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Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 35) (Discworld…
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Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 35) (Discworld Novels) (original 2006; edition 2010)

by Terry Pratchett (Author), Paul Kidby (Illustrator)

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6,446129932 (4.13)259
Member:Sammystarbuck
Title:Wintersmith: (Discworld Novel 35) (Discworld Novels)
Authors:Terry Pratchett (Author)
Other authors:Paul Kidby (Illustrator)
Info:Corgi Childrens (2010), 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, humour, kids

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Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett (2006)

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Showing 1-5 of 122 (next | show all)
Terry Pratchett really was unique. Not only did he manage to write a mammoth series of deep, thought-provoking books covering just about every social, political and religious debate you can think of and disguise it as silly fantasy, but he also managed the impossible: A series of children's books that isn't even remotely patronising or condescending.

Honestly, much as I enjoy the world of Harry Potter, for example, I still haven't been able to get through the first book. The condescending tone sets my teeth on edge. The subsequent books get progressively better, until the epilogue of the last book, where we go right back to patronising again! ARGH! I know the book was meant for kids, and granted, most kids don't mind, but Pratchett proves with Tiffany Aching that talking down to your readers is not necessary. At all.

So yes, I heartily recommend this - and the other books in the series - for young and old. ( )
  Sammystarbuck | May 13, 2019 |
Find the story, Granny Weatherwax always said. She believed that the world was full of story shapes. If you let them, they controlled you. But if you studied them, if you found out about them . . . you could use them, you could change them . . .
We've met Tiffany Aching before, in The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky, and know that she is a young witch on the Discworld's Chalk, the uplands where the principal occupation is shepherding. In Wintersmith she is on the cusp of her teens but has already ratcheted up an impressive CV, having defeated the Fairy Queen and overcome a crisis of identity in the form of the Hiver.

Here, however, she has a rather more challenging antagonist in the form of the embodiment (if that's the right word for a disembodied being) of the coldest season of the year. To stop the Wintersmith's personal interest in her and the prospect of the land permanently locked in snow and ice she has to understand the power of story.

And for us to fully appreciate Wintersmith I too believe, like Granny Weatherwax, that we have to find and study story shapes to comprehend how Pratchett uses them to control, in ever so satisfyingly a fashion, his narrative.

How did Tiffany get into the situation where the Wintersmith was made aware of her, a human child? The answer comes with Pratchett's concept of the Dark Morris, the winter equivalent of the Morris traditionally danced around May Day to usher in the summer. (The Dark Morris is not, by the way, to be confused with the Mummer's Play, which often takes place around midwinter.) Brought by her mentor, Miss Treason---Mystery's On?---to witness the Dark Morris, Tiffany finds she is unable to help herself and joins in the dance, usurping the place of Summer. As a result the Wintersmith becomes aware of her; and as a result of becoming aware of her 'he' pursues her, tries to woo her---with snowflakes in her image, bringing huge drifts of snow and intense cold to the Chalk and threatening a season of snow and ice all year round.

How Tiffany learns to manage this dire situation is through changing the story shapes she finds herself in. For that she needs help in the form of her idiosyncratic mentors Granny Weatherwax, Miss Treason, Nanny Ogg and Miss Tick, with rather more dubious aid from the Nac Mac Feagles and the brave support of her friend Roland. Along the way she continues to expand her powers as a witch, which includes learning herself how to mentor a rather inadequate witch.

Now, the stories. What is it, to be human? This is at the core of Wintersmith, indeed at the core of all of Pratchett's stories. The Wintersmith tries hard to be human, to make himself into a simulacrum of one, using elements to fashion himself a body. But it isn't materials alone that maketh man, it's abstract qualities: love enough to break a heart for example. Mythology is full of examples of human simulacra which lack those specifically human qualities; in Welsh myth, for example, Blodeuwedd is just such a creature: made from flowers she is eventually turned into an owl after betraying her husband. The unending dance of Winter and Summer is also the theme of much mythology: Persephone's abduction is the best known example of the seasons going awry. Orpheus going into the Underworld to rescue Euridice is another story that is faintly recognisable here, when young Roland ventures forth to awaken Summer.

And Roland's name is no fluke either, suggesting yet another story that Pratchett refashions. Unlike Robert Browning and Shakespeare’s fairytale figure---'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came'---Pratchett's Roland escapes from his tower (where he is besieged by his wicked aunts) to rescue the Sleeping Beauty that is Summer from her enforced hibernation.

It's all about balance, but unlike Hamlet ("The time is out of joint. O cursed spite, | that ever I was born to set it right") Tiffany knows, despite her youth, that she has the responsibility to undo her literal faux pas and return seasonal order to the world. Along the way she learns a few more of life's lessons---the poignancy of death, for example, and the pain of responsibility---which, one hopes, will add to her resilience and resolution to do the right thing.

So many stories, but I can only hint at a few. Still, stories get their power from appealing protagonists and Tiffany is just such a one. And the source of her power? It's heart. As Pratchett well knew.

Strength enough to build a home
Time enough to hold a child
Love enough to break a heart ( )
  ed.pendragon | Apr 3, 2019 |
Oh waily, waily, waily!

This will be the last Terry Pratchett I read in a while, at least until 'I Shall Wear Midnight' comes out in paperback this fall and 'Snuff' gets published. Discworld is an incredible amount of fun and Pratchett has once again blurred the lines between his regular novels and those featuring the adventures of an increasingly grown-up Tiffany Aching. 'Wintersmith' does not disappoint.

