Wintersmith is the title of the third Tiffany Aching novel in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, published on the 21 September 2006. It is the 35th novel in the Discworld series. It is also the title of a 2013 album by Terry Pratchett's favorite musical group, Steeleye Span which was inspired by his Tiffany Aching novels and which contains an introduction booklet by Pratchett. The title 'Wintersmith' means the 'smith or creator of winter'. In earlier times the black smith was a key figure in village life, the creator of everything from swords to plough shares. In effect the Wintersmith forges winter out of the autumn. The novel is aimed at a younger audience so Pratchett tends to over explain his jokes, references and puns (likely to the annoyance of adult readers).
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
Two years after the events of A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany Aching, now 13 years old, is training with the witch Miss Treason. But when Miss Treason takes Tiffany to witness the secret dark Morris - the Morris dance (performed wearing black clothes and octiron bells) that welcomes in the winter, Tiffany finds herself drawn into the dance and joins in. She finds herself face to face with the Wintersmith - winter himself - who mistakes her for the Summer Lady and falls in love with her.
Unknowingly, Tiffany drops her silver horse pendant (a gift from Roland, the Baron's son) during the Dance. The Wintersmith uses the pendant to find Tiffany and give her back the pendant during their second encounter. From then on, he uses the pendant to find her and deliver his gifts (delicate roses made of ice, her name written in frost on every window, Tiffany-shaped snowflakes, and icebergs in her shape). The elder witches, including Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, discover that the Wintersmith has been tracking her. Granny Weatherwax demands that she throw her silver horse pendant into Lancre Gorge.
Things get trickier for Tiffany when she discovers she has some of the Summer Lady's powers - plants start to grow where she walks barefooted, and the Cornucopia (Horn of Plenty) appears, causing problems by spurting out food and animals.
Before the problem with Tiffany and the Wintersmith is resolved, Miss Treason dies (she was 111, but claimed to be 113 because she felt that 111 sounded adolescent). The young witch Annagramma acquires Miss Treason's cottage, but she needs help from Tiffany and the other young witches before she can learn to cope on her own. Tiffany goes to live with Nanny Ogg.
The Wintersmith decides that the reason Tiffany will not be his is that he is not human. Learning a simple rhyme from some children about what basic elements comprise a human body, he sets off to gather the correct ingredients. He makes himself a body out of these elements and pursues Tiffany, but without truly understanding that the last three lines of the poem are the key to being a human and not just a mixing of stray components. The lines are:
Strength enough to build a home
Time enough to hold a child
Love enough to break a heart.
Granny Weatherwax instructs the Nac Mac Feegles, who watch Tiffany closely to protect their "big wee hag," to find a Hero, namely her childhood acquaintance and incipient love interest, Roland. Roland must descend into the underworld, guided by the Nac Mac Feegles, and awaken the real Lady Summer from her storybook slumber. But first the Feegles must teach Roland how to really use a sword since his expertise in swordsmanship is entirely from reading a book. The teach him how to attach a moving target (themselves inside a suit of armor)
Meanwhile, the Wintersmith continues to cover the land with Tiffany-shaped snowflakes. The harsh, prolonged winter starts burying houses, blocking roads, and killing off the sheep of the Chalk. Hiding inside her father's house, Tiffany is surprised to find her silver pendant inside a fish that her brother, Wentworth, has caught. This allows the Wintersmith to discover her whereabouts. Without the understanding of the essence of humanity, he draws Tiffany to a winter palace he has constructed for her where he crowns her as his queen. However, with the awakening powers she is steadily learning, she allowed herself to be the pivot that never moves in the see-saw and draws down the sun and pushes out its warmth into the Wintersmith, defeating him by melting him with a kiss. This fulfills the Dance of the Seasons in which Summer and Winter die and are reborn in turn, thus allowing summer to return. Since these events, winters on the Chalk have evidently returned to normal.
Popular References:[edit | edit source]
Tiffany's father calls her 'jiggit' which is what her granny Sarah Aching had called her. Tiffany was her 20th grandchild and 'jiggit' means 'twenty' in the 'Yan, tan, tethera' counting system of northern England and Scotland.
