Monday, September 23, 2013

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett Read Along Part 2

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 Over the Effing Rainbow.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 7.

1. "I'm not here..." At Miss Treason's funeral, we see Tiffany get the better of the Feegles, sneaky though they are! What do you think of the way Tiffany's 'witching' is getting better here?

I really like the way that Tiffany develops her powers slowly and by exposure to new situations. It makes a nice change from the all too common instant super powers of many protagonists in Fantasy, especially YA. I also love how so much of being a witch is common sense and psychology. I know that it is rather insulting to the ‘normal’ people, but it is a hilarious take on the idea of magic and the actual talents of the real, historical witches.

Coming from Lancaster, I was brought up hearing about the Pendle Witches, who were imprisoned in Lancaster Castle and then hung in the city. It seems that intolerance and superstition were the main causes of the accusations that led to the convictions, with a moral vacuum allowing neighbors to turn on each other and victimize the poorest and most unusual in the area. I would love to see Granny Weatherwax facing down a court that tried to accuse her of cackling too much! :D

2. It's decided that Annagramma gets the cottage, at the meeting of witches - but we learn that Mistress Weatherwax put Tiffany forward for it. Do you think Tiffany should have gotten the cottage?

I am not sure that Tiffany should have got it automatically, but I certainly do not think that Annagramma is ready to face this challenge because she has been taught so little about real witching as Ms Treason did it. I am sure that there are many forms of witching and many ways of handling the locals that you care for, but Anna does not seem to have been educated to care for a community at all. In fact, I am not sure what exactly she has been prepared for, apart from being an outrageous snob.

I predict that Anna will do a terrible job, have a nervous break down and Tiffany will need to pick up the pieces. However, I had always assumed that Tiffany would go back to the Chalk, so I am not sure that I want to see her take over as the witch in this particular area.

3. Nanny Ogg appears at last, to take Tiffany in while the Wintersmith's about. Next to Mistress Weatherwax, she's my favorite of the witches! What do you think of her so far?

Nanny Ogg seems to be almost the total opposite of Granny Weatherwax, although they are both very wise and powerful. Somehow I imagine that they are best friends and have the greatest respect for each other, although they would never admit that to anyone else. I can also see them working together secretly as ‘good cop / bad cop’ in order to manipulate people into getting what they want. I am dying to know more about Nanny’s past and why she has such a dirty laugh! :D

4. We learn a little more about "the dance" that Tiffany interrupted, now - and I love the summer-winter mythology that's explained to her here. What's your take on the effect it's having on Tiffany (and her feet)? And do you think we'll be seeing more of the Summer Lady as well as the Wintersmith?

It makes sense that the Wintersmith creates snow and ice whilst the Summer Lady makes plants grow and flourish. At first I thought they kept asking about her feet because they had pulled her into the Dance, but this makes much more sense. I loved the growing floorboards and the aged onion seeds and I have to commend Nanny Ogg on her practical use of Tiffany’s feet to supplement her larder!

If they are right, and Tiffany is becoming the Summer Lady, then we will obviously see much more of her abilities manifesting themselves through the big wee hag. If they are wrong, then the Summer Lady herself will show up to see who is messing up her part of the Dance and getting all the attention. I predict much mayhem will ensue whichever occurs.

5. Poor Annagramma ... I'm starting to have a little more sympathy for her now, as she turns up desperately seeking skulls! Do you think she's got what it takes to be a good witch, when it counts? Or is her case as hopeless as it seems?

I suppose I can agree to feel sympathy for Anna, after all she is only regurgitating the garbage that Mrs Earwig has taught her and does not know how stupid she actually is. I think she could make a good witch, if she can only forget most of her previous training and start to listen to advice from other witches. She might have learnt something from Tiffany during these few cases, but she did seem somewhat oblivious to what was actually being done, so I am not sure. If she does not change soon the villagers will riot and she might find herself being replaced the mad old lady with the moldy leaf poultices.

6. Oh, dear. Rob Anybody has a Plan ... With all of the seriousness surrounding what Tiffany's gotten herself into, do you think the Feegles can help her this time? Or are even they in over their heads?

Ah yes, Rob’s Plan. I was a little disappointed that he did not decide to make it more official and write it down this time around, but then I was surprised that it involved something other than drinking, fighting and stealing! I loved the scene with the freezing librarians and their total inability to even think of burning their books – that would be me! :D

One great thing about the Feegles is that they are never overwhelmed by any situation: they always assume that they can survive somehow and are natural optimists. However, I think their almost total lack of Romantic skill, with the possible exception of Rob Anybody, will be a problem this time around as they cannot simply head-butt their way out of this situation. However, at least they are doing something other than standing about shouting “Wailey! Wailey! Wailey!”

Other Thoughts

One of the aspects that I love about Terry Pratchett’s writing is that he always includes such memorable side characters. I loved the showdown between You, the kitten, and the mighty, and certainly evil, Greebo: I have seen similar interactions many times and it always makes me laugh. I also love Horace and the thought of him as an adopted Feegle, with kilt, had me giggling away for quite some time.


  1. It is great that Pratchett doesn't rely on the instant super power gimmick to make his lead characters bad ass.

    Oh yes. I would not mind having a cup of tea with Nanny Ogg and learning about her past and her current life. She seems to be such a fascinating person.

    Yes, I think Annagramma is in for a bad time of it, and yet I am not too sad over that. Perhaps it is the only way she can learn.

    1. I am sure that Nanny Ogg is busy writing her own version of Fifty Shades of Grey even as we speak! :D

  2. I definitely like the lack of insta-powers. I also like that Tiffany is not special for any other reason than that she is clever and herself (a sheep-farming girl who makes good cheeses). It's a nice change from protagonists who are secretly a princess or a supernatural creature or something (not that these are necessarily always bad).

    Also, I love your idea of Good-Cop-Ogg and Bad-Cop-Weatherwax. They make quite a duo.

    I loved that scene with the wandering librarians, too. I thought it was surprisingly nice that they rescued the librarians. I don't usually think of the Feegles as charitable, and I would have expected them to just burn the books by force or something. It was really nice of them to bring back the oxen as payment.

    1. Yeah, I get a little tired of the 'ordinary girl who suddenly is the only person in the world who can defeat the Big Bad'. Sometimes it is done very well, and with a credible back story, as in Harry Potter, but most of the time it feels a lot like Mary Sue-ism to me.

      I was also surprised that the Feegles were decent and honest with the Librarians - perhaps they are suffering from a case of mass niceness (a bit like mass hysteria, but with biscuits). :D

  3. I really liked the way the Feegles returned the libraries cows to them - and they were travelling backwards! So funny.
    It amazes me reading this story just how insightful Pratchett's writing is - particularly about females and the way they think. For example Tiffany's anger over Roland and his looking at another female's watercolours! And then you can contrast this with the way the Feegles are around females and how they fall to pieces with the folded arms, pursed lips and foot tapping! I love it.
    My link :
    Lynn :D


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