Thursday, 30 November 2006

Terry Pratchett: Wintersmith (2006)

Published: Doubleday, 2006

This is the third of Terry Pratchett's stories about young witch Tiffany Aching, aimed at a younger readership than the main Discworld novels, with which they share a setting and several characters. This time, she interrupts a ritual in the forest in midwinter, and by doing so attracts the romantic attention of the Wintersmith, the elemental being who personifies the season. While it is flattering to have all the snow fall in flakes which shaped like your profile, having giant iceberg statues killing hundreds of sailors is not so enjoyable. And, worst of all, Tiffany accidentally took the place of the Summer Lady in the dance, and the seasons become so messed up that this winter might never end.

The plot is simple, and hardly original (with echoes of the Greek myth of Persephone at the far reaches of its ancestry). But that is not the point. Wintersmith is entertaining, funny and would cheer anyone up, no matter what age they are. There is not as much in it as Pratchett includes in the main Discworld stories, presumably to cater to the younger readers. In particular, there is virtually none of the parodic references to our own culture that are the source of a lot of the humour of the adult novels, and instead something of an emphasis on lessons to be learned while growing up. I found the latter a little too obvious, but then I am about three times the target age.

As I said, this is the third young adult novel centring on Tiffany Aching, and it gives away some of the plots of the first two, though not too seriously. It would be better to read them in sequence (starting with The Wee Free Men), but not essential. This is a book which would make an ideal Christmas present for a thirteen year old who reads, such as a Harry Potter fan waiting for the final book to appear.

1 comment:

Simon McLeish said...

When I reviewed this, it was ages since I'd read Hogfather and so I'd forgotten the plot enough not to point out that the two novels are in fact very similar.