by Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5 Stars
‘When the Spirit of Winter takes a fancy to young witch Tiffany Aching, he wants her to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. For ever.
It will take all 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…’
This is the review of the third book in a series and therefore contains mild spoilers for the preceding novels.
This book is the third in my Tiffany Aching re-read and, for me, the book where Tiffany really starts to get a hold on her future. It also has one of my favourite openings in any book; Tiffany moving the fire to melt the snow is such an incredibly well written scene. The subsequent jump back in time also allows Pratchett to reel the reader in shamelessly.
Since the events of A Hat Full of Sky Tiffany has developed something of a reputation for strong magic amongst the mountain witches. She’s moved ‘placement’ to live with Miss Treason – a witch near the end of her life, with a very specific attitude to witching – and she’s begun to develop her own understanding of what witching actually involves. It’s really enjoyable to see what makes a Discworld and I love the parallels this sets up with the older witches that Tiffany learns from. Pratchett never lets us forget that they were once in Tiffany’s position, that they didn’t just spring to life as crones. For me, this is the best thing about Pratchett’s witches, besides how he deals with stereotypes and attitudes to women, he never lets us forget that they’re human and they have stories of their own.
Now that Tiffany’s a bit older, I really enjoyed reading about the politicking amongst the witches and Tiffany’s developing attitude to this as she learns to play the game in her own way. This book is really about Tiffany deciding what sort of witch she’s going to be now that she truly understands what witching is.
I feel like The Wintersmith is a much better antagonist than the Hiver, there was something so sad about the hiver in its own way. But the Wintersmith is a different kettle of fish all together. He’s a brilliant blend of human and other and his quest to discover ‘what makes a man’ offers some great interludes between Tiffany’s own exploits.
Another set of interludes that I really enjoyed, was the series detailing Roland’s exploits against his tyrannical Aunts and his efforts to hide it from Tiffany. It was great getting a glimpse of what was going on on the other side of their letters.
The mythology that Pratchett is dealing with here, seasons and deities, the embodiment of forces of nature, is dealt with very deftly and in a highly original way. I love Nanny Ogg’s view on the whole affair – particular in relation to her vegetable store.
I’ve said this in my previous reviews, but I do believe that one of the best things about Tiffany is that she is very obviously fallible. She’s only a girl, for all of her practicality and determination to be grown up. She makes mistakes, often very big mistakes, but she doesn’t run from them. No matter how harmless a dance might seem…