© Terry Pratchett, cover art © Bill Mayer.
It was great fun revisiting the world of young witch-in-training Tiffany Aching and her attendant band of small blue Wee Free Men. The latter are not present as much in this one, and that’s too bad, as they are a delight whenever they do appear, but in this third book about Tiffany she’s dealing with romantic problems that they can’t help with as much as before. First, there’s the young man she rescued in the first book, the son of her local lord, who she corresponds with, next there’s a godlike entity called the Wintersmith, actually the spirit of winter, who also develops a “thing” for young Tiffany, creating all sorts of embarrassing and dangerous problems for everyone around her. And by around her I mean within hundreds of miles, when Wintersmith tries to impress the girl by making the fiercest winter ever. Then there are Tiffany’s witch tutor, Miss Treason, the head witch Granny Weatherwax, the witchfinder Miss Tick, and the other young apprentice witches, some friendly to Tiffany, some scornful. All are swept into the madness of her winter romance. In the end, only a perilous trip to Hades will help the young girl and her allies, a trip which creates the funniest of many funny scenes in the book, when the Wee Free Men, aboard Charon’s boat crossing the river Styx, begin to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”
Terry Pratchett can be very funny, but he’s also a masterful writer of real depth and fine characters. This series is excellent, great reading, and highly recommended.