Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 4, Part II

In the second half of the fourth chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany prepares for a funeral, only to discover that the Wintersmith has left her a gift. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Oh, no.

OH, NO.

So, it’s definitely surreal that Tiffany is actively helping to plan out Miss Treason’s funeral, which Miss Treason fully intends on attending. If even one of these people in the local villages attends this funeral, they’re going to be in for the biggest surprise of their life. Except maybe they won’t be surprised? Miss Treason is a witch, so they’d probably just explain it all away as just… magic? Right? She’s a witch! She can do things like show up at her own funeral!

Anyway, let’s talk about the meeting of the coven. So, my take on Tiffany’s embarrassment wasn’t what Pratchett was going for, and this scene helped shed light on the complicated things that Tiffany was feeling. She was indeed ashamed that people had possibly discovered what had happened, but then, something else occurs once no one brings up the Tiffany snowflakes: 

…but… well… it would have been nice if they’d known, if they’d said “Wow,” if they’d been jealous or frightened or impressed. And she couldn’t tell them, or at least she couldn’t tell Annagramma, who’d make a joke of it and almost but not exactly say that she was making it up. 

I feel like this also sheds light on her previous reactions to the Wintersmith. Tiffany felt flattered by the attention. And lord, that’s relatable. Deeply so! That doesn’t make the Wintersmith any less messed up, but I believe that Pratchett is trying to explore something that a lot of us went through at some point in our life. How do you deal with attention, and how do you determine when that attention is positive or negative? In this specific case, Tiffany has been told what a powerful being/entity the Wintersmith is, and somehow, out of everyone, it chose her to fixate on? Thus, two thoughts exist at the same time in Tiffany’s head: The Wintersmith is to be feared, and also, it’s kinda nice that he even noticed me. It’s hard to talk about this without also acknowledging that even if the Wintersmith isn’t a person, he’s still IMMENSELY old, and so there’s a terrible power balance at work. 

Which makes Petulia’s question so very, very important: Has the Wintersmith ever met a girl? The more I think about this, and the more I read this chapter again for this review, I’m convinced that he hasn’t. He has no experience with human girls at all, right? And thus, he becomes obsessed with Tiffany, the bold girl with the power of the hills in her, who dared to dance in a spot that was not hers. It fits, and it also scares me. Is that what was meant about the Wintersmith not taking no for an answer? Has the Wintersmith not only never met a girl, but he’s never been told no by a girl either??? I don’t actually know! The problem is that all I have to go off of are the stories of the Wintersmith, the tales passed along in books like the one Miss Treason had Tiffany read. (Ha, and this is a book about stories, soooooo…) 

I feel like this is a very credible theory, though? And the longer scene between Miss Tick and Granny Weatherwax is about all the confirmation that I need, particularly this bit from Granny: 

“What happened in that moment?” Granny Weatherwax went on, unstoppably. “Summer, Winter, and Tiffany. One spinning moment! And then they part. Who knows what got tangled? Suddenly, the Wintersmith is acting so stupid, he might even be a wee bit… human?”

So, what is Tiffany supposed to do with this? Granny says she “can’t change the steps” and that she’ll have to dance to the Wintersmith’s tune for a while. Until when? At what point can she defy the Wintersmith? And how is she going to do this if Granny’s nomination goes through? Because y’all: her own cottage? I admit that sounds super cool, and there’s a large part of me that wants that for Tiffany just because Annagramma would be upset over it. But the STRESS. Plus, would Tiffany ever dare to leave the Chalk? She’s their witch. Why would she be interested in living in this place? I’m not actually sure what’s going to happen here; I could see Pratchett writing either storyline. Maybe Tiffany will get the cottage because it’s good that she is challenged by life; maybe she’ll reject it because her role in the Chalk is too important for her. I GENUINELY DON’T KNOW. 

Even so, there are much more immediate concerns in this book, and they all have to do with the Wintersmith being really, really creepy. He made her roses! By killing Miss Treason’s bush with ICE. And how did he ask Tiffany about them? By using her mouth to ask her. There’s been a recurring motif in this book—first with Miss Treason, now with the Wintersmith—of other people using Tiffany’s body without her permission, and it makes this so uncomfortable??? Y’all, the Wintersmith is escalating his pursuit of Tiffany, and I get the sense that he has no understanding of boundaries or consent, so it’s just gonna get worse and worse. Isn’t it???

I did want to make a brief comment about how this chapter ends. I do like the idea of giving Petulia the cottage, though I’m not sure she’d be a good fit for this steading. The people who Miss Treason helped seemed to thrive off the stories that she spread about herself, and Petulia’s stark honesty doesn’t exactly vibe with that. Even without Miss Treason’s help, the stories about her—all those Boffos—have a life of their own. They twist and adapt and turn into new things, all of which grant Miss Treason an energy that makes her who she is to these people. And, as Petulia notes, her people are proud of her. They are very happy to have a witch so strange, so terrifying, and so very much their own. 

Who can fill shoes like that?

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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