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The Wee Free Men

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"Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back." "Why?" said Tiffany. "There's no one to stop them." There was silence for a moment. Then Tiffany said, "There's me." Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk c "Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back." "Why?" said Tiffany. "There's no one to stop them." There was silence for a moment. Then Tiffany said, "There's me." Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone... In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.


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"Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back." "Why?" said Tiffany. "There's no one to stop them." There was silence for a moment. Then Tiffany said, "There's me." Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk c "Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back." "Why?" said Tiffany. "There's no one to stop them." There was silence for a moment. Then Tiffany said, "There's me." Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone... In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

30 review for The Wee Free Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    I will never be able to write a book as good as this. I just finished reading it again. This is probably my third or fourth time. I love all of Pratchett's books. It's easy to do, as the best of them are utterly excellent, while the worst of them is merely great. This, I think, might be his best. And I love it for so many reasons. It is diamond beyond price among the other brilliant (but perhaps lesser) diamonds. Part of me wants to quote parts of it to you. But I won't. Out of context you can't f I will never be able to write a book as good as this. I just finished reading it again. This is probably my third or fourth time. I love all of Pratchett's books. It's easy to do, as the best of them are utterly excellent, while the worst of them is merely great. This, I think, might be his best. And I love it for so many reasons. It is diamond beyond price among the other brilliant (but perhaps lesser) diamonds. Part of me wants to quote parts of it to you. But I won't. Out of context you can't feel the weight of them. I love the main character. A little girl who is smart and strong and uncertain and proud. I wish I had a little girl, so I could give her this book. I wish I could give a copy of this book for every little girl in the world. I want them to meet Tiffany. And even if they don't want to be like Tiffany, I want them to know that she exists. That she is possible. I wish I could give a copy of this book to every little boy in the world, too. I want them to meet Tiffany. And even if they don't want to be like her, I want them to know that she exists, that she is possible. I wish I could read this book to my little boy. But he's only five, and parts of it would spook him, and other parts he wouldn't understand. Maybe in a year he will be ready. If you haven't read this book, you really should. You'll enjoy it a little more if you're familiar with Pratchett's Work, but that's not essential. When I grow up, I want to be Tiffany Aching.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Nataliya

