I confess: I reread Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky to prepare myself for Wintersmith (one book in my last Amazon splurge). This is the third Tiffany Aching Adventure and as it recently came out in paperback I decided I would stop tantalizing myself and go ahead and read it. I always try to keep a couple of Pratchett books unread (like Going Postal currently) so I always have something to look forward to.
Wintersmith continues the story of Tiffany Aching who now finds herself witching with Miss Treason: an ancient woman who has been witching in the mountains for nearly a century. One fall evening Miss Treason takes Tiffany to watch the Dance, which is a silent Morris dance that greets the Winter and says farewell to the Summer. With his accustomed humor and wit, Pratchett poses the question of what would happen if a young girl happened to join the dance? And what happens when Summer and Winter are two anthropormorphic personifications (or elemental gods) and Tiffany accidentally steps into Summer’s place?
Tiffany might have to become the new Summer and deal with the romantic attentions of Winter.
In retrospect, A Hat Full of Sky was definitely a bit of a plateau in the Tiffany Aching series. It was fun and there was some excellent character development, but after finishing Wintersmith it really seemed to act as a filler of space and detail for this novel. (However, considering how much I enjoyed A Hat Full of Sky it was a pretty damn good filler.) Wintersmith picks up on more of Pratchett’s adult themes and humor, which is certainly still young adult appropriate but is more reminiscent of the other novels in the Discworld series.
One theme in the book, which is fundamentally important to the novel, was self-sacrifice or doing things for others regardless of thanks or praise. Pratchett also spends a good deal of time exploring the illusion in people’s lives. This ranges from Miss Treason’s supply of imported fake skulls and cobwebs from Boffo’s Fun Emporium to lying to peasant’s about goblins to get them to practice more hygenic food and water preparations after they have ignored the factual reasoning.
In Wintersmith I tried to pay a bit more attention to Pratchett’s philosophical addresses that really are one of my favorite reasons for reading the Discworld novels. Though bound in a few layers of cotton, the indirectness of Pratchett’s queries does not lessen their meaning but does allow the book to be read entirely for enjoyment sake as well.
And on a final note, I would say this past week at work I have suggested Pratchett to more people (i.e. written down his name on the backs of receipts if I have not actually placed a Discworld novel in a hand) than I ever have before. Discworld fandom can be quite contagious and I do not mind at all spreading it about.