Mark Reads ‘Wintersmith’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of Wintersmith, Tiffany starts to head home. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of depression and seasonal affective disorder

Oh, I’m so happy that Roland is now going to play an integral part of the end of this book, and I hope we get a POV section from him in the Underworld. The Underworld! In order to set the story back straight, An Hero must head to the Underworld, afraid and terrified and doubting themself, and fetch the Summer Lady back so she can rejoin the world. Granny’s belief that the Story rules all plays into this, but I understand why this has to happen. Tiffany derailed the Story when she stepped into the dance, and now, the pieces have to align again in just the right way. 

And that means there must be a Hero. That’s a story we all recognize, isn’t it? And while Pratchett has long played with tropes, I do enjoy how this meta-commentary has now found a place in the Discworld series with the concept of narrativium. The story has a weight and a drive, and Granny is just trying to push things back on track. She does so initially by making a point to the Feegles about why they can’t be the heroes, and it involves the spelling of the world “marmalade.” Basically: they’re not afraid enough! They may be hesitant to read, but even that is something they’d still face down. Reluctantly, but they wouldn’t be afraid. The Feegles have no shame whatsover, so it’s not like going into the Underworld is actually a big problem. 

So, what’s the next step, then? Get Roland out of his home, I’m guessing, and away from his aunts. But how much will they prepare him for the journey into the Underworld? What monsters will he face on The Path That Goes Down???

Meanwhile, Tiffany makes her way home. One thing I find interesting about her experience in this book is that she seems far more affected by events than usual. Look, Tiffany has been through some weird shit, and much of it was also INCREDIBLY INTENSE. She’s been afraid; she’s doubted herself; she’s made mistakes. This doesn’t feel like that at all, and I’m only now grappling with how much her role in the story is changing her, too. Obviously, she’s still Tiffany, but there are physical aspects to the Wintersmith’s presence and her transformation that are undeniable. In particularly, the sluggishness is hard to ignore. She even thinks about how hard it is for her to “fight” the Wintersmith, especially when she sees him. That doesn’t sound like Tiffany, does it? Tiffany has faced down the Queen before! How is the Wintersmith worse?

Well, it doesn’t help that winter is sinking down into her bones! I don’t know if this is Pratchett’s intent, but one thing I’ve finally experienced now that I live in a city that has winter is that seasonal affective disorder IS THE FUCKING WORST. I truly did not understand how much my body craves the sun, y’all. Last winter was far worse than this one; I think it’s only snowed two or three times in New York, and I missed all of them but one. Plus, it’s not sticking around; it has melted quickly this year. That being said, while I deal with depression all year round, I discovered that without regular exposure to sunlight and heat, my body and brain WILL NOT HAVE IT. So, intent or not, the text reads like a version of that. Tiffany is sluggish, she’s oversleeping, it’s hard for her to make decisions, and she has no energy to fight off the Wintersmith. I RELATE TO THIS WAY TOO MUCH. 

So how does she become the version of Tiffany that we saw in the first chapter? What changes? My guess is that this is the clam before the storm, that she’ll shortly figure out how to be the Summer Lady. It’s the only way, right? Granny said she had to see this through to the end. Ah, and there’s not that much left in this book either!!!

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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