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The Wee Free Men: A Story of Discworld Hardcover – April 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060012366
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060012366
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (301 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of faerie, and it’s up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it’s not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don’t use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that’s going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany’s also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink! Tiffany, heavily armed with an iron skillet, the feisty Feegles, and a talking toad on loan from Miss Tick, is a formidable adversary. But the Queen has a few tricks of her own, most of them deadly. Tiffany and the Feegles might get more than they bargained for on the flip side of Faerie! Prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett has served up another delicious helping of his famed Discworld fare. The not-quite-teen set will delight in the Feegles’ spicy, irreverent dialogue and Tiffany’s salty determination. Novices to Pratchett’s prose will find much to like here, and quickly go back to devour the rest of his Discworld offerings. Scrumptiously recommended. (Ages 10 to 14) --Jennifer Hubert

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-7-Tiffany, an extremely competent nine-year-old, takes care of her irritating brother, makes good cheese on her father's farm, and knows how to keep secrets. When monsters from Fairyland invade her world and her brother disappears, Tiffany, armed only with her courage, clear-sightedness, a manual of sheep diseases, and an iron frying pan, goes off to find him. Her search leads her to a showdown with the Fairy Queen. It is clear from the beginning that Tiffany is a witch, and a mighty powerful one. The book is full of witty dialogue and a wacky cast of characters, including a toad (formerly a lawyer). Much of the humor is supplied by the alcohol-swilling, sheep-stealing pictsies, the Wee Free Men of the title, who are six-inches high and speak in a broad Scottish brogue. (The fact that readers will not understand some of the dialect won't matter, as Tiffany doesn't understand either, and it is all part of the joke.) These terrors of the fairy world are Tiffany's allies, and she becomes their temporary leader as they help her search for the Fairy Queen. Once the story moves into Fairyland it becomes more complex, with different levels of dream states (or, rather, nightmares) and reality interweaving. Tiffany's witchcraft eschews the flamboyant tricks of wizards; it is quiet, inconspicuous magic, grounded in the earth and tempered with compassion, wisdom, and justice for common folk. Not as outrageous and perhaps not as inventive as The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (HarperCollins, 2001), The Wee Free Men has a deeper, more human interest and is likely to have wider appeal. All in all, this is a funny and thought-provoking fantasy, with powerfully visual scenes and characters that remain with readers. A glorious read.
Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was fifteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe. Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987 he turned to writing full time, and has not looked back since. To date there are a total of 36 books in the Discworld series, of which four (so far) are written for children. The first of these children's books, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal. A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller, and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback (Harper Torch, 2006) and trade paperback (Harper Paperbacks, 2006). Terry's latest book, Nation, a non-Discworld standalone YA novel was published in October of 2008 and was an instant New York Times and London Times bestseller. Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire "for services to literature" in 1998, and has received four honorary doctorates from the Universities of Warwick, Portsmouth, Bath, and Bristol. His acclaimed novels have sold more than 55 million copies (give or take a few million) and have been translated into 36 languages. Terry Pratchett lives in England with his family, and spends too much time at his word processor.  Some of Terry's accolades include: The Carnegie Medal, Locus Awards, the Mythopoetic Award, ALA Notable Books for Children, ALA Best Books for Young Adults, Book Sense 76 Pick, Prometheus Award and the British Fantasy Award.

