Books

Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett

This is the latest addition to the Tiffany Aching series.
This Young Adult series is set on the wonderful Terry Pratchett creation, the Discworld.

Tiffany once again deals with human created “stories” in this tale about the changing seasons. It also involves young love, er… maybe not so young in the case of the Wintersmith, ice roses, limbo and the irrepressible Nac Mac Feegle led by Rob Anybody.

There are themes running through these books, one of which is taking responsibility for your actions; which is what witches like Tiffany do. They take responsibility for and deal with not only the mundane things in life, like going “around the houses” and tending to the sick and dying, but also standing up to elementals like the Wintersmith or the Queen of Fairyland.

And throughout it all, Terry Pratchett throws in his usual dose of light relief in the form of the Nac Mac Feegles and a range of very witty one-liners and sly observations.

I have never yet read a Discworld book that I did not enjoy. Some are more memorable than others, as you would expect, but I have never felt let down. This follows on through this latest addition. You can’t really go wrong with a book when you find yourself reading passages aloud to your other half because you laughed so much you just felt the need to share the humour.

In saying that, I don’t rate this story amongst the most memorable – Wee Free Men, definitely; The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, of course; and Pyramids, completely. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good read, if somewhat predictable. And to be fair, predictable should be the norm when the story is about folk stories. If you are a Discworld fan you’ll be getting this book from the library or the bookstore no matter what I say here, but if you’re a neophyte then I recommend starting at the beginning with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic. Work your way through the series until you have met Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, then jump over to Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith. It will make much more sense if you are familiar with Granny and Nanny, and the way of witching on the Discworld.

So my rating is a 3 out of 5 for this Discworld adventure.

And before I go, I want to “read aloud” some passages to you:

First is the general outline of the Feegle’s approach to life…

‘Ach, people’re always telling us no’ tae do things,’ said Rob Anybody. ‘That’s how we ken what’s the most interestin’ things tae do!’

Then there’s the Feegle way of life.

‘See…first ye get the boozin’ an’ the fighten’ an’ the stealin’, O.K. An’ when you get back tae the mound it’s time for the tappin’ o’ the feets – ‘
‘Ooooooo!’
‘ – an’ the foldin’ o’ the arms – ‘
‘Aaaargh!’
‘ – an’, o’ course, the pursin’ o’ the lips and – will ye scunners knock it off wi’ the groanin’ before I start bangin’ heids together! Right?’
All the Feegles fell silent, except for one:
“Oh, waily, waily, waily! Ohhhhhhh! Aaarrgh! The pursin’ … o’ …the -‘

And finally, the Feegle outlook on the Underworld and crossing over with the Ferryman. [for neophytes, Death in his many incarnations, speaks in capitals]

The Feegles swarmed aboard the rotting boat with their usual enthusiasm and cries of ‘Crivens!’, ‘Where’s the booze on this cruise?’ and ‘We’re right oot in the Styx noo!’ and Roland climbed in with care, watching the ferryman suspiciously.
The figure pulled on the big oar and they set off with a creak and then, regrettably, and to the ferryman’s disgust, to the sound of singing. More or less singing, that is, at every possible speed and tempo and with no regard at all for the tune.

‘Row row your row boat boat
row yer boat down the merrily stream
like a bird on the boa-‘

WILL YOU SHUT UP?

‘ – bonny boat row stream stream
boat boat row yer boat down
the merrily stream row merrily merrily boat – ‘

THIS IS HARDLY APPROPRIATE!

😀 But it is totally Feegle. Irreverant, individualistic and “damn the torpedoes”. That’s what makes this series a good read.

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