Pratchett perhaps took a cue from J.K. Rowling by ramping up the complexity of the story and the characters as the series goes on and the characters grow older. Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but this is pretty rare isn't it for children's books? There is always growth of character and new stories but the writing style and reading level remains static. This is true from classics such as Gertrude Chandler Warner's The Boxcar Children (who did age in the books she wrote herself, but after her death the children's ages reverse a couple years and freeze) to Beverly Cleary's Ramona, and John Bellairs' Lewis Barnevelt as it is for the more modern Phillip Pullman's Lyra Belacqua. The stories can be sophisticated and growth happens, but the writing style and tone and material stays the same throughout the series. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew only entered darker territory in completely separate series with cannons that were strictly separate from the main books, and Encyclopedia Brown certainly never showed more than a passing interest in Sally and Bugs Meaney made plenty of fists but never did anything with them.

There are obvious benefits to keeping everything on the same level certainly, a child who goes into a spate of reading everything by an author they can get their hands on will find more of exactly what they're looking for. The kid can gain more proficiency because reading is reading, but won't become confused or challenged by more unexplained complex language and darker themes than they might be prepared for. It's hard to explain the drawbacks I see in what Rowling or Pratchett did without somehow advocating that children shouldn't be challenged or should be limited to books "within their age group," an injustice I struggled against with some teachers when I was in grade school.

The only examples aside from Rowling and Pratchett is maybe the differences between Susan Cooper's 'Over Sea, Under Stone' and the rest of 'The Dark is Rising' sequence, and, another stretch, J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'. Is it a coincidence that these are works of fantasy? Were those differences more accidental than planned? Because I could believe that of those examples, but never of Rowling or Pratchett.

I was an almost perfect contemporary of Harry Potter (though I outstripped him in age the last few books) so it was perfect for me and reading Tiffany Aching as an adult proved no hardship either. But will a ten-year-old fresh off of 'The Wee Free Men' and 'A Hat Full of Sky' be able to make the leap to 'Wintersmith' easily? I don't know. I'm not going to try and stop her, but I'd hate to see someone discouraged after going out of their depth. Maybe I'm not giving ten-year-olds enough credit. I probably should be more worried about the type of parents that will see the word S-E-X in print and panic.

The whole idea of books growing up along with their readers is brave, innovative and risky; its something I'm curious to know more about. Children's authors are usually quite scrupulous about keeping their work within certain boundaries, helped along by editors and publishers I'm sure. Which isn't a bad thing, how would I have felt if Omri's parents' marriage in the 'Indian in the Cupboard' series began dissolving just as he began to notice girls (Lynne Reid Banks was a successful novelist for adults first), or if Brian Jacques had started using a post-modern narrative for his 'Redwall' books and introduced more shades of grey into his moral scheme? They might have been better. I might have stopped reading them. Who knows?

Maybe I'm just over-thinking, maybe none of this makes any sense to anyone but me. But I think it's a great experiment and I wonder if anyone else will pick up on it.

One more thing - considering Pratchett's fight with Alzheimer's, I found one quote particularly poignant:

"And, as always happens, and happens far too soon, the strange and wonderful becomes a memory and a memory becomes a dream. Tomorrow it's gone."

Discworld

Next: 'Making Money'

Previous: 'Thud!' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
"Humans were made up of nearly all of [the Lesser Elements] but also contained a lot of narrativium, the basic element of stories..."

Sir Terry puts Tiffany into the ancient tale of summer and winter, and she makes it her own. She has copious help from the inimitable Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, also the Nac Mac Feegles and Roland. I greatly enjoyed the addition of Miss Treason, and You, the white kitten in whom Granny Weatherwax (and Greebo) finally met their match. Annagramma's story was classic witching. The Wintersmith's story was bittersweet, steeped in a wonderful magical sadness but also hope. ( )
1 vote Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
I love Pratchett's Discworld books, and I particularly love the Tiffany Aching books, so it was a surprise to me that I apparently missed noticing Wintersmith for ten years. Well, at least it means a new-for-me Pratchett when I thought that opportunity was gone.

Tiffany Aching is an apprentice witch, currently living with a witch in the mountains, far from her beloved chalk hills. She's taken as part of her training to watch a dance she didn't know existed, the Dark Morris, which brings the beginning of winter as the Morris Dance we know brings the beginning of summer.

Since this is the Discworld, the dances really do bring the starts of those seasons.

Tiffany's feet, unfortunately, get the better of her. She steps into the dance, and dances with the Wintersmith, and gets some of the traits and powers of Lady Summer tangled up in herself. The Wintersmith thinks he has fallen in love with her.

This is, of course, is a problem for everyone, especially when the Wintersmith wants to marry her and cause Summer to never come again. The Wintersmith has no real idea what being a person is all about, or why Tiffany is upset about the lambs dying when a blizzard hits too late in what should be spring, or why she doesn't love the ice palace he's made to lure her.

The second half is a Discworld take on Orpheus and Eurydice, and both Tiffany and the local lord's son she rescued from the elf queen's court previously, take a few more steps toward adulthood.

It's a fine taste of Pratchett, and a nice surprise for me to find it, when I thought there wasn't anything more.

Recommended.

I bought this audiobook. ( )
  LisCarey | Sep 19, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidby, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RobinAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayer, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paracchini, FabioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stengel, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'And he won her freedom by playing beautiful music,' Roland added. 'I think he played a lute, or maybe it was a lyre.' 'Ach, wheel, that'll soot us fine,' said Daft Wullie. 'We're experts at looting and then lying aboot it.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060890339, Paperback)

When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. It will take the young witch's skill and cunning, as well as help from the legendary Granny Weatherwax and the irrepressible Wee Free Men, to survive until Spring. Because if Tiffany doesn't make it to Spring—

—Spring won't come.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:06 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

When witch-in-training Tiffany Aching accidentally interrupts the Dance of the Seasons and awakens the interest of the elemental spirit of Winter, she requires the help of the six-inch-high, sword-wielding, sheep-stealing Wee Free Men to put the seasons aright.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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