Musings on reading Terry Pratchett's Wintersmith


Title: Wintersmith
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publisher: HarperTempest, 2006. 323 pages.
Source: Library

I don't have the gall to review Terry Pratchett. But I'm happy to share the musings I've had while reading Wintersmith, the 3rd of the Tiffany Aching books. I'm happy to find there is one more. I shall savor the pleasure.

I am a huge fan of Pratchett and his Discworld, and like to think about how he does it, whatever "it" may be. Here, in no particular order, are some thoughts engendered by Wintersmith.

1. Third Thoughts. Pratchett proved his genius when he came up with this one. We all know what Second Thoughts are. I'm going to eat a quart of ice cream. No, on second thoughts, that might not be a good idea. Third Thoughts stand outside the head and study it all, and probably argue with the first and second thoughts. Not everyone gets to have them, but I'm thinking that for a writer, Third Thoughts are the editor that can actually decide that the lovely passage I just wrote has got to go. Third Thoughts will tell me so, probably profanely.

2. Pratchett doesn't write kids books for kids. Some claim Tiffany Aching is for kids. After all, the protagonist is 9 in Wee Free Men, 11 in A Hat Full of Sky, and turned 13 halfway through Wintersmith. And she's even having some teenaged problems. Boy trouble. But no, this book isn't aimed at children, though teens could learn a lot from it. I can relate to this, too. The Ninja Librarian is about 1/2 a kids book, and I'm not kidding when I say it's for "10-year-olds of all ages."

3. Okay, I didn't see that ending coming. I should have, but I didn't. Is that me being dense, or is that the perfection of a great ending, that once you've read it, it seems inevitable, even though you couldn't have thought it up yourself in a month of Sundays?

4. I've looked and thought a lot lately about writing dialects and accents. Pratchett seems to pull it off marvelously, and he does it with vocabulary (though the Mac Nac Feegle need a little glossary for some of their vocabulary), not spelling. I will take lessons.

5. I want to grow up to be one of the Discworld witches. Somewhere between Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. Which leads me to....

6. I never knew anyone (well, maybe I do) who can jam as many improper ideas and implications into language that will pass any censor. You don't have to write a single 4-letter word to get the ideas across.

That's enough rambling for now. If you've never read any of Terry Pratchett's books, run right out and start. I'm not sure where you should start; most people agree that the first book (The Color of Magic) isn't his best, though it was good enough to capture me. My favorites might be the ones about the witches, like Equal Rites, but I'm awfully fond of the Watch, too. And the sorcerers are good for a laugh...


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