Monday, September 16, 2013

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett Read Along Part 1

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week the links to the other posts can be found at Dab of Darkness.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 4.

1) Did anyone else read the Feegle Glossary in the Introduction? What Feegle words have you incorporated into your daily speech?

I did indeed read the Glossary. I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the words were already familiar to me from my time in Scotland. However, I have to report that ‘boggin’ has a slightly different meaning in the North of England, where it means ‘not very nice’ or ‘disgusting’. This is probably due to the word ‘bog’ being used as a euphemism for ‘toilet’ . . . I can now be heard to exclaim “Crivens!” or “Wailey, wailey, wailey!” on a regular basis.

2) Chapter 1 starts the story with a flashback. In it, Tiffany says, 'This I choose to do. If there is a price, I choose to pay it.' Pretty ominous, huh? How did you feel about the serious nature of this first chapter?

I am not a great fan of stories that begin at the end, so to speak, but I can forgive Sir Terry pretty much anything. Also, it does continue the very serious nature of the threat in A Hat Full of Sky, where the Hiver appeared to have consumed Tiffany. We will see how successfully the story leads us to that situation, but I expect it to be done with skill and great ingenuity because this author is a master at his art.

I did like the ominous overtones and the seriousness of the threat posed by the Wintersmith’s obsession with the Big Wee Hag. It also gave the later chapters a much more sinister feel when they could have felt somewhat silly and light hearted. The idea of all the snowflakes looking like tiffany could have been quite funny if we had not had this slap in the face right at the start.

3) Ms. Treason is 113 years old, and odd. What aspect of her oddness was most endearing to you? Which the most disturbing?

As a relatively ‘odd’ person myself, I am always rather forgiving of eccentricity in others, especially if it is benign. I love the fact that Ms Treason makes up so many gruesome stories about herself in order to gain respect and to put the locals at ease with her. As a reader I do not find much of her oddness very disturbing, but I can see how her ability to ‘borrow’ your senses could be more than a little disturbing for the girls in her care. I am truly sorry that she will be leaving us at the unpardonably young age of eleventy-three. 

4) Miss Tick finds herself once again persecuted for being a witch, and is being held per the instructions of Witch Hunting for Dumb People (which she secretly wrote). What instructions or tidbits would you include in such a book, or in one entitled Feegle Hunting for Really Dumb People?

I was a little confused about her inclusion of the ducking: surely she would write about how only uncivilized people do that and that others test for a witch by seeing how many cakes she can eat, or something similar. But perhaps there is some residual smartness in even the dumbest people.

As for Feegle Hunting: surely this simply entails placing a small container, such as a small bathtub, full of Special Sheep Liniment in an open place and then waiting until they are reeling drunk. At that point they should be reasonably easy to catch, especially if you have a lawyer to herd them into your container of choice.

5) After Tiffany wakes up after the Morris Dance, she stomps off into the snow to cool off & yells for the Wintersmith. What amused you about that scene?

I like the way that Tiffany is going through a period of teenage angst. She obviously has feelings for Roland, but the rush of hormones has her all in a dither as she tries to deny what those feelings are. At this point she sees the Wintersmith as attractive simply because he is mysterious and openly interested in her. She has no idea how to respond him or how to cope with the feelings that he elicits.

I found it amusing that an immortal entity, like the Wintersmith, could be equally confused by this situation. I loved the way he fled when she screamed and I could imagine him wondering what he had done wrong.

6) Boffo and little assumptions fed ticking clocks. What do you think of Ms. Treason's little tricks?

Ms Treason is a great example of giving people what they need to get things done, which I believe is one of Granny Weatherwax’s lessons in A Hat Full of Sky. Being nice and honest is all well and good in most cases, but sometimes a witch needs to have authority so that people will do as they are told without question. Ms Treason creates her authority by being almost as terrifying as the things she is called upon to ‘cure’. She is a perfect example of why bad tasting medicine is more effective than something that tastes nice: it fulfills our expectations far more effectively and our minds add a powerful does of psychology to the drug.

7) We have been reintroduced to Roland, but this time we learn a little more about his family: his ill father and his controlling aunts. What do you think Roland will do about this problem?

I hope that the secret passage that is mentioned will provide him with access to help of some type. In fact, I wonder if he is the ‘Hero’ that the Feegles mention in the first chapter, in which case he has been learning how to use a sword. Does it make me a bad person that I hope he uses the sword on his aunts?

Even if he is not the ‘Hero’, he seems to be taking pains to protect some of his father’s wealth and also to reduce the aunts’ ability to run the estate. At least he is not simply sitting about feeling sorry for himself. I was rather touched by his determination to not ask Tiffany for help because he wants her to concentrate on her studies. He has risen in my estimation quite a bit and I do hope he ends up as her Knight in Shining Armor.


  1. I loved reading this - you brought up so many of the things I was thinking as I was reading. Unfortunately most thoughts seemed to leave my simple brain at twice the speed they entered! For example, I'd forgotten about the Hiver *bbrrrr!*
    This Wintersmith is a bit of a potential stalker. What with following Tiffany around and now making little snowflake pictures. That's the sort of the thing that starts off making you think 'aww, how sweet' and ends up with the chalk hills covered in a whole load of snow.
    Definitely with the teenage angst - like stomping out when she was getting a bit of a telling off! And, then to find out the little blue guys are reading your personal diary entries - *dies of embarrassment*.
    The aunts - they're terrible, they're selling everything off the pair of swines!
    Lynn :D

  2. I'm afraid maybe even the dumbest witch hunters know you're supposed to either drown or burn witches, unfortunately :). Then again, maybe there is no limit to the dumbness. I had forgotten about the mention of the "Hero". I hope that's Roland, because it will seem odd if it's just someone who pops up out of nowhere! I agree the Tiffany flakes were made a bit more serious by how they inspired Tiffany's hatred of him in the prologue (I assume those were his "special snowflakes"). It was a bit funny though, that none of Tiffany's friends even noticed.

  3. If we didn't have that serious chapter at the beginning, which shows us where the stoy is going, I think you are right that people would be taking Tiffany versus the Wintersmith more as a lark than a potential global cooling that it might turn into.

    Haha! I love your method for catching Feegles. I am tempted to give it a try, but I am afraid I would merely capture the local drunks. They don't wear kilts, nor are they tattooed in blue ink, so there isn't much attraction to capturing them.

    Yes, Ms. Treason does have the psychology down, doesn't she? That's one of the things I really like about Pratchett's witches - they do more thinking than they do magic.

    Roland has come a fair distance, hasn't he? In Book 1 he was a bit of a brat. Now, in Book 3 he's a friend and a penpal, and actually thinking of others. Makes me want to root for him.


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