Pratchett says in reference to witches going to the dark and starting to cackle, "At the end of that road were poisoned spinning wheels and gingerbread houses. This is an obvious reference to the witches/fairies in the old fairy tales popularized by the Brothers Grimm; Sleeping Beauty (first recorded by Charles Perrault) and Hansel and Gretel.
The 'dancing about without your drawers on' that Tiffany mentions is a reference to ritual nudity known as being "skyclad". It is actually not an ancient part of 'witchcraft' but in fact stems from the 1890s and is the kind of neo-paganistic approach to witchcraft that is popular today. Pratchett used a similar reference in Wyrd Sisters when Magrat wonders about the stories of witches dancing in shifts (nightgowns) and wonders if it was too crowded for them to dance all at once (shifts as work rotations).
The scene in the woods where the male dancers are performing the 'dark Morris' for the Wintersmith resonates with the mythopoetic men's movement popularized (particularly in the USA) in the 1990s by the poet Robert Bly in his book entitled "Iron John: A Book About Men". The term was coined by professor Shepherd Bliss in preference to the term "New Age men's movement" for the kind of events where men get in touch with their inner selves in a male only setting, sweat lodges, chanting and 'drumming in the woods' being typical activities. The 'dark Morris' is first mentioned in Reaper Man.
By telling the reader that the seventh dancer is the Fool, Pratchett is foreshadowing what the result of Tiffany joining the group will be; the world turned upside down, the reversal of the seasons, all caused by Tiffany's 'foolish' actions.
The Witchfinder, Miss Tick's name gives an obvious clue to her profession (Miss Tick - Mystic). Her first name is the Italian word for 'perspicacity' which means 'the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness.' - appropriate given that she needs insight to identify potential witches.
Miss Tick is the author of "Magavenation Obitsis" Witch-hunting for Dummies (a play on the popular 'For Dummies' series of books which began with 'Dos for Dummies' in 1991) which she deposits in various non-witch-friendly villages. The book includes such useful advice as that you should drown rather than burn a witch, you should ensure that the witch has silver coins in her boots, and is given a nice meal of soup and tea before her ducking. Not surprisingly, she includes a 'chant' in her book, "ITI SAPIT EYI MA NASS" which is the kind of word play Pratchett uses over and over in his novels; in this case the words spell "It is a pity I'm an ass" - appropriate words for anyone who follows the book's advice to chant about themselves.
Her book also recommends that the witch be tied with a #1 Bosun's knot. The bosun on a ship is the key person in charge of the ordinary seamen below the rank of officer. The #1 most important knot in a bosun or any seaman's knot repertoire is the bowline and some people refer to it as a bosun's knot (not seamen though). It would be an ideal knot for a landlubber to tie up a witch if she wanted to escape since it is not used for binding two pieces of wood or arms and legs together but is used for such things as securing a ship to a dock and is usually tied incorrectly by beginners.
Pratchett says, "A witch was just someone who knew a bit more than you did. That's what the name meant." In fact the origins of the word 'witch' are obscure. Most etymologists believe both 'witch' and 'wizard' came from the Old English 'wicca' but all agree the words' further origins in Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European (PIE) are unclear. The eminent British philologist Walter William Skeat (author of An Etymological Dictionary of the English Language) derived the word from PIE *weid-, Old English wita "wise man, wizard" and witan "to know", considering it a corruption of an earlier *witga. No Old English spelling with -t- is known, and this etymology is not accepted today. However, evidence from the Slavic language group suggests that it may be worth revisiting this line of thought: for example if you compare Polish wiedźma (witch) / wiedzieć (to know), the parts of these words highlighted in bold are pronounced the same i.e., roughly vee-edge. The aural similarity to “witch” is striking. Similarly, if the word derived etymologically directly from an Indo-Germanic precursor concept having to do with knowing and/or seeing (e.g., wissen, weise [German], weten [Dutch], videre [Latin], wise, wit [English], wiedzieć, widzieć [Polish] etc.) the advantages of this argument is: (i) that it works for both “witch” and “wizard”, both of each would mean “the knower or the seer” and (ii) that there is no need to attempt to derive the “s/t” sound from the “g/k” sound in “wicca” and its precursors.