    I plan to use this book in the future as a strategic "weapon" for introducing my (future, hypothetical) daughter to the world of Terry Pratchett's imagination. Yes, I see it as a 'gateway drug' to fuel addiction to Sir Terry's writing. And that's the addiction I'm happy to perpetuate.After all, this book introduces Tiffany Aching whom I love to pieces and want to adopt to be my level-headed and practical little sister. "Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand I plan to use this book in the future as a strategic "weapon" for introducing my (future, hypothetical) daughter to the world of Terry Pratchett's imagination. Yes, I see it as a 'gateway drug' to fuel addiction to Sir Terry's writing. And that's the addiction I'm happy to perpetuate.After all, this book introduces Tiffany Aching whom I love to pieces and want to adopt to be my level-headed and practical little sister. "Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am! This book is written to be accessible to kids and adults alike - since Pratchett does not stoop to the condescending and patronizing attitude that can easily plague the story written for ...ahem... younger members of society. No, you see, Pratchett seems to believe that intelligent young characters, as well as intelligent young readers, obviously, are perfectly capable of following stories with several layers of complexity in them."Zoology, eh? That's a big word, isn't it?" "No, actually it isn't," said Tiffany. "Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short."This book is also quite accessible to those who are just starting their journey into the superficially magical but actually very firmly grounded in reality and not afraid to deal with uncomfortable issues and ask uncomfortable questions world that Pratchett created. And please don't be fooled that the action takes place on a flat planet traveling through space on the back of four elephants standing on a back of a giant space turtle - the issues he writes about are quite applicable to the lives of people on a giant blue-green ball hurtling through space while circling along the hot yellow Sun. In The Wee Free Men, nine-year-old Tiffany Aching, a budding witch in a country that does not take kindly to witchcraft, has her first encounters with the supernatural world of Discworld. Intelligent and reasonable and practical, she takes it quite in stride - and so when her world is threatened by the invasion of monsters from the not-so-nice fairy tales, she firmly stands her ground, armed with little but a frying pan, analytical reasoning, common sense and Third Thoughts ("And Tiffany thought: No, that was a Third Thought. I’m thinking about how I think about what I’m thinking. At least, I think so.") and supported by a rowdy clan of the Mac Nag Feegle (the titular Wee Free Men) - a race of blue-skinned six-inch-tall pesky warriors who speak in vaguely Scottish dialect and are terrified of the evil also known as Lawyers. “Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.” “Why?” “There’s no one to stop them.” There was silence for a moment. “There’s me,” said Tiffany. In this book, Pratchett creates equally memorable settings that are polar opposites of each other. On one hand, we have The Chalk - a land of green hills that are suited for shepherding and populated by sturdy rural folk that do not take kindly to things like witchcrafting. “Ordinary fortune-tellers tell you what you want to happen; witches tell you what’s going to happen whether you want it to or not. Strangely enough, witches tend to be more accurate but less popular.” In fact, they'd prefer to burn witches for little less than the suspicion of being one. You see, most people there, unlike Tiffany, do not stop to *think* about what they're doing and *why* they're doing it. But Tiffany is not the one to go along with the crowd thinking without stopping to think for herself and question her motives and reasons. On the other side of Tiffany's reality, there is the Fairie, a surreal dream-like place -- and when I say dream-like, I'm referring not to the warm fluffy place of children's book but the dreams from which you wake up screaming and covered in sweat. “This is a dream, after all, Tiffany told herself. It doesn’t have to make sense, or be nice. It’s a dream, not a daydream. People who say things like “May all your dreams come true” should try living in one for five minutes.” But nothing in this fantastical and yet horrifying world is ever prepared for Tiffany with her logical mind and common sense and fierce desire to protect anything that is *hers*."Yes! I'm *me*! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!" The best thing about Tiffany Aching, a budding witch in the country that does not approve of witchcraft, is her propensity to question things and information that others take for granted. She bases her conclusions on evidence, and is able to think and reason intelligently. Not too many young literary heroines have actually shown this ability (even though some of them claim they have!). For this alone, I want to give her a huge bear hug and invite her to sleepovers with my (future, hypothetical) daughter. "And all the stories had, somewhere, the witch. The wicked old witch. And Tiffany had thought, Where’s the evidence? The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you had no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch. If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince” ... was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called him handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long” ... well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories didn’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told... Anyway, she preferred the witches to the smug handsome princes and especially to the stupid smirking princesses, who didn’t have the sense of a beetle... She couldn’t be the prince, and she’d never be a princess, and she didn’t want to be a woodcutter, so she’d be the witch and know things." Yes, this is my favorite thing about Tiffany - she wants to be a witch because she wants to know things. Just think about it - how awesome is it? Isn't it the opposite of what popular culture tries to teach young girls - to be pretty princesses just waiting for the Prince Charming??? “Open your eyes and then open your eyes again.” “The thing about witchcraft,” said Mistress Weatherwax, “is that it’s not like school at all. First you get the test, and then afterward you spend years findin’ out how you passed it. It’s a bit like life in that respect.” Tiffany has a highly logical and practical mind. She stops to think about things. She is reasonable and level-headed. She is fiercely protective of the things she loves. And she is awesome. She is the role model every young girl should have. She is what I hope to be on a daily basis (and unfortunately, I keep miserably failing at that). Oh, and did I mention that she is wickedly smart (“She’d read the dictionary all the way through. No one told her you weren’t supposed to”) and has a strong sense of justice and fairness? After all, her worldview was influenced by her legendary shepherdess grandmother, perhaps a bit a a witch herself (who, I think, could be a soul sister of Granny Weatherwax), and Tiffany has internalized her grandmother's philosophy quite well: “Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices."From her first action of smacking the supernatural invader with a frying pan (after carefully and thoroughly planning out her defense, of course) to her final act of saving her little corner of the universe, Tiffany manages to be an awesome role model for girls everywhere - sharp, intelligent, critically thinking, resourceful and never in the need of saving - as well as remaining a very believable nine-year-old girl, both selfish and selfless at the same time, both brave and frightened, sweet and prickly, and curious, determined and fiercely protective of what's hers. And she can stretch the definition of *HERS* pretty far - the knack that her world should be thankful for."All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!"At the end of her adventure, Tiffany does something that not that many heroines of books aimed at younger people do - she genuinely grows up, gains some maturity that is amazing and yet sad at the same time - sad because it's always a part of the emotions I feel when realizing that someone is slowly losing their childhood innocence bit by bit, changing from a child to someone with *responsibility* (and your age, really, has little bearing on whether you are an adult, after all). She no longer is just a little girl - she is a girl armed with knowledge and power (with which, of course, apparently comes great responsibility) - and she takes it on with the same quiet resignation and determination as she does anything else. “I’ll never be like this again, she thought, as she saw the terror in the Queen’s face. I’ll never again feel as tall as the sky and as old as the hills and as strong as the sea. I’ve been given something for a while, and the price of it is that I have to give it back. And the reward is giving it back, too. No human could live like this. You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn’t get the milking done. No wonder we dream our way through our lives. To be awake, and see it all as it really is…no one could stand that for long.” Wonderful Tiffany art by Iberghol and JazzySatinDoll “The secret is not to dream," she whispered. "The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I'm going. You cannot fool me any more. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.” --------------- This book is an easy 5-star read. I adore it and will definitely sneak it onto the future hypothetical to-read pile for my future hypothetical daughter. "She’d never really liked the book. It seemed to her that it tried to tell her what to do and what to think. Don’t stray from the path, don’t open that door, but hate the wicked witch because she is wicked. Oh, and believe that shoe size is a good way of choosing a wife. A lot of the stories were highly suspicious, in her opinion. There was the one that ended when the two good children pushed the wicked witch into her own oven. Tiffany had worried about that after all that trouble with Mrs Snapperly. Stories like this stopped people thinking properly, she was sure. She’d read that one and thought, Excuse me? No one has an oven big enough to get a whole person in, and what made the children think they could just walk around eating people’s houses in any case? And why does some boy too stupid to know a cow is worth a lot more than five beans have the right to murder a giant and steal all his gold? Not to mention commit an act of ecological vandalism? And some girl who can’t tell the difference between a wolf and her grandmother must either have been as dense as teak or come from an extremely ugly family. The stories weren’t real. But Mrs Snapperly had died because of stories."

