- Series: Tiffany Aching (Book 1)
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (September 1, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062435264
- ISBN-13: 978-0062435262
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 599 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wee Free Men (Tiffany Aching) Paperback – September 1, 2015
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“With its wry wit and acerbic collision of the mystical with the mundane, the latest book in Pratchett’s internationally popular Discworld, is good solid storytelling done in a style that reads like Celtic mythology fused with the girl power of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” with dialogue by Robert Burns.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Exuberant and irresistible. Pratchett’s tale recalls a whole variety of texts in which underestimated heroines confront the forces of darkness—Meg Murry of A Wrinkle in Time, Coraline of Neil Gaiman’s recent novel, Lyra Belacqua of The Golden Compass, Miss Bianca of The Rescuers, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” (Washington Post)
“A smart retelling [that] delves into weighty issues but keeps its sense of dark humor.” (USA Today)
Wonderful language, genuinely scary explorations, and a young girl whose growing up is believable and exciting.” (Chicago Tribune)
“An enthralling and rewarding read.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Set in a chillingly unrecognizable ‘fairyland,’ this ingenious melange of fantasy, action, humor, and sly bits of social commentary contains complex underlying themes on the nature of love, reality, and dreams. The Carnegie Medal-winner’s fans will not be disappointed.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Perfect for anyone who enjoys The Princess Bride and the works of Douglas Adams. A wonderfully funny fantasy for all ages.” (KLIATT (starred review))
A glorious read.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
From the Back Cover
There's trouble on the Aching farm: monsters in the river, headless horsemen in the lane—and Tiffany Aching's little brother has been stolen by the Queen of Fairies. Getting him back will require all of Tiffany's strength and determination (as well as a sturdy skillet) and the help of the rowdy clan of fightin', stealin', tiny blue-skinned pictsies known as the Wee Free Men!
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I’ve got to say, this was one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story is completely charming in itself, a young girl meets some little men with red hair, blue tattoos, wearing kilts, about 6 inches tall called Nac Mac Feegle or the Wee Free Men, and together they have to rescue her young brother. The characters are well developed and almost always entertaining and hilarious – for example her younger brother constantly asks for “sweeties”, the Wee Free Men speak in Scottish accents and say things like “Ah, crivens” and are generally good natured despite being thieves. The best part for me, however, were all the surprising references to other books and pop culture which I did not expect but always put a smile on my face. For example, Pratchett parodies Lord of the Rings with “See their swords? They glow blue in the presence of lawyers” and Braveheart with “They can tak’ oour lives but they canna tak’ our troousers!” There’s possibly even a Bushism from the early 2000s (this book was published in 2003, so would make sense).
The book was a very easy, very entertaining read. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the Tiffany Aching miniseries as well as perhaps starting in on the rest of the larger Discworld universe.
As for the books themselves, they are classic, enjoyable Discworld novels. There are brief appearances by famous characters. There is a heroine who is neither a stereotypical shrinking violet nor a stereotypical male author's attempt at a strong female character. The only off thing about her characterization is that she's almost unbelievably mature for her age, but that can be explained away by the fact that she's a witch. The Nac Mac Feegle were new to me but interesting. The slightly askew look at Earth mythology is present and as appreciated as ever. Love it, but I have yet to meet a Pratchett novel I don't adore.
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.
This is the story of how Tiffany Aching met the little blue men of the Nac Mac Feegle, became their Kelda (or queen) for a while, drove off a Monster from Another Dimension with a frying pan and ... but I've said too much.
Tiffany Aching lives on a part of the Discworld mostly given over to raising sheep and making cheese. Her grandmother is the local witch (or so they say) but she has just died when the story begins, leaving Tiffany with a big hole in her heart.
Tiffany is above all practical and, as is the case with Young Adult heroines, wise beyond her years. Her tale will by turns thrill and appall the listener, but will never bore.
And this reading has a major advantage over the print version for non-UK readers: The accents sort of explain themselves, whereas they tend to confuse in print if the reader is not familiar with Comedy Standard Glasgee Scots (sort of Star Trek's Scotty done by those who know how to do it properly). It also helps if you know who William McGonagle was and why he is so beloved by those who love bad poetry.
Crivens, as Rob Anybody would say.
Very highly recommended for Young Adults of all ages.