Her disguise of 'a humble apple seller' is a reference to the fairy tale, Snow White - in which the witch/evil stepmother Queen disguises herself as an apple seller to given Snow White the poisoned apple.
The shambles Miss Tick makes has its basis in the child's game 'cats cradle' which Pratchett makes very clear in case anyone has missed the obvious (it is a younger reader's book after all). It is a universal game; different cultures have different names for the game, and often different names for the individual figures. The French word for manger is crèche, and cattle feed racks are still known as cratches. In Russia the whole game is called simply, the game of string, and the diamonds pattern is called carpet, with other pattern names such as field, fish, and sawhorse for the other figures—a cat isn't mentioned. The game may have originated in China where the game is called fan sheng (English: well rope), or catch cradle. In some regions of the U.S., this game also is known as Jack in the Pulpit. There is no magical aspect to a Roundworld 'shambles'. The word simply means a 'mess' but it originally was an 'open air slaughterhouse and meat market'. There is still an old area in York known by that name.
The Gonnagle is the Nac Mac Feegle's bard. His title is a reference to William Topaz McGonagall, Scotland's Worst Poet (some consider him to be the world's worst poet).
As anyone with any Scottish heritage knows, the haggis is not a wild animal but is, as Miss Treason retorts to Rob Anybody, "a pudding of sheep's offal and meat". However, the notion of the wild mountain haggis is widely believed and promoted for tourism. According to a 2003 online survey commissioned by haggis manufacturers Hall's of Broxburn, one-third of U.S. visitors to Scotland believed the wild haggis to be a real creature.
Pratchett says that Tiffany was "aching all over". It is amazing given Pratcett's love of puns that he waited this long before inserting this joke into the novel. He uses this line again just before Tiffany returns to her home in the Chalk.
Chaffinch's Ancient and Classical Mythology is a play on the Roundworld reference book, Bullfinch's Mythology (Chaffinch and Bullfinch both being birds).
Tiffany's letter from Roland is S.W.A.L.K. or Sealed with a loving kiss.
Miss Treason says to Tiffany, "I didn't where I am today by wearing a woolly bobble hat and a ginham apron". This is a reference to the TV series and books by David Nobbs, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" where the character CJ is always saying "I didn't get where I am today by....." This is a regular reference in Pratchett's Discworld series (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and A Hat Full of Sky to name only two of many).
The line, "There was a story in the villages that the clock was Miss Treason's heart" is a reference to the many stories of witches and wizards putting their life essence somewhere else by magic (most well known is Voldemort in the Harry Potter series making horcruxes and splitting his soul). Given Pratchett's frequent references to The Wizard of Oz, it is also likely a reference to the Wizard of Oz giving the Tin Woodsman a clock for a heart.
Miss Treason weaves the villagers' names into her cloth as she listens to their complaints. Miss Treason is blind, just like the traditional images of Justice with her scale but Pratchett is also tying in the image of the Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, who are usually depicted weaving at the loom. Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured its length and Atropos cut it off so it is not surprising that "The loom worried them (the villagers)." Miss Treason's first name is Eumenides which is the proper name for the Furies - appropriate for a witch who is a dispenser of justice.
Since this is a young adult book, Pratchett tends to explain his puns and word plays in detail for his younger audience. Therefore the 'skulls' not being kept in the 'scullery' gets a full explanation and footnote as does the world 'scruple' for a unit of weight and 'unscrupulous'. As Pratchett says, a scruple is equal to 20 grains. In ancient times, when coinage weights customarily furnished the lower subdivisions of weight systems, the scruple (from Latin scrupulus, “small stone” or “pebble”) was a unit of Roman commercial weight as well as a unit of coinage weight. 'Unscrupulous' meaning 'having no principles or ethics' comes from the same Latin root.
"The candle holders were two skulls. One had ENOCHI carved on it, the other had the word ATHOOTITA. The words meant GUILT and INNOCENCE." This is appropriate for Miss Treason who is the dispenser of Justice. In fact, 'ενοχή' (Enochi in Arabic letters) does mean Guilt in Greek and 'αθωότητα" (athootita in Arabic letters) means innocence.