  3. 3 out of 5

    Matt

    I'm a huge fan of dangerous books for boys. I love classic boys literature, whether Dumas's 'Count of Monte Cristo', Kipling's 'Jungle Book', Burroughs 'A Princess of Mars', Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', or Heinlein's juvenile fiction. I love good stories that instruct boys in being adults. I love them for being persistently politically incorrect, not just now but then. I love them because they are stories by people who obviously know boys and know what they need. And, I love them for just being fun a I'm a huge fan of dangerous books for boys. I love classic boys literature, whether Dumas's 'Count of Monte Cristo', Kipling's 'Jungle Book', Burroughs 'A Princess of Mars', Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', or Heinlein's juvenile fiction. I love good stories that instruct boys in being adults. I love them for being persistently politically incorrect, not just now but then. I love them because they are stories by people who obviously know boys and know what they need. And, I love them for just being fun and exciting adventure stories. They abide, despite the distaste of limp wristed educators that would rather that little boys don't read them and are horrified when boys play with pretend weapons. I see that and I see someone that hates boys, and for that matter doesn't have a particularly high opinion of girls either. Far be it from me to be a child hater who insists that little boys and girls never be messy, smelly, or wild. You can't learn bravery or wisdom if you learn nothing about risk. You can't learn to be gentle if you aren't first strong. But I don't have boys; I have two girls. That isn't to say that I don't intend to read to them all the great boy's literature, because I don't think that boys and girls are all so different as all of that. But, there just aren't a lot of dangerous books for girls. There aren't many daring books which feature female protagonists and address the question of growing up through a girl's eyes in ways that I approve of. Even Rowling's 'Harry Potter', features at its heart, a daring young man, not a daring young woman. And too much young adult literature for girls makes girls lives seem like they are all about boys and spend too little time on the other important things. So of course, if you've read this book, you can imagine my joy at finding a story which is in the model of the best boy's literature but has as its protagonist - a girl. And what a girl! If you haven't read, 'The Wee Free Men', the protagonist is young Tiffany Aching, shepherd girl and cheese maker, who you'll fall in love with by the end of the first chapter. She's little, but she is doughty! To give anything away about the plot would be unfair to the reader. The story is set on Pratchett's Discworld, but the connections are very loose and the reader gives up only a few easter eggs by not having read anything else in the series. There is no more need to read 'Lords and Ladies' or have an existing relationship with Granny Weatherwax than there is a need to read the Silmarillion before reading 'The Lord of the Rings'. So go ahead and open this story up, be you young or old, boy or girl, fan of fantasy or no; this is a treasure. I love reading to my girls, but I sometimes get anxious for the probably all too quickly coming days when I can read something to them with more meat: something which is nearer and dearer to my heart. If I could only read them two fiction books, I'd read them Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and Pratchett's 'The Wee Free Men'. It's of that stature. Some of my readers - being who they are, or knowing who I am - may wonder that I'd so recommend this tale of 'witchcraft'. Well, for one thing, there isn't a lot of actual 'witchcraft' in the craft that Pratchett teaches. The problem with the word ‘witch’ is that it means so many different things to so many different people, that it really means nothing unless you know what it is pointing to. In Pratchett's case, the word 'witch' might as well mean 'nerd', because they are essentially pointing to the same idea. But, for people that don't know that words are merely pointers, and have no meaning until they are addressed and dereferenced, or who are uncomfortable with that, let me add this addition: I'm my children's parent, not a book. There isn't anything made by man which doesn't have a something in it which isn't fully edifying. I can round off the rough corners of my children's developing understanding fairly easily. I can talk with them about what they read. I would have to do that no matter what they read, for there is nothing written in the tongues of men that can't be misunderstood. What I can't do so easily is inspire children. I can't so easily make them care and make them excited so that they know something not just in their heads but also in their hearts. For that, I need the help of stories, and this is a good one filled with many things that are virtuous and true. I'm not going to let any minor confusion get in the way of that.

