Life. Death. Winter. Summer. Boffo.
'Wintersmith' is the third installment of Terry Pratchett's series of books that feature the life and times of Tiffany Aching, a thirteen year old witch from the rolling hills of The Chalk, an area on Discworld where rolling hills, grass and sheep seem to be main landscape features.
After she learned the first lessons in witching and headology from Miss Level, the owner of one body and two spirits (and a poltergeist with OCD), she is now working for 113 year old Miss Treason, a cantankerous (but ultimately good natured) crone that scares the bejeebus out of its villagers with her extensive use of boffo (which is just another subspeciality of headology, come to think of it). Miss Treason makes her join in the annual Dark Morris, a secret Morris Dance that welcomes the arrival of winter. Drawn into the dance, she happens to take the place of summer, and when the Wintersmith, the personified incarnation of winter, sees her, he falls madly in love with her.
Chaos ensues: Snowflakes become suddenly very personal, the icecrystals on the windows form a familiar name, and Tiffany finds herself suddenly in the possession of the horn of plenty, shooting fruits and little cute animals. Can the combined efforts of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Miss Tick and the wee free men bring back summer?
Will Tiffany learn the ways of 'the tapping of foot, 'the folding of arms', 'the pursing of lips' and Boffo?
I have said it before, and I I will say it again: These days Pratchett does his best work writing stories about Tiffany. The wee free men, A Hat full of Sky and now Wintersmith are the best three novels Pratchett has written since the days of Feet of Clay. While the other Discworld franchises continue to plod on with diminishing reward, his books about this little woman from the back of nowhere bring out the best in him: a liberal feminist to the core with a strong humanist slant, these three novels represent some of the best writing in contemporary british literature, fantasy or not.
Terry Pratchett: Wintersmith. Doubleday 2006