The Discworld series of novels, now 35 or so books in size, are great – there’s simply no denying that. A wonderful mix of imagination, clever thinking, great characters and comedy work to make Terry Pratchett’s work some of the best light literature you’ll find anywhere. The latest in the Discworld line is Wintersmith, featuring some of the newer (mixed with some older) of the Discworld characters. So is Wintersmith a good read? What sort of novel is it? (Bewarned, spoilers ahoy! Crivens!)
Wintersmith centres around the same character set as seen in Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky namely Witch-in-training Tiffany Aching, The Nac Mac Feegles and the various legendary witches such as Granny Weatherwax and Granny Ogg. Greebo makes a low level appearance and Granny Weatherwax manages to collect herself a cat of her own called ‘You’; when the two meet, well … it’s interesting and serves as an interesting lesson in human (cat?) nature.
The plot revolves around a silly and impulsive act of Tiffany’s resulting in the Wintersmith (more or less the personification of winter) falling in love with her; which brings in a whooole lot of problems. The Feegles help out as best they can, causing general mayhem and destruction where-ever they venture but you get the distinct feeling that once again Granny Weatherwax managed to have the whole thing worked out from the very beginning, from the very moment things started to go pear shaped and Mistress Treason walked away with Death.
Wintersmith is not, strictly speaking, a Discworld novel; it is instead a ‘story of Discworld’ which should clue you in that it’s tone not like that of other Discworld books such as The Fifth Elephant or even the more recent Thud!. Oh, the usual comedic elements are present and Wintersmith is certainly a good read but it is not aimed at the typical Discworld audience – it’s more or less one directed at teenagers. That is not to say that the usual Discworld readers won’t enjoy Wintersmith but they should be prepared for a text that’s slightly different; there are no references to Dwarf Bread, Lord Vetineri’s schemes or Rincewind to be found – this is a book that focuses on the trials of Tiffany Aching, using her situation with the Wintersmith to deliver a story that subtely yet concisely tells the tale of a young girl growing up and finding out about herself.
I find myself, however, wishing for a good Death book or one based on the Unseen University; I want to read new tales of Vetineri running the city, I want more on Sam Vimes making criminals hide from the Watch. Wintersmith, as stated, is a good read which will have you perpetually turning pages but it’s not quite what I’m looking for in a Discworld book.