The 35th Discworld
novel and the third in the Tiffany Aching theme.
It's been two years since the previous Tiffany Aching book. Tiffany has moved on to study under a new witch - this time Miss Treason, who is ancient (she claims to be 113 years old) and creepy as heck. Miss Treason takes Tiffany to see the Dark Morris, a tradition to welcome the winter. Tiffany, unfortunately, feels compelled to step in and join the dance, attracting the attention of the titular Wintersmith, the embodiment of Winter itself, in the process.
This is the only Discworld novel to have its own soundtrack, produced by English folk band Steeleye Span
Preceded by Thud!
, followed by Making Money
. Preceded in the Tiffany Aching series by A Hat Full of Sky
, followed by I Shall Wear Midnight
- Alpha Bitch: Annagramma, though Tiffany is actually quite a bit well more liked and respected. However, she's not all bad such as when she instantly launches a fireball at the Wintersmith when she thinks he's attacking Tiffany.
- Ambiguous Gender: One of the snowman-building kids is so heavily wrapped up in coats, scarf and bobble hat that it's anyone's guess if there's a girl or a boy underneath it all.
- Animate Inanimate Object: Horace the cheese.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Awfully Wee Billy's description of the kelda's dreams:
"She saw a green tree growing in a land o' ice! She saw a ring o' iron! She saw a man with a nail in his heart! She saw a plague o' chickens and a cheese that walks like a man!"
- Partially subverted in that the cheese is Horace the cheese and is essentially a Feegle although one made from cheese (which savages other cheeses and growls...)
- Badass Bookworm: Tiffany and Roland.
- Batman Gambit: Granny manipulates the situation so that Mrs Earwig gets her student into Miss Treason's steading. If it works out, fine; but if she's dreadful it will show how poor a teacher Mrs. Earwig is, requiring Tiffany's help for Annagramma to shape up, thus proving that Granny's witchcraft is superior.
- Blind Seer: Miss Treason.
- Call Back: The Feegles have to dress up as a human again, first seen in A Hat Full of Sky. Big Yan refuses to be a knee this time.
- Calling the Old Man Out: More Old Woman, but after leading a private campaign of defiance against his usurping, embezzling aunts for most of the book, Roland finally stops even pretending to be polite when they threaten to involve his sick father.
- The Cameo: Tolliver Groat and the goddess Anoia, from the contemporaneously-written Going Postal.
- The Chessmaster: Granny, by letting Mrs. Earwig's choice win the cottage but Granny's way of witchcraft win the war. Even better, she had set this up well before the story begins by ensuring that the only contender to the spot is Tiffany, the only young witch guaranteed to turn it down if offered since she already had her own territory.
- Clingy MacGuffin: Tiffany's horse necklace.
- Clown Car Base: Cornucopia.
- Continuity Nod: The Dark Morris, as Pterry mentioned in the author's note, first came up in Reaper Man, and is now an important plot point.
- Granny Weatherwax demonstrates the heat/pain-moving trick she was last seen using in CarpeJugulum.
- At the end of the book, Rob Anybody is seen reading "Where's My Cow?" to his children.
- Cool Old Lady: Nanny Ogg.
- Cuteness Proximity: Granny, of all people, albeit reluctantly, with You the kitten.
- Dan Browned: In-story example, when Tiffany reads a romance novel that purports to take place on a sheep farm, and is more concerned with the writer's wrong-headed belief that The Simple Life Is Simple.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Miss Treason.
- David Versus Goliath: You and Greebo.
- Dramatic Irony: The Wintersmith builds himself a human body based on an old rhyme about "the things that make up a man", but fails to understand that the last three parts, which he couldn't find because they aren't physical elements, are the most important:
Strength enough to build a home,
Time enough to hold a child,
Love enough to break a heart
- Eldritch Abomination: Roland has to fight these in the Underworld to fulfill his role as the Hero.
- Elemental Powers: The Wintersmith and the Summer Lady.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Well, surname, anyway: Roland de Chumsfanleigh "(pronounced Chuffley - it's not his fault)".
- Endless Winter: The eponymous Wintersmith creates an unnaturally long winter (although his opposite number, the Summer Lady, would have created an endless summer). Tiffany tries to balance nature again.
- Evil Uncle: Distaff Counterpart with Roland's aunts, who definitely qualify.
- Fallen Princess: Annagramma, partially.
- Faux Horrific: There are few things Feegles fear more than such feminine tricks as "the foldin' o' the arms an' the pursin' o' the lips an' the tappin' o' the feets!"
- Fertile Feet: Trope Namer.
- Geas: Rob Anybody is put under a Geas by his wife Jeannie to protect Tiffany Aching. It becomes a Running Gag that Daft Wullie keeps thinking Rob means an actual goose.
- Giving Up On Logic: When Daft Wullie claims that Horace the cheese told him his name, Rob Anybody just shrugs it off by saying "I wouldna argue with a cheese."
- Good Is Not Nice: Most witches, but especially Miss Treason and Granny.
- Grim Up North and The Savage South: Although the Discworld doesn't strictly have a concept of north and south, the corresponding tropes are invoked when we see the places where winter and summer never die.
