Monday, September 23, 2013

Read-Along: Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, Part 2

It’s time for week two of the read-along of Terry Pratchett’s Wintersmith! This week’s reading is chapters 5 through 7, and questions have been provided by Lisa of the blog Over the Effing Rainbow.  I actually decided to travel to London this weekend, just to get more in the mood of British fantasy while writing my answers!  (Okay, not entirely true, I went to actually went London to see friends, and it just happened to coincide with the Wintersmith reading ^_^.)
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 think it’s kind of interesting that the types of “witching” Tiffany is best at involve manipulating herself, more than her surroundings.  In the previous books, her “See Me” trick was her most advanced skill (though it turned out to be pretty dangerous), and here we see her able to render herself effectively invisible.  Even the warmth magic we see at the beginning of the book primarily involved her holding herself in balance, rather than tossing elemental energy around randomly.  I think it’s a pretty cool take on “witchery”, and it’s also pretty impressive that she can out-hide pictsies. 

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?

No, I don’t think so.  For one thing, she didn’t want it.  She wants to go home to the Chalk.  For another, while she is probably skilled enough at this point to take on a cottage, it would not help her in the witch network.  A lot of witchery seems to be social-network influenced, and having a young girl promoted over all the older, more experienced contenders, just because she was a pet of Mistress Weatherwax’s, would not do wonders for Tiffany’s reputation.  So, I think Mistress Weatherwax would be right to say Tiffany was ready for it, but I don't think everyone else would see it that way.  I tend to agree with Tiffany that the whole situation was a designed by Mistress Weatherwax to show everyone that Mrs. Earwig is a lousy witch teacher.

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

She seems pretty great.  All of the witches we’ve seen so far have been very solitary, so it’s nice to see that this is not necessarily the rule.  It’s also nice to see that women can have magic and families in Discworld.  I like that we have both a very stereotypical witch (Miss Treason) and a very non-stereotypical witch (Nanny Ogg) in the same story.

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?

I think we’ll be seeing more of the Summer Lady in Tiffany, and possibly more minor gods like Anoia.  I think we will definitely see more of the Wintersmith, in a literal sense, because he seems quite determined to construct himself a human body. 

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 think it is as hopeless as it seems.  It’s not that she’s a bad person, but she just really isn’t cut out for this.  And as Nanny Ogg says, Tiffany is not going to get any thanks for helping her. I’m actually wondering if Annagramma is going to realize this really isn’t her calling, and end up going to University to become a female wizard.

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?

I am pretty amazed as to how well their plan seems to be working.  They said, “Tiffany will read anything put in front of her,” and they were so right.  I did like that Tiffany’s initial reaction to the romance novel was that the author didn’t seem to know much about raising and caring for sheep.  I have no idea if this will help her with her feelings about Roland (the Feegles are really not equipped to help her with that), but maybe she can get more used to the idea of romance from the books.  Then again, she is only just thirteen, so she has plenty of time to figure out what the feelings she has about Roland mean.


  1. It is very cool of you to take time to travel to London to get in the British mood for the read along - Pratchett Fan of the Week!

    I like that Tiffany, and some of the other witches, focus their magic on changing themselves and not their surroundings. You can always give yourself permission to experiment on yourself....and wise wisdom of the ages is always telling us that we can really only change ourselves, etc. So, it makes a lot of sense, both from a legal stand point and a proverbial one ;).

    Yes, I do enjoy that Nanny Ogg has this large family with several children/grandchildren, etc and is yet still a witch living on her own helping her community.

    How could I forget about Anoia! So funny. I was cursing her name the other day when the front door jammed on a nice rock between it and the tile floor. I have a lovely gouge in the tile to show for it too.

    1. Oh, Fan of the Week, thanks :D! On self-experimentation being safer legally, it made me think that the Feegles must be happy about Tiffany's tendencies in witchcraft... it keeps the lawyers away. That's rough about your tile, I hope it's not too hard to fix. Anoia would be more useful if she were the kind of deity that *stopped* those sorts of things from happening!

  2. 2. Surely Granny Weatherwax would never stoop so low . . . :D

    4. I am not sure that I actually want to see the Wintermith's body because the ingredients he is collecting sound pretty awful.

    5. I don't know if they do female wizards in the Discworld - I see Anna more as Boffo's assistant or a really bad fortune teller.

    6. I thought Tiffany's reactions to the book were hilarious and somewhat similar to my own responses to certain Romance titles that I've tried to read.

    1. 2. She's a wily one, Granny Weatherwax!

      4. That is true, but maybe it'll come together in the end?

      5. I am still sadly behind on the Discworld series. I think this is my 6th book out of like... 40? I remembered wizards were usually men, but I wasn't sure if it was exclusive.

      6. I'm not a huge fan of romance myself, but I bet I'd have similar reactions about romances that cross into my areas of expertise for frivolous reasons :).

  3. These are the only books I've read in the Discworld series but if they're representative of the rest of the series then I'll definitely continue.
    I think this section of the story has been my favourite of the books this far. I don't exactly know why - it just seemed very funny in places and everything seemed to come together really well. I loved the way that Pratchett seemed insightful about female behaviour in particular. The whole thing with Mistress Weatherwax and Granny Ogg almost makes me look at the way different religions are with vicars and priests - one abstaining the other not! I know that's probably very simplistic but it did sort of make me think like that. Almost like the two witches themselves have their own way of practising 'witchery' but both ways work and they are not only friends but seem to respect each other.
    Whilst I feel sorry for Annagramma I also wonder about her. Even when she actually has help she just falls asleep and so fails to learn anything. I worry about her own motivations and whether or not she can actually change enough.
    My link for Part II :
    Lynn :D

    1. I think they're pretty representative of the general comedic/meaningful style of the rest of the series, at least as far as I've read, though the other books are targeted towards adults. I can say I've yet to read a Discworld book I didn't like :). I think that's an interesting comparison of Ogg/Weatherwax to different traditions in the same religion. I don't know about Annagramma... I don't want to spoil the end of this book, because I've already read it, but I think she would need to do some serious introspection to be able to change enough to become a truly decent witch.