Miss Treason mentions the stories that surround her, most of which she has made up, 'And the one about me having a cow's tail?' likely comes from a Norwegian forest denizen, seductress called a huldra, who has a cow's tail.
Pratchett says, "There was silence except for the creak of a small tree as it fell over." Clearly, if a tree falls in the forest it does make a sound. Pratchett references various philosophic thought experiments throughout his works.
"Say it with snowflakes," said Big Yan - a reference to the advertising slogan "Say it with flowers" both lines an attempt to capture the heart of the intended romantic interest. The original slogan was created in 1917 by the Florists’ Telegraph Delivery group (FTD).
"No one noticed anything strange (all the snowflakes being shaped like Tiffany), except witches who don't take people's word for things, and a lot of kids who no one listened to.' This is another example of Pratchett challenging what is real and what is fiction. The general public through the ages has usually accept what they have been told as fact by so called experts and poo pooing solid evidence to the contrary - the round world, the earth not being the centre of the universe, continental drift, evolution, to name a few. The theory that no two snowflakes are alike was based on research using photography by Wilson A Bentley in 1925 when he photographed over 5000 snowflakes and found the crystal structure was different on each. However, billions of snowflakes have fallen so no one can realistically prove this conclusively- they melt to quickly when observed and one simply cannot observe them all to determine if this is a fact or fancy. The fact that it is witches and children who dispute the theory is no surprise since witches are the wise women and children throughout literature are notoriously more observant than adults who often seek only to conform. The fairy tale, The Emperor's new Clothes is a case in point.
The Roundworld collective noun for a group of witches, 'coven' didn't become popular until about 1920.
"Inside-out cake" is in the same vein as an upside-down cake.
Annagramma says, "Everyone around there is literally frightened out of their lives." Clearly Annagramma has not heeded the advice Tiffany gave her at the end of A Hat Full of Sky to "please learn what literally really means". As an author and someone who has an encyclopedic understanding of words and language, Pratchett is clearly firing a shot at all those vacuous readers out there who throw 'literally' into ever sentence in the completely wrong context.
Granny Weatherwax says to Miss Tick "the hills that were once alive". Pratchett has alluded to The Sound of Music in other novels. This one is the obvious 'the hills are alive with the sound of music'.
Tiffany says, "I don't want to wear midnight and have people afraid of me". This is a flashback to the previous book A Hat Full of Sky, where Tiffany says at the end, "When I'm old I shall wear midnight." This line is a paraphrase of the opening line of Jenny Joseph's 1961 poem Warning: "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple". In a poll by the BBC it was voted Britain's most popular poem. It also forms the title of a later book in the series.
One of the few jokes in the book that Pratchett does not explain is the exchange between Tiffany and Miss Treason when the old witch is dying. Miss Treason tells her to "pay attention to your young man....but do not become a strumpet." to which Tiffany replies, "I'm not very musical." Tiffany is mixing a trumpet up with a person of easy morals.
Miss Treason says about her villagers, "They'll be relieved to hear the witch is dead." This is another Wizard of Oz reference - 'Ding dong, the witch is dead', the song celebrating the death of the Wicked Witch of the East when Dorothy's house drops on her.
Djelibeybi (the land and its kings) is another Pratchett play on words - spoken aloud it is pronounced 'Jelly baby' - the sweet sugar candies which originated in Lancashire, Britain. He uses this gag regularly.
Death tells Miss Treason that there is no relish in the underworld but 'there's jam'. Pratchett uses the line throughout the Discworld series. The saying originated in Lewis Carrol's book Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There where the White Queen says "The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day." - the idea being that it is all an unfulfilled promise and since tomorrow never comes you aren't going to get the reward anyway. The Oyster Band uses this theme in their song Jam Tomorrow from the album The Shouting End of Life when they say "It's jam tomorrow, shit today".
The Ninth Day Wonderers are a take off on the Church of the Seventh Day Adventists and the See of Little Faith are a take off on the line from Luke 12:27 and 28 in the Bible which begins "consider the lilies of the field and ends with "Oh ye of little faith". A see is an area of jurisdiction within the Catholic church.
