, hence Tiffany’s irritation when older witches call him that. And just to complicate things, she manages to get herself noticed by the spirit of Winter, who in turn starts considering itself himself as her “young man”.

Or would, if it he could just work out what really makes a man.

Briefly, Tiffany gets herself into a fix when she is unable to resist the magic of the Dark Morris Dance, the Discworld’s fictional opposite of the traditional English Morris dance, which is danced on the 1st of May to welcome in the Summer (although it was danced by fans for Terry Pratchett after he first mentioned it in a throwaway line in – I think – Reaper Man. Of course, saying something like “I trust there will be no Morris dancing” to Bernard Pearson, aka the Cunning Artificer, is simply asking for dancing with nobody called Maurice in the team) and joins in, unwittingly disturbing the balance between Summer and Winter. Like her grandmother, Tiffany has the “land in her bones” and a dance that’s linked so closely to the land itself exerts a powerful attraction on her. So she has to put things right, with some help from senior witches, but mostly by herself because you must always take responsibility for your own actions, even if you have a bodyguard of several hundred fiercely loyal Nac Mac Feegles, all fair boggin’ for a drink and not one of them, apart from the gonnagle, capable of carrying a tune in a bucket.

So once again we have a tale of growing up, sprinkled with references to classical mythology this time. It’s an enjoyable read, well-constructed and – hopefully – thought-provoking, and finishes up the trilogy nicely. Do not read it before the two other books, they really should be read in order. In my opinion, Wintersmith is up to scratch as a Pratchett novel

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