  4. 3 out of 5

    j

    This was my first Terry Pratchett book. If you a looking for a way into his Discworld series (which is, at last count, 1 million books long), you could do worse. It's a totally separate story arc. It's the first of a shorter sub-series, giving you someplace to go if you like it. It's YA, so it goes down easy. It stars a creative, capable heroine and is in no way about her love of boys, which is always refreshing (still, still this is refreshing). And it's funny. I mean, funny-ish. Funny is so inc This was my first Terry Pratchett book. If you a looking for a way into his Discworld series (which is, at last count, 1 million books long), you could do worse. It's a totally separate story arc. It's the first of a shorter sub-series, giving you someplace to go if you like it. It's YA, so it goes down easy. It stars a creative, capable heroine and is in no way about her love of boys, which is always refreshing (still, still this is refreshing). And it's funny. I mean, funny-ish. Funny is so incredibly hard to do in books. Or maybe it is just hard to make a book that I will think is actually funny, instead of just clearly trying to be funny. I almost never laugh when I read. Other reviews of this book mention hearty belly-aching guffaws, streaming tears, books uncontrollably flung into the air in spastic fits of mirthful glee. Whereas I would encounter one of Pratchett's many, many puns or subtle off-color jokes (I would quote one but the book is already back at the library, but they are well-placed and will surely go right over a kid's head), and my brain would go, "Hey, that is clever. That's funny. Ha ha." But meanwhile, my face would look like this: I don't know what is wrong with me! I want to be one of those people who giggle-snorts while reading on the subway. I do laugh when I read funny blog posts or Goodreads reviews so I don't know what is going on. The last time I remember laughing really hard at a book, it was one small part of The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant by Dan Savage. Terry Pratchett deserves a better reader than me because this is a funny book. Tiffany Aching is the kind of girl you want your daughter to read about. And your son; he can read books with girls in them too. In the course of discovering she is a witch and, with the help of the titular Wee Free Men, who are like drunken, filthy-mouthed Smurfs, saving her little brother, Labyrinth-style, she learns she is a strong and capable girl with her own identity and a link to past generations of powerful women. This is clearly why the back of the book mentions Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I said this was YA, but aside from being light and easy to read, it is also well-considered and thoughtful and, yes, funny. Probably.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    I really, really wish that I had a younger girl cousin to pass this book onto, because I think it's a perfect antidote for some of the books that are enjoying a vogue right now (*cough* Twilight *cough*). Where the latter feature some downright disturbing gender politics, The Wee Free Men has a heroine who's sensible and smart and capable; a realistic, strong relationship between grandmother and granddaughter; a world where women are bounded by preconceptions and gender roles and fears, but a I really, really wish that I had a younger girl cousin to pass this book onto, because I think it's a perfect antidote for some of the books that are enjoying a vogue right now (*cough* Twilight *cough*). Where the latter feature some downright disturbing gender politics, The Wee Free Men has a heroine who's sensible and smart and capable; a realistic, strong relationship between grandmother and granddaughter; a world where women are bounded by preconceptions and gender roles and fears, but a nine-year-old girl is still strong enough to take on the Queen of Fairie armed only with a frying pan. All that, and Pratchett's trademark wry humour and slightly dark take at some of our best-loved assumptions—really well worth the read.