Nanny Ogg tells Tiffany that she has a bad case of 'Ped Fecundis" or 'fertile feet' when the floorboards start to grow. "Ped Fecundis' translates from Latin as 'fertilizing feet".
The romantic novel that the Feegles bring Tiffany, "Passion's Plaything" by Marjorie J. Boddice is clearly based on the kind of "bodice rippers" churned out by Harlequin Romance.
The heroine of Passion's Plaything goes gathering nuts in June which Tiffany explains is impossible because there are none at that time of year. The old children's poem and game "Here we go gathering nuts in May" is likely what Pratchett is playing with here. Both the Discworld book and the poem reference are wrong as nuts are gathered in the Fall in Lancre and England. The words in the poem are likely a corruption of 'knots of may' - the flowers of the hawthorn tree. Alternately they could be pignuts (a tuber) which are gathered when the plant flowered in May.
The poem the children recite to the Wintersmith when he questions them about becoming human goes as follows:
Iron enough to make a nail
Lime enough to paint a wall
Water enough to drown a dog
Sulphur enough to stop the fleas
Potash enough to wash a shirt
Gold enough to buy a bean
Silver enough to coat a pin
Lead enough to blast a bird
Phosphor enough to light the town
Strength enough to build a home
Time enough to hold a child
Love enough to break a heart
The key to the poem is that all of the items, save the final three, are small amounts of actual elements and compounds which anyone could obtain but the last 3 are human attributes, which an elemental like the Wintersmith could not.
Assistant Post Master Groat has his sulphurous socks blown clean off his equally smelly feet. Pratchett is playing with the expression a smell so strong it would "knock your socks off" in this scene. The expression has been used as the name for a foot deodorizing product. To 'knock your socks off' means to surprise somebody by showing or providing them with something really impressive. It originally came from the american south in reference to fighting, 'knock your block off' and was corrupted from there into the more general expression.
Tiffany is annoyed because Roland has danced with Iodine Divers and 'looked at her water colours'. On the surface this looks to be a completely innocent activity and the fact that Roland tells his 'girl friend' about it indicates that he naively believes it to be so. However Tiffany sees the other sexual side of the exchange. It is well known that various forms of dancing, from waltzes to tango have been seen through the ages as a form of sex with clothing but in addition Pratcett is playing with the common sexual innuendo of "do you want to come up to my room and see my etchings". The latter phrase was a veiled way of seducing a young woman who in earlier times would not have dared go to a young man's room unescorted. It originated with an exchange in an 1891 novel by Horatio Alger, Jr. called The Erie Train Boy. Alger was an immensely popular author in the 19th century—especially with young people—and his books were widely quoted.
The Goddess of Stuck Drawers, Anoia smokes a cigarette in, as Tiffany points out, a "food preparation area". Since most stuck drawers involving 'fish slices' are going to be in the kitchen a cigarette smoking goddess seems like a humorous oddity. However it is only in recent years that there has been a ban on smoking in a 'food preparation area' or even rules about any conduct in a 'food preparation area' at all. In fact the cartoon image of a French chef with a Galoise cigarette with long ash hanging out of his mouth while he stirs a pot on the stove is an iconic one.
Tiffany tells the Wintersmith that she doesn't "want to be a face that sinks a thousand ships". This is a reference to Helen of Troy who was responsible for the war between Sparta and Athens and was known as "the face that launched a thousand ships". This is also a recurring Pratchett line.
Pratchett's Discworld version of the myth of the cornucopia is not much more bizarre than the Roundworld ones: One of the best-known involves the infant Zeus, who had to be hidden from his devouring father Kronus. In a cave on Mount Ida on the island of Crete, baby Zeus was cared for and protected by a number of divine attendants, including the goat Amaltheia ("Nourishing Goddess"), who fed him with her milk. The suckling future king of the gods had unusual abilities and strength, and while playing with his nursemaid, accidentally broke off one of her horns which then had the divine power to provide unending nourishment, as the foster mother had to the god. In another myth, the cornucopia was created when Heracles (Roman Hercules) wrestled with the horned river god Achelous and wrenched off one of his horns. This version is represented in the Achelous and Hercules mural painting by the American Regionalist artist Thomas Hart Benton.
