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The Wee Free Men: A Story of Discworld Hardcover – April 29, 2003
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Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of faerie, and its 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 its not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches dont use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything thats going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffanys 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 Tiffanys salty determination. Novices to Pratchetts 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.
Top customer reviews
Tiffany Aching finds her family farm being invaded by monsters from dreams as well as a horde of little blue men, the titular Wee Free Men. Tiffany is very smart for her age and sees things as they are just like her grandmother, so when strange things pop up she uses an iron pan to beat them back. Although she later figures out that her grandmother was a witch, Tiffany has her first encounter with one in the form of Ms. Lick who tells her to be careful but not to tackle the problem on her own but when her brother is kidnapped by the Fairie Queen, Tiffany knows she’s going to need help while not sounding desperate. Tiffany’s help comes to her when the local clan of the Wee Free Men shows up looking for the new “hag ol’ the hills” because of the invasion of the Queen. Tiffany and the Wee Free Men invade ‘Fairyland’ and manage to return with her brother, a feat that Granny Weatherwax finds impressive for someone so young and untrained.
"The Wee Free Men" features Tiffany as the only point-of-view character, save from a narrator, which keeps the book fairly orderly when reading as well as being in line for a book for younger readers. The story itself is somewhat familiar for long time Discworld fans with the antagonist being the Queen of the Elves invading, but Pratchett changes things up with the use of dreams and the conflict as seen from a nine-year old. The cameo appearance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg at the end, sets up further adventures of Tiffany and connects her subseries with the Witches subseries with the hopes of seeing favorite characters in future books.
The second young adult and first Tiffany subseries book of the Discworld canon is a fantastic book; "The Wee Free Men" gives someone new for long time fans while introducing older characters for younger new readers. While it’s intended for a younger audience, older fans will appreciate Pratchett’s humorous fantasy writing with his twists and turns.
First of all lets talk about the writing style. I really enjoyed how this book was written. Reading from Tiffany’s point of view was very interesting and I enjoyed looking at the world as she sees it. I also loved the humor that Terry Pratchett intertwined into the story, as I usually do with his books.
The characters in this book very amazing! I greatly enjoyed learning about all of them. I especially loved the Nac Mac Feegle – they were awesome. Who wouldn’t love fighting, drinking, stealing little blue men? It was great seeing how their live and learning more about them and their history. I also liked Tiffany a lot. What I especially appreciated about her was how flawed she was. She felt like a real person and I loved her as the main character.
The story felt as if I was reading a novel that has been intertwined with a fairy tale. The adventure that Tiffany went on was fascinating and I loved the way the way the other world was described. (I can’t explain it any better because it would spoil things.)
All in all I highly recommend this book to everyone. Literary everyone.
But it's not like she's going after her brother empty-handed. She does have a cast-iron frying pan and a bad attitude. And she somehow has earned the respect of the Nac Mac Feegle. The Nac Mac Feegle are fairies . . . of a sort. They were kicked out of fairy land for fighting, drinking, swearing, drinking, stealing, fighting, general tomfoolery and swearing while drinking and fighting. Massively strong, incredibly quick and almost impossibly sticky-fingered, the average Nac Mac Feegle stands about two inches tall and talks in a Scottish accent that comes across marvelously in Pratchett's dialogue.
This is the start of a marvelous trilogy following young Tiffany Aching as she moves from granddaughter of a (possible) witch, to a full-fledged witch on her own. It's not only a treat for YA readers, but also for parents to read aloud to their younger children.
I already have purchased numerous copies of this book to give away as each of my boys and my many nieces and nephews have come of the age where they'll enjoy the book. Every one of the young kids I've gifted with the book has come back asking for more.
Definitely worth your time and money.