Wintersmith

Terry Pratchet's Wintersmith

I was lucky, during my travel to England, to be able to grab a copy of Terry Pratchet’s last Discworld novel, Wintersmith. I have been reading Discworld books for a long time now, from the original stories of Rincewinds woes to the more structured stories of the Ank Morpork’s watch or the Witch stories. Wintersmith is the next installement of the adventures of young witch Tiffany Aching. I really enjoyed reading this book, but I can’t help feeling some kind of empty feeling afterwards. The book is well written and the characters are endearing, but in the end it is just a Discworld story like the others before, i.e. there is not much of a story, basically is something terrible is again triggered and there is a lot of running around and interacting, and then the problem is solved in a more or less satisfactory way. In my opinion, Terry Pratchet was never good with endings, and he seems to solve this problem by basically packing the full resolution of the story in one chapter.

In the Discworld, stories are a form of magic of its own right, and once started they have to go to the classical end. Discworld novels seem to also follow this pattern, they seem to be designed to be children’s stories for adults, the story is known, the book is just retelling it in a slightly different way and we get to see likable characters again. One theme of the book is how things in stories are not like they are in reality, from the Wintersmith trying to play a human role to Tiffany’s reaction to shepherdesses in romance books not looking after the sheep. Yet the Wintersmith book suffers from the same problem: the kids in it don’t behave like kids or teenagers. In the end an old man’s vision of a twelve year country girl is as close as the romance books vision. It still makes an very enjoyable reading, but with little more virtue than novels with saucy shepherdesses…

Edit: corrected many mistakes, thanks to Anne for pointing it out.

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