Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 2, Part I

In the first half of the second chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany visits a familiar face, and the reader meets Miss Treason. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Oh no. Even knowing where this might end up—the future is wobbly, after all—I still don’t think I’m prepared for this. Y’all, MISS TREASON IS A TRIP. But before I get to her and the design for her character, let’s first talk about Granny Weatherwax and Tiffany, who, after the events of A Hat Full of Sky, have built a relationship that’s so fascinating to me. We don’t often get to see friendship of this sort between Granny and… well, literally anyone else. There’s some similarity to her longtime friendship with Nanny Ogg here, in the sense that Nanny knew how to push Granny’s buttons when she wanted to. Tiffany tests these boundaries, too, and I’d like to think it’s because of the unique sense of respect she earned from Granny during the last book. 

Still, that doesn’t mean she’s earned the right to skip over everything or to suddenly experience being a witch without all the difficult parts. To her credit, Granny Weatherwax makes this visit deeply, deeply uncomfortable and awkward because… well, because she can! Why wouldn’t she be like this? So, the conversation is jarring, it’s full of small talk, and then Tiffany just digs in just a little bit my mentioning Mrs. Earwig. Pratchett does a great job of providing exposition for these little moments, in case someone hasn’t read the past two Tiffany Aching books. We’re reminded of Mrs. Earwig’s style, how she prefers to have her name pronounced, the whole hiver business is referred to later, and we even find out there’s still a bit of Professor Bustle inside of Tiffany because of the hiver. I’m also gonna guess that Granny’s heat transfer trick that we see here is meant as the eventual explanation for how Tiffany will be able to “become” the fire to melt the Wintersmith’s snow. She finally figured out how to get her mind “right.” I… think??? That feels like an intentional thing! 

BUT LET’S ALSO TALK ABOUT THE KITTEN. Oh god, is Granny going to name it? I have a feeling she’ll claim it doesn’t have a name at all because she doesn’t “care” about the kitten, but then privately, she will TOTALLY have a name for it. Oh gods, I love this trope, where a character is EMOTIONLESS and HARD AS HELL and WILL NOT BE AFFECTED BY THE SAME THINGS OTHER HUMANS ARE. But then cute animal, and with time, they will soon FIGHT A WAR for said cute animal. 

That’s totally what’s happening, right? Right???

So, let’s move on to Miss Treason! I feel like we’ve gotten to know so many witches through the Tiffany Aching books, in part because she has to spend a great deal of time with them. As is custom, Tiffany stays with a witch, like she did with Miss Level in A Hat Full of Sky, so that she can learn from an expert in witchcraft. And I feel comfortable saying that we’ve never met anyone like Miss Eumenides Treason. We’re even warned that this is the case by the book:

All witches were a bit odd. Tiffany had got used to odd, so that odd seemed quite normal… But when it came to odd, Miss Treason didn’t just take the cake, but a packet of biscuits too, with sprinkles on the top, and also a candle.

It was this that we are introduced to Miss Treason, an older witch who is blind, deaf, and uses Borrowing in order to see and hear the world around her. Which really isn’t the oddness itself, or at least that wasn’t the sense I got from the text. No, it’s her many other behaviors and habits that are bizarre even for a series like this. But can we just talk about this fucking imagery???

Somebody in one of the local villages had made the old woman a perch that fitted across her shoulders, one bird on either side, and with her long white hair the effect was very, well, witchy, although a bit messy down the back of her cloak by the end of the day. 

Then there was her clock. It was heavy and made of rusty iron by someone who was more blacksmith than watchmaker, which was why it went clonk-clank instead of tick-tock. She wore it on her belt and could tell the time by feeling the stubby little hands. 

WHERE IS THE OFFICIAL ART FOR THIS. We’ve seen time and time again throughout the Discworld books how the image a person gives off can easily give them a certain power. It’s the pointy hat motif. Having one identifies a witch to other people. So what does this communicate to the outside world? Well, as we learn later, the people of the surrounding villages and town view Miss Treason as someone who can help solve their problems. It’s the whole “Justice is Blind” saying made literal. I’m interested in people’s take on this, though I’m aware how little information I have on Miss Treason right now. Right now, there’s a sense that Miss Treason is one to be feared, though having tons of cobwebs in your home but no spiders is not exactly helping things??? (WHAT IS THAT.) She’s definitely strange, but I also want to be aware of the way she’s treated in the narrative, given that she’s one of a handful of canonically disabled main characters we’ve gotten before. So, just something I’m going to be thinking about. 

And what’s this dance that’s so important to Miss Treason? Ugh, I know so little at this point!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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