Monday, July 28, 2014
Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I'm not sure Terry Pratchett can write a bad book, but Wintersmith is unlikely to be many people's favourite Discworld novel. The plot is hardly gripping and old favourites Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg seem to have been brought in to support a fairly weak cast. These include the Feegles: probably the most irritating characters in the whole Discworld series. If I were Scottish, I would probably find their stereotyped speech and behaviour offensive, but since I'm English it's merely irritating.
The plot concerns likeable teen witch Tiffany, who inadvertently becomes the love interest of the Wintersmith, the god of winter. She ambles around the rural areas of the disc, learning and dispensing witchy wisdom while trying to fend off the attentions of the Wintersmith and rescue summer. Some of the plot seems forced, with characters such as Roland being given a role simply because they were in earlier books and readers would wonder why they had disappeared. Horace the cheese seems to be there for no reason whatsoever.
As an opponent, the Wintersmith seems more of an annoyance than a menace, but the old witch Miss Treason is a lot of fun, keeping Tiffany on her toes while revealing the wicked and funny tricks of the real trade: helping people not through magic but by exploiting their credulity.
Yes, there's some trademark humour and clever philosophical musings that make Wintersmith a fun read, but Pratchett isn't really on top form here.
Note: The publisher deserves some criticism here. The book is labelled "A Story of Discworld". This, apparently, means that it's for young adults, which explains why it sometimes seems simplistic and shallow. But there's nothing to warn the uninitiated that this is YA.
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