- He Is Not My Boyfriend: People keep asking Tiffany questions about Roland that she'd rather not answer.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Tiffany's father nearly throws himself onto the bonfire when there's nothing else left to burn, as he's convinced Tiffany and Wentworth will both freeze to death if her frost-to-fire spell fails. Subverted by the other Chalk shepherds, who are Genre Savvy enough to grab him first.
- Hilarity Sues: The Feegles, though they're not just light relief, either...
- How We Got Here: The first scene of the story takes place at what is basically thirty pages from the end of the book. However, it's stated that this is more sort of like something that could happen rather than something that absolutely definitely will. It doesn't turn out quite like it, but it mostly does.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Wintersmith becomes more human over time, but it's not really supposed to. Note the 'it.' Thus, it never quite makes it.
- Invisibility: There's a trick witches can pull on others where they drastically tone down their presence and become unnoticeable. They're still there, and you can still see them, but you tend to be absolutely sure they're not and completely overlook them. Tiffany learns it by observing Granny Weatherwax and some of the younger witches are jealous about it.
- It Was a Gift
- Keep the Reward: Played with. After Tiffany and Anagramma spend the night watching over a corpse in a farmhouse, Anagramma instinctively refuses breakfast. Tiffany tells her that it's important for the family to give them something in return and that refusing it would be an insult. When Summer offers Tiffany a reward for stopping the Wintersmith's rampage, Tiffany does refuse, since she was cleaning up her own mistake (and also as an insult).
- Light Is Not Good: The Summer Lady.
- In particular her disturbingly inhuman eyes (remember the Discworld rule that no supernatural being can hide the nature of its eyes) are explained as being those of snakes, because the place where summer never dies is in the heart of snake-infested deserts.
- Mayfly-December Romance: Tiffany and the Wintersmith.
- Monster Shaped Mountain: Girl-shaped icebergs, rather.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Rob Anybody spelling "marmalade". Not very well, but Granny Weatherwax admits it was "a heroic effort".
- Must Make Amends: Granny Weatherwax invokes this trope by name, telling Tiffany that she has to deal with the mess she caused.
- My Girl Back Home: Roland is a rare male example.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Tiffany is repeatedly reminded that this entire trouble was caused her feet wanting to dance and not thinking first.
- Not So Different: Annagramma snubs Tiffany and her own steading constantly, but when she looks down on some shepherds and notes that Tiffany is the daughter of one herself, Tiffany has finally had enough. She figures out through the observation skills that Annagramma doesn't use that not only is Annagramma's father not a major land owner, he's not even a farmer. He just works for one. Annagramma is a nobody just like her.
- Orphean Rescue: Invoked almost by name.
- Pride: Annagramma's biggest failing. Beneath the rather large amount of arrogance/snobbery she's more lost than anything.
- Punny Name: Annagramma, whose ideas of what a witch is supposed to be and do are (initially) completely mixed-up.
- Rejected Apology: Tiffany insists that she's really very sorry about interfering with the dance, but Granny tells her that an apology won't cut it, she's got to put it right.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Miss Tick.
- Shout-Out: When the Wintersmith possesses a snowman to interrogate to some kids about the rhyme in Ankh-Morpork, one of them asks if he's going to take them flying. Unsurprisingly, no.
- Mrs. Treason's use of two ravens as her eyes and ears is a clear reference to Odin.
- They re also a continuity nod: Discworld's Odin/Zeus analogue Blind Io kept two ravens for a while, but there was an unfortunate incident with one of Io's floating eye balls and he got rid of them. The Folklore Of Discworld tells us they are the same two birds as Miss Treason's pair.
- The traveling librarians, who get stranded in the freezing snow without even thinking of burning their wagonloads of books to keep warm, could be a reference to the keepers of the Vavilov Institute's seed bank, who rode out the famine during the WWII Siege of Leningrad while guarding a storehouse of precious (and edible) seeds. Knowing their country would need every last seed to restore agricultural productivity after the war's end, nine of these dedicated Soviet botanists died of starvation rather than consume or abandon their irreplaceable specimens.
- Stalker with a Crush: The Wintersmith.
- The Talk : Delivered by Nanny Ogg. Sort of. Tiffany keeps on expecting it, and eventually bluntly tells Nanny Ogg that having grown up on a farm with a bunch of older sisters she knows about sex already. It turns out Nanny Ogg knows that, and gives her a talk on relationships instead.
- Took a Level in Badass: Roland learns pretty fast once he finds out he's the Designated Hero. And figures out that his imaginary sword can hurt the creatures of the underworld.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Death really dislikes the Nac Mac Feegle. The Ferryman hates them even more.
OH NO, NOT YOU PEOPLE AGAIN.
- Translator Microbes: The remains of Dr. Bustle in Tiffany's head translate any language for her.
- Tsundere: Nanny Ogg suggests that Tiffany be this to the wintersmith to keep him friendly, but not make any promises.
- Unwitting Pawn: Annagramma and Mrs. Earwig, and - to her serious annoyance - Tiffany.
- What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?
- Will They or Won't They?: Tiffany and Roland.
- Woman in White: You is a small, white kitten. Who, upon meeting him, makes it so Greebo will never even think of bothering her.
- The Worf Effect: Greebo of all things suffers it.
- World of Silence: Tiffany receives visions of the Wintersmith's version of this ( and the Summer Lady's), seeing what happens when there is no balance to nature.