I love the Tiffany Aching character within Terry Pratchett‘s imaginative and expansive Discworld, though I found this book a little slow in the middle. Though anatomy majors will do better, and we typically divide the books by characters (Rincewind, Witches, Tiffany, DEATH, the Watch, Moist von Lipwig, etc.), the Discworld books can roughly be lumped into Mysteries, Quests, and a Showdown. Each of these categories–and various combinations of categories–includes an amusing and sometimes thoughtful cast of characters in a kind of romp rush to the end.
Frankly, the last category is not always the best, though when combined with a Quest or Mystery it works well. In this particular novel, Wintersmith’s characters were not as strong. The Nac Mac Feegles are entertaining, but they don’t root the reader as well in this piece–despite a host of great one liners. I think we needed a bit more time with Roland, a character with potential in this pretty inversion of power that Pratchett is working with.
In Wintersmith, Pratchett has combined “Showdown” with Myth, a category he plays with throughout the entire series. This time, though, he specifically retells one of the Greek myths, the Orpheus tale, with hints at other folkloric solstice stories. As a tale, it works pretty well, with a redemptive rush to the ending that was fun to read. The mythic elements result in some lovely imagery and really some of his most evocative writing. Overall, though, Wintersmith hasn’t made the best book in Pratchett‘s brilliant bookshelf.
Wintersmith is, however, a great winter read and the snow was falling heavily as I read the last few pages. Wintersmith is also a transition book, elevating Tiffany to a level of extraordinary power and insight, making her the natural echo of Granny Weatherwax. Wintersmith is also a good set up for I Shall Wear Midnight, which I am told is a book I should have read some time ago.
I Shall Wear Midnight. Just the name is thrilling.