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended to both children and adults.
James D. DeWitt
"The Wee Free Men" is the first book in a trilogy starring Tiffany and the Nac Mac Feegle.
E. A. Lovitt
Terry Pratchett is an incredible writer with a vivid imagination.
Chris Shippas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 102 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you're already a Terry Pratchett fan (I certainly am), you don't need a reviewer to tell you that you'll like this book. I'd like to address this review to the many many readers who are looking for something really GREAT for younger readers.
Tiffany, a 9-year-old witch must save the world with the assistance of a herd of drunken angry red-headed six-inch-tall kilt-wearing Scottish fairies, who bear names like "Slightly Bigger Than Wee Jock But Not So Big as Middle-Sized Jock Jock" and "Rob Anybody."
The book is hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny for both younger and adult readers (my family looked at me funny as I was giggling the whole time I was reading it.) Although a girl is the hero, the rambunctious troublemaking Feegles will make the book highly appealing for boys (of all ages) as well.
It's actually serious in intent, though, with themes reminiscent of A Wrinkle in Time or The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe series (the villain is a Queen who distorts people's consciousnesses and leaves a trail of frozen weather everywhere she goes). Tiffany saves the world through strength of character and common sense (and hooray for those!) rather than with magic alone.
As much as we liked Harry Potter around our house, I think that Wee Free Men is the equal of any of the Potter books. The best "kid" fiction of the year (or longer).
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70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on May 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Terry Pratchett won a Carnegie Medal for his first children's book set in his Discworld, "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents." He has a good shot at a second award for "Wee Free Men." It's that good.
Nine year old Tiffany Aching was born on The Chalk. The Achings have lived on The Chalk and tended their sheep for centuries. Tiffany's grandmother was the matriarch of the Aching clan, and while she never called herself a witch, she never denied it, either. Tiffany is still trying to adjust to the death of her grandmother, and to the birth of her sticky little brother, Wentworth, when she is attacked by a monster out of Faerie. One thing leads to another, and before long she must rescue her brother from Faerie, be the kelda of the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men of the title, and save the world from the terrors of Faerie. Because there is no one else.
One of Pratchett's many skills is inversion. In "Amazing Maurice," he inverted the Pied Piper of Hamlin. In "Wee Free Men," he inverts children's fairy tales in general. Instead of a magic sword, Tiffany has a plain old iron frying pan. Instead of a wise mentor, she has a toad who used to be a lawyer. Instead of an army, she has the Nac Mac Feegle. The Queen of Faerie, Tiffany's antagonist, is about as far from a noble Tolkien elf as you can get. Because the Queen of Faery has the power to steal your dreams, your worst nightmares, and trap you inside them.
And Tiffany must confront the Queen on her own ground, in the land of nightmares, where the monsters are terrifying and real. You don't have to reflect very long to understand Pratchett is working at several levels. The themes are meaningful and accessible to children without the slightest condescension.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Carl Malmstrom on May 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"The Wee Free Men" is Terry Pratchett's second foray into Discworld-for-Young-Adults coming a year and a half after "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents" and six months after his last 'regular' Discworld book, "Night Watch". It revisits ground from "Lords and Ladies" and "Carpe Jugulum", which is fine, because with usual Pratchett flair, he tosses in enough wry satire, strange humor and generally good storytelling that you don't always notice when he goes back to some of his older material.
While the Nac Mac Feegle (the Wee Free Men last seen in "Carpe Jugulum"), little woad-tattooed Pictsies, do feature in a large chunk of the book, the heroine is Tiffany, a nine-year-old witch's granddaughter and budding witch herself who must be the singularly most sensible (but still likeable) character I've ever read in a book directed at an audience less than 18 years old. She struggles to cope with the death of a grandmother who, even though she died more than a year ago, has still had a huge impact on her life. She also struggles with making sense of the world - both as a young girl and as a human being, and she struggles with the Queen of the Elves/Fairies (last seen in "Lords and Ladies") in what becomes a metaphor for maturity and clarity in a large, scary world. Pratchett's moral is that just because you're not yet officially an adult, it doesn't mean that you can't understand the world any less well. This is a theme he's played with before, but it's always appropriate no matter how many times he brings it out.
As a huge Discworld fan, I really enjoyed this book - possibly even more than "The Amazing Maurice...", although it's probably not at quite the same level of literary excellence as his previous work.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. Wratten on August 5, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As with much of Terry Pratchett's work, the story-line in the Wee Free Men takes place on Discworld, in this case on The Chalk. It is a story of a young witch's "coming of age." Tiffany must save herself, her brother, her new-found charges the Nac Man Feegle (a tiny group of men who remind me of rabid football fans)and of course, the world. She goes from churning butter on the farm to battling the Queen of the Elves and her grimhounds. Armed only with a frying pan and her memories of Granny Aching, Tiffany sets out on a wonderfully narrated voyage of adventure and self-discovery.

Anyone who has read even one or two of Pratchett's books (I read the book before I bought the CD) marvels at the sub plots, the message, the moral -- and this book does not disappoint. Many times, I set down the book (pushed the pause button) and just contemplated what I was hearing. Marvelous.

Stephen Briggs, the narrator, does a great job doing the voices of Tiffany, the Queen, the Nac Mac Feegle. He has the ability to keep the characters separate in my mind as I listen to the CD. When he switched from narration to dialogue it did not interrupt the flow of the story. This CD was worth every cent!
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