Nanny Ogg's address is "Tir Nani Ogg" which Granny says means "Nanny Ogg's Place" . In Irish mythology Tir na nog (literally "the place of youth") is the afterlife.
Nanny Ogg's comment regarding the cherubs put in the paintings to show "it's not just naughty pictures of ladies with not many clothes on", is a common comment in Pratchett's novels (Snuff for example); a reference to the question of when does nudity become art and not pornography or simply naked bodies.
The words that the cornucopia responds to are mock Greek. They use the Greek alphabet but do not actually say what the translation says they say. It is like some of Pratchett's mock Latin (however in the latter case it is usually just tense shifts or an English type pun thrown in).
Nanny Ogg talks about the cornucopia being like "manners from heaven", to which Granny Weatherwas replies."You don't get manners from heaven." The real expression is "mana from heaven". The origin of the word mana or manna is obscure. Some argue that it comes from the Egyptian 'mennu' meaning basic food or sustenance. Some interpret it to mean 'bread', some believe it was a lichen, some say it comes from man-es- simma, which translates from Arabic as 'heavenly manna.
Annagramma and the Summer Lady exhibit many of the same petty characteristics, both being spiteful and jealous of others. Annagramma refers to Petulia derisively as the 'pig witch' and the Summer Lady calls Tiffany 'sheep girl'.
The composer of The Overture to Uberwald Winter is Wotua Doinov is a pun on "wot you a doin' (what are you doing). The composition itself is likely drawn from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 in G minor, Winter Daydreams (or Winter Dreams),
In contrast to the Greek/Ephebian earlier in the novel, the line when the Wintersmith thinks he has become human is in fact Russian and translates as "It's got cold(er) again" or the cold has returned".
The symbol of the spoon, the witch's hat and the tick mark obviously mean witches will be fed here and is signed by Miss Tick. This code for witches is similar to the hobo's code used in the early 1900s in the USA where hobos riding the rails relied on codes from each other to find food, shelter etc.
Roland and the Nac Mac Feegles' journey into the underworld to rescue the Summer Lady draws from the tale of Orpheus and Eurydice and, in case anyone missed it (it is a younger audience) Pratchett states this outright when Roland replies to Rob Anybody, "Oh you mean like Orpheo rescuing Euniphon from the Underworld?" In the myth, Orpheus was permitted to enter the Underworld to retrieve his love provided he did not look back to see if she was still following him as they escaped. Naturally he looks back and she is forced to return to the Underworld but as a concession she is allowed to divide her time between Earth and the Underworld - the story of summer returning each year. Orpheus is variously spelled 'Orfeo" and "Orpheo" depending on the language.
When Wentworth catches the fish (not surprisingly like all fisherman the size of the fish grows exponentially as the tale of the capture is retold), Tiffany's pendant is recovered from the stomach. This story resonates with many in literature and even the real world. "The Fish and the Ring" is an English fairy tale collected by Joseph Jacobs in English Fairy Tales which tells the tale of a poor peasant girl who marries the king's son after she retrieves a ring from a fish. Similarly in the Greek legend, Polycrates, the ruler of Samos, dropped a jewel-encrusted ring into the sea in order to escape a reversal of fortune. However, a fisherman caught a large fish that he wished to share with the tyrant. While Polycrates' cooks were preparing the fish for eating, they discovered the ring inside of it. There is also a fish and ring story in one of the miracles of St. Mungo, the Glasgow Patron Saint. In the story, Queen Languoreth of Strathclyde was suspected of infidelity by her husband. King Riderch demanded to see her ring, which he claimed she had given to her lover. In reality the King had thrown it into the River Clyde. Faced with execution she appealed for help to Mungo, who ordered a messenger to catch a fish in the river. On opening the fish, the ring was miraculously found inside, which allowed the Queen to clear her name. There is an almost identical story concerning King Maelgwn of Gwynedd and Saint Asaph. Pratchett has used this kind of reference before in Wyrd Sisters where Granny is asked rhetorically "How many times have you thrown a magic ring into the deepest depths of the ocean and then, when you get home and have a nice bit of turbot for your tea, there it is?" To which Granny replies, "Never, And nor have you."
