Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Wintersmith

by Terry Pratchett

cover  

At 13, Tiffany Aching still has a thing or two to learn about witchcraft. She goes to the cobweb-strewn cottage of Miss Treason, an ancient hag who is odd even by witch standards. Tiffany is there to learn about the mysterious art of Boffo, the secret of Miss Treason's success.

It's when Tiffany accompanies Miss Treason to a ceremony to mark the turning of the seasons that she puts a foot wrong, following her instincts and not her head, and ends up allowing the spirit of winter to fall in love with her. Only the wintersmith's advances involve snowstorms, icebergs in her image, roses sculpted out of ice, and deadly cold.

Of course, wherever Tiffany goes the Nac Mac Feegles aren't far behind. They feel it's their duty to look after the "big wee hag", and that includes intercepting her letters and reading her padlocked diary. At an age when a bit of privacy would be especially welcome, Tiffany has to find her own ways of keeping out prying eyes. And it doesn't help that Miss Treason is blind, and regularly borrows other people's eyes to do her seeing for her.

"... no man wants to be a coward in front of a cheese"

Meanwhile, Roland de Chumsfanleigh, the Baron of the Chalk's heir, has been writing to Tiffany regularly. If he can avoid the influence of his aunts he may even grow into a decent young man.

Anagramma Hawkin is also recovering from a bad influence. She's a young witch who has been taught the wrong kind of witchcraft by Mrs Earwig. Mrs Earwig's brand of magic doesn't impress Granny Weatherwax, and it seems as though Anagramma will be set up to fail, to the detriment of all the villagers she is responsible for.

Tiffany has all this to deal with, as the winter draws in, cutting off roads and freezing people and animals, and the wintersmith could find her at any time.

Wintersmith is another Discworld delight, full of well-observed characters and funny dialogue. There's even a sentient cheese called Horace. Pratchett mixes up the angst of growing up with his own brand of whimsical humour and fantasy-world logic. Even the utterly fearless Feegles manage to learn a new brand of heroics, as most of the main characters face their fears and learn to overcome them. It's a cracking read.

Book Details

Year: 2006

Categories: Books

  YA     Fantasy
 
  Cheerful
  Female Protagonist  

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5 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
More about Terry Pratchett