Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I have just finished Wintersmith the new Terry Pratchett. For those who are unfamiliar with Pratchett's work, he is a moral philosopher who conceals his insights in whimsical tales set in a fantastic world where physical laws are suspended and replaced by heavy doses of narrativium, the base element of stories. The earth is flat (of course)and carried on the back of four elephants, themselves standing on the back of a giant turtle. The rainbow has eight colors, the eighth being the color of magic. It is world where horses provide the power for transport (apart from the broomsticks), where there are still Princesses and Barons in castles, where witches and wizards practise their very different kinds of magic, and where people are just like us.

Within this environment Pratchett pokes gentle fun at Australia, Hollywood, Islam, China, newspapers, universities, I.T., Christmas, policemen, aristocracy and anything else he can imagine. He has certain sets of characters. There are the academic wizards of the Unseen University, the local police force - a mixture of low cunning and sheer bravery and an outstanding example of racial tolerance (they let in werewolves and dwarfs; although the chief dwarf only thinks he's a dwarf, having been brought up by dwarfs; actually he is six foot four, muscle bound, clean shaven and in actual fact King), DEATH (who always speaks in CAPITAL LETTERS), and of course the witches.

Wintersmith is a tale of the witches and features old friends Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, but it is a rather different witches story. Pratchett also writes children's stories (you might be surprised that the Discworld series is meant for grown-ups). The last 2 children's stories have been The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. Both have featured the Nac Mac Feegles, two-inch high blue men with red hair kilts, and a Glasgow accent and a trainee child-witch, Tiffany Aching. Wintersmith is the sequel to these two, but written for rather older children (including adults). It is about teenage love. I suppose you could call it Chick-lit meets Discworld. It also lets you into the secret of Morris dancing.


Anonymous said...

Did you know that Chicken Little and Hen Len were characters in American
primary school books.

My wife who is Texan remembers those same characters from her primary school.

It always amazes me that back in 1932
we had the same school books in Scotland and Texas.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr. Hamblin,
A hint for Americans that want Wintersmith...
you guys can find it on Ebay coming from the UK.
Amazon has none.