The scenes leading up to and including the Wintersmith's palace resonate with the White Witch in the CS Lewis story The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe who keeps Narnia perpetually in winter. Tiffany breaking the Wintersmith's control has strong links to the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, The Snow Queen in which Gerda breaks the Snow Queen's control on Kai and restores him through a kiss and her love.
The reference to a horse with curtains around it is from the knights' of old. Their horses wore drapings of heavy fabric and armour to protect them from enemy knights.
"Like mebbe dead when they shouldn't be an' there's nae place for 'em tae go ... This one used tae be called Limbo, ye ken, cuz the door was verrae low." In case any of the younger readers misses it, this line and play on words is explained fully by Pratchett. It is a reference to the place called "Limbo" where in Catholic theology people who were basically good (unbaptized babies and those good people who died before the coming of Christianity), but didn't have the chance to become Christians end up. The name has come to mean a state of uncertainty while awaiting a decision. It has nothing to do with limbo-dancing.
The image of the bogles in the underworld stealing the old lady's memories is a poignant one because of its resemblance to Alzheimer's disease - which Pratchett suffered from and ultimately ended his life. Roland expands on this when he says of the Queen of Fairies, "She had pets that feed you dreams until you die of hunger. I hate things that try to take away what you are. I want to kill those things, Mr. Anybody. I want to kill all of them. When you kill memories, you take away the person. Everything they are."
"Just before it hit the water a white arm reached out and caught it." This is a clear reference to the Lady of the Lake, when Sir Bedivere threw Excalibur back when into the water when King Arthur was dying.
"Row row row your boat" is traditionally sung as a round so it is not surprising that the Scottish-like Feegles throw in a line from the Skye Boat Song.
'One verrae big dog wi' three heads.' is clearly Cerberus, the three headed dog that guards the underworld. The reader met him before in Eric.
The image of the Summer Lady lying on a slab is an iconic one reminiscent of the way nobles are depicted lying on their tombs and carved out of marble. But as well it brings to mind, Sleeping Beauty waiting to be awoken by a kiss.
The magic kiss is a long standing tradition in fairy tales and mythology and is used twice in the novel. The Summer Lady is awoken from her eternal slumber with a kiss from the handsome prince/hero like Sleeping Beauty. The Wintersmith is melted by a kiss from his love, Tiffany. Pratchett plays with this idea in earlier Tiffany Aching novels with the toad lawyer who is stuck as a toad because no one will kiss him to break the spell because princesses think that frogs are princes under a spell, not toads.
'Ach, we warsnae doon here more'n two hour an' bang went saxpence!' this line reflects the alleged stinginess of the Scots. It comes from a Punch cartoon in which a Scotsman complains about the expense of London. "Mun, a had na' been the-erre abune Twa Hoours when- Bang went Saxpence!!!"
"One day return, one single" - The reference is to train and subway tickets. Roland is going round trip on the ferry and the Summer Lady is taking a one way trip out of the underworld.
Rob Anybody says, "don't look back until we're well oot o' here. It's kind of traditional". This is another reference to Orpheus and Eurydice's escape from the underworld. It also resonates with the Bible and Lot's wife being turned into a pillar of salt as well as in many other cultures.
"A doll, maybe, made out of lots of twigs bound together". In folk magic and witchcraft, a poppet (also known as poppit, moppet, mommet and pippy) is a doll made to represent a person, for casting spells on that person or to aid that person through magic. They are occasionally found lodged in chimneys. These dolls may be fashioned from such materials as a carved root, grain or corn shafts, a fruit, paper, wax, a potato, clay, branches, or cloth stuffed with herbs with the intent that any actions performed upon the effigy will be transferred to the subject based on sympathetic magic. It was from these European dolls that the myth of voodoo dolls arose. Poppets are also used as kitchen witch figures.
"Where's ma coo?", reads Rob Anybody at the end of the novel. This is a reference to the book that Sam Vimes reads to young Sam and which Pratchett turned into a real children's book Where's my Cow?
References[edit | edit source]
- Terry Pratchett, Wintersmith, Doubleday (2006) ISBN 978-0385609845