  6. 3 out of 5

    María

    Le tengo cariño a casi todas las brujas, para qué mentir. Pero Tiff me ha robado el corazón.

  7. 3 out of 5

    Sarah

    Tiffany Aching, aged nine, is the only member of her large family with a jot of curiosity about the outside world. For generations without counting, the Achings (also spelled Aikens, Archens, or Akins) have tended sheep in the Discworld backwater known as the Chalk. Nothing interesting has happened in the Chalk for all of recorded history. But that's about to change. A parasitic fae world, made of selfish magic and dream fragments, is connecting to the Chalk. Monsters not seen in centuries are d Tiffany Aching, aged nine, is the only member of her large family with a jot of curiosity about the outside world. For generations without counting, the Achings (also spelled Aikens, Archens, or Akins) have tended sheep in the Discworld backwater known as the Chalk. Nothing interesting has happened in the Chalk for all of recorded history. But that's about to change. A parasitic fae world, made of selfish magic and dream fragments, is connecting to the Chalk. Monsters not seen in centuries are dropping up in fields and rivers. Tiffany is the only human aware of them, and thus the only defense against them. So when Tiffany's perpetually sticky, candy-obsessed toddler brother, Wentworth, is left unattended for a few minutes and abducted by the cruel and selfish Faerie Queen (pronounced "Quin" by most of our cast) only Tiffany can save him. She finds allies in the Nac Mac Feegle - a cheerfully violent tribe of six-inch-high, blue-skinned brigands with thick Scottish burrs - and a talking toad (view spoiler)[who was once a human lawyer. (hide spoiler)] She enters Faerie armed with nothing but an iron skillet. Sam Gamgee and Rapunzel approve. Content Advisory Violence: The Feegles will attack anything, including but not limited to faerie queens, sharks, sheep, giant squid, whiny twelve-year-old boys, housecats, and each other. This is always played for laughs. There is no actual death or gore shown. There's an unsettling flashback of the Chalk people burning down the house of an elderly suspected witch and killing her cat. Sex: Tiffany's older sisters enjoy springtime on the farm because they get to watch the young men working with their shirts off. Tiffany is baffled. She's equally baffled by her uncle's fondness for a chewing tobacco logo that features a nude female figure if you look at it from a certain angle. When Tiffany is declared temporary kelda (matriarch) of the local Feegles, she fears that she'll have to marry their chief, Rob Anybody (yes, that's his real name), as dictated by tradition. He's just as scared as she is, due to the considerable difference in age and size. They figure a way out of it, don't worry! Language: The Feegles' favorite word is "crivens!" , a fairly obvious euphemism. Substance Abuse: The Wee Free Men are always hammered and proud of it. Tiffany bribes them with something called Special Sheep Linament, which is said to put hair on one 's chest. All the adults in Tiffany's family chew tobacco. Nightmare Fuel: Literal. In Faerie live blobby, faceless creatures called dromes, who absorb human thoughts and build dreams from them. Usually the human gets trapped in the dream and starves, while the drome drains the life from them. The Quin is a shapeshifter with no settled form. At one point Tiffany notices that her enemy's eyes "don't move as if she sees through them" *shudders* Politics and Religion: Pratchett's suspicion of religion is not manifest in this book but occasionally crops up later in the series. While the word "witch" is frequently used, the witches in this universe have little in common with real-world witches, or even Harry Potter witches. The trappings we associate with witches - incantations, potions, summoning of spirits - are almost nonexistent here. This is just a group of women who do the right thing because somebody has to. Their main goal is keeping the peace and protecting the powerless, and unlike many fictional witches, they don't hate men. In the case of Nanny Ogg, they really, really...don't hate men. Conclusion The Wee Free Men was my introduction to Pratchett and Discworld, but despite being his fortieth book set there it was easy to jump in. It does owe a bit to the great older-kid/YA adventure stories that came before, particularly Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, The Snow Queen, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, and Labyrinth. But these similarities are in the bones of the story, not displayed on its facade. The imagery is often familiar, but the tale itself has a unique viewpoint and message. For instance, if you put all the villains of the aforementioned stories in a police lineup, the Quin would stand out. She's not a bellowing dullard like the Queen of Hearts, nor is she consumed with hubris and power-lust like Jadis. She's much more personal than IT (L'Engle's mutant disembodied brain, not King's demon clown) and much smarter than Smaug, who has the mind of a worm after all. As for Jareth, he's an antihero, not a villain, and has a human emotional life beyond the capabilities of someone like the Quin. If anything she's a more active Snow Queen, a shallow malignant force who feeds on discouragement and falsehood. Tiffany wins by being grounded in her home soil. Unlike the majority of the protagonists on the influence list, she does not come from money. She's grown up among life and death and beauty and decay as only a farm kid can. She wants to travel and learn, but she's no Belle looking down her nose at the other villagers either. Tiffany is probably better adjusted than most adults. And those crazy Feegles. My imagination would be a sad place without their brainless bravery , huge hearts, eternal loyalty, and love of kebabs. I am happy to report that there are four more books about Tiffany and Co. A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight are just as good as this one, albeit darker. I haven't read The Shepherd's Crown yet. This book is recommended for everyone 14 and up, but especially if you need a break from mainstream YA melodrama and/or books that idolize the Fey Folk.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lyn

    Pictsies not Pixies. While Terry Pratchett’s 2003 Discworld STORY (signifying that it is young adult book) introduces the spunky and likable nine year old protagonist Tiffany Aching (spawning four more books) the true hero(es) of this very enjoyable adventure are the Nac Mac Feegle. Standing six inches tall, ginger bearded and blue tattooed, the Wee Free Men are fearless, profane (in a YA approved package), and like stealing, drinking and fighting. They are as hilarious as minions, kick ass and ha Pictsies not Pixies. While Terry Pratchett’s 2003 Discworld STORY (signifying that it is young adult book) introduces the spunky and likable nine year old protagonist Tiffany Aching (spawning four more books) the true hero(es) of this very enjoyable adventure are the Nac Mac Feegle. Standing six inches tall, ginger bearded and blue tattooed, the Wee Free Men are fearless, profane (in a YA approved package), and like stealing, drinking and fighting. They are as hilarious as minions, kick ass and have names like: Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, Big Aggie, Wee Jock, and No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock. Realizing that she sees the world differently than others, Tiffany befriends the little people and gets sideways of the Elf queen who has kidnapped her little brother. Pratchett’s humor and imagination, mainstays of the Discworld experience, are on full display and this is a great story to boot. And it has wee pictsies.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Algernon

    Usually, I'm at a loss when it comes to Christmas gifts. I don't like to give articles of clothing and gift cards feel too impersonal. I get by with the occasional bottle of perfume, compilation album or with some silly toy, but this year I think I've stumbled on a real gem: I bought The Wee Free Men because it is by Pratchett and because it says on the back cover the heroine is nine year's old. Turns out is is one of the very best in the whole Discworld catalogue, one of the funniest but also Usually, I'm at a loss when it comes to Christmas gifts. I don't like to give articles of clothing and gift cards feel too impersonal. I get by with the occasional bottle of perfume, compilation album or with some silly toy, but this year I think I've stumbled on a real gem: I bought The Wee Free Men because it is by Pratchett and because it says on the back cover the heroine is nine year's old. Turns out is is one of the very best in the whole Discworld catalogue, one of the funniest but also one of sir Terry's most serious and heart warming offerings. Like the best of Pixar movies, it should appeal to youngsters and grown-ups equally. And I have to buy a second copy for a gift, in order to keep the one I read for myself. Another bonus is that readers unfamiliar with the Discworld setting should have no problems starting right here. The quality of the writing is much improved compared to some of the early books in the series, the location is new (The Chalk is an isolated corner of the flat world, concerned almost exclusively with sheep farming) and the lead character, Tiffany Aching makes her debut here. I believe the pictsies (they're NOt the same thing as pixies) also show up here for the first time, although they may have had a walk-in guest appearance in some earlier story. The book is about witches, friends in need, family, dreams. It is also about self-awareness, self-determination and courage, regardless of the size or age of the protagonist. Last but not least, because we're talking about Terry Pratchett here, it is also about the humorous subversion of popular myths and concepts (like the cute, sparkly and benevolent fairies) and about thinking outside the box. Crivens! I should probably cut the generalities and be more specific: Young sheepfarmer daughter Tiffany comes from a very old family in the Chalk - a place that seemes almost frozen in time, unchanging in its traditions and occupations since times immemorial. She helps around the farm, reads dictionaries from start to finish (nobody told her she's not supposed to), babysits her sticky 'I-Want-Candy' younger brother Wentworth, and likes to tickle trout in the nearby stream in her leisure time. Problems arise when another world touches on the real one, opening magical portals and letting various monsters and horrors pass through. Tiffany deals with the first ones summarily (Remember Tangled and the iron frying pan?), but things get really serious when her brother Wenthworth goes missing. To rescue him, Tiffany must go into the magical world beyond the gate, where the Queen of Fairyland rules through the power of dreams. Luckily for her, some unexpected allies with a talent for breaking & entering where they're not supposed to show up. They are the Nac Mac Feegles. Also known as pictsies. They call themselves the Wee Free Men. There were hundreds. They rose up from behind buckets. They lowered themselves on string from the ceiling beams. They sidled sheepishly from behind the cheese racks. They crept from under the sink. They came out of places where you'd think a man with hair like an orange nova couldn't possibly hide. They were all about six inches tall and mostly colored blue, although it was hard to know if that was the actual color of their skins or just the dye from their tattoos, which covered every inch that wasn't covered with red hair. They wore short kilts, and some wore other bits of clothing too, like skinny vests. A few of them wore rabbit or rat skulls on their heads, as a sort of helmet. And every single one of them carried, slung across his back, a sword nearly as big as he was. They like stealing, drinking and fighting and use their heads only as battering rams on their adversaries. They speak a delightful variant of Scottish brogue ( We is no strangers to the piscatorial an' nautical arts, ye ken. ) and have twee little names like Rob Anything or Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock. The pictsies may be an unruly, undependable, amoral, drunken mob with volatile tempers, but they are good to have by your side in a fight. Here are some more examples of their warrior cries: They can tak' oour lives but they canna tak' oour troousers! Ye'll tak' the high road an' I'll tak' yer wallet! There can be only one t'ousand! Ach, stick it up yer trakkans! Nae King! Nae Quin! Nae Laird! Nae master! We wilna be fooled again! My favorite of the bunch is Daft Wullie who never thinks before he opens his mouth and whose candor about the illegal activities of the pictsies provided many laughs along the journey. In contrast to Daft Wullie, Tiffany has some abilities that make her a very special young girl. She thinks carefully before comitting herself to speak, she cares about her flock and her people, she's good with her hands. Most of all she is inquisitive - the best kind of kids, one of those that are forever asking questions and are curious about the surrounding world). Apparently these are all the necessary qualifications to become a witch, only nobody can tell her where to apply to go to witch school. All she can do is stare hard: at people, at the world around her, at the problems facing her. Tiffany's Second Thoughts said: Hang on, was that a First Thought? And Tiffany thought: No, that was a Third Thought. I'm thinking about how I think about what I'm thinking. At least, I think so. Her Second Thoughts said: Let's all calm down, please, because this is quite a small head. I almost forgot about another magical helper that the girl receives from a visiting older witch (Miss Tick), namely a sarcastic talking toad, cursed by an angry fairy godmother for injuries undisclosed at the start of the novel (view spoiler)[ he's a lawyer (hide spoiler)] . The whole conversation between Tiffany and