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Terry Pratchett – Wintersmith

May 21, 2009

61. Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (2006)
Discworld, Book 35; Tiffany Aching, Book 3

Read my Review of:
– Book 1, The Wee Free Men
– Book 2, A Hat Full of Sky

Read By: Stephen Briggs
Length: 8h 32min (464 pages)

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Started: 12 May 2009
Finished: 19 May 2009

Tiffany’s growing
up, but Winter does not make
a good first boyfriend.

Summary: It’s normal for a thirteen-year-old girl to start having boy problems. But Tiffany Aching is not a normal girl, and her boy problems are not about a normal boy. Okay, there is Roland, the son of the baron of the Chalk, who gets stammery around her, and writes her letters while she continues her witch training. But someone else has fallen in love with Tiffany, and that someone is the Wintersmith – the god of winter itself! When Tiffany joins in the Dark Morris dance that marks the changing of summer to winter, she attracts the attention of the elemental god, and she begins to take the place of the Summer Lady, the Wintersmith’s normal opposite and partner. Any attention from the gods is dangerous (not to mention disruptive to learning the practice of witchcraft), but when it’s romantic attention, there’s a whole extra layer of complications for Tiffany to sort out… along with her perennial allies, the Nac Mac Feegles.

Review: While I still enjoyed this book quite a bit, I don’t think it lived up to either of its two predecessors, The Wee Free Men or A Hat Full of Sky. Partly, I think this was due to the structure; Wintersmith‘s first chapter starts in the middle of the crisis, then skips back in time, and the pacing throughout the rest of the story just felt a little bit off… spending a long time on some more tangential aspects of the plot while hurrying through others. Partly, it was due to the nature of the conflict; I didn’t feel the Wintersmith was particularly menacing or dangerous (especially compared to the Faery Queen or the Hiver), and Tiffany never seemed that concerned about her problems. But mostly, I think, it was due to the comparative absence of the Feegles. Tiffany’s a fine, multi-dimensional, and sympathetic protagonist, and the other characters that surround her are all interesting in their own right, but the Feegles are undeniably the stars of the show, and their screen time is somewhat reduced in this installment.

I want to reiterate that I did really enjoy this book. The Feegles, when they were around, got in some lines that made me truly laugh out loud, and the rest of the book manages a similar sly sense of humor throughout without feeling the need to be hi-larious every line. Even more, I really appreciate the worldview and sensibility that’s present in these books. Although they’re ostensibly for a YA audience, they don’t talk down to kids, don’t sugar coat the fact that the world isn’t always a nice place, and just generally seem to have their head screwed on right about issues surrounding growing up, how people relate to each other and themselves, and what it takes to be yourself and do right by others. At the same time, it’s not preachy, and wraps up its sensible opinions in a fun adventure in an interesting world, populated by bizarre witches, amusing normal folk, and hilarious little blue men. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Not quite as strong as the two that came before it, but still very much a worthwhile read if you’re looking for YA fantasy that’s not strictly for teens.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Feegle Free-Fall (game)

Other Reviews: Things Mean a Lot, Books and Other Thoughts, Rhinoa’s Ramblings, Wands and Worlds, Eclectic Closet
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: When the storm came, it hit the hills like a hammer.

Quote: (to be read aloud in a thick Scottish burr) “There’s no a lot of laughs in an underworld. This one used to be called Limbo, ya ken, ’cause the door was verra low.”

11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2009 6:09 am

    I should read this trilogy. I am going to go put the first book on hold at the library!

  2. May 21, 2009 6:52 am

    Added to my tbr :) thanks for the great review !!

  3. May 21, 2009 9:55 am

    What an interesting storyline! I like Pratchett but haven’t tackled this trilogy yet.

  4. May 21, 2009 10:13 am

    Kailana – If you listen to audiobooks at all, I really recommend them for this series… Stephen Briggs does such a great job with the voices of the Feegles.

    Desert Rose – Mwahahah! Hope you enjoy it! :)

    Belle – Any recommendations for where in Pratchett-land I should head next?

  5. liz (aka Conan) permalink
    May 21, 2009 3:56 pm

    Terry Prachett is one of my all time favs I often tell the kids it’s like Douglas Adams does Harry Potter! Sad that he is now stricken with Alzheimers! Did you ever read ‘Good Omens’ a collaberation between he and Neil Gaimen of Anansi Boys, American Gods & Graveyard Book … need I say more!

  6. May 21, 2009 4:02 pm

    “Even more, I really appreciate the worldview and sensibility that’s present in these books.”

    This is one of the main reasons why I love Terry Pratchett as much as I do. I feel this way about all of this books, and it really speaks to me.

    Anyway, I agree: not quite up there with the first two, but still very enjoyable.

    PS: I know you were asking Belle and not me, but I’m gonna answer anyway :P Nation, Nation, Nation! From what I know of your taste, I think you’d really enjoy it (and there’s also your love of science, which would probably add to your appreciation of it).

  7. May 21, 2009 4:39 pm

    liz – I have read Good Omens, but at the time I thought it was one of those books that would benefit from a re-read… so I should go do that, huh?

    Nymeth – Well, I was really asking everyone who’s more of a Pratchett-o-phile than I was, so I appreciate the answer. :)

  8. liz (aka Conan) permalink
    May 22, 2009 7:36 pm

    Yes you should, the hounds of hell becoming a jack russelll come on funny stuff. Have you read American Gods! love it, have reread it several times and enjoy it every time! What does happen to peoples beliefs when they immigrate and change to become one with their new country?! Hey the scene with the egyptian cat god!

  9. May 22, 2009 9:58 pm

    The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky must be great if they’re better than a book that scored a 4 out of 5!

  10. May 25, 2009 12:33 pm

    liz – I have read American Gods… I think I’ve read almost all of Neil Gaiman’s fiction, although I’m still missing some of his short story collections and some of his stuff for younger kids.

    bermudaonion – It’s only by a slim matter of degrees that this one isn’t quite as good, but I did give A Hat Full of Sky a 4.5. :)

  11. liz (aka Conan) permalink
    June 4, 2009 6:33 pm

    Graveyard book just won the Newbery award. I was surprised as the opening scene has a really evil character moving through a house with a large bloody knife killing a family. Only the toddler makes it out alive. Excellent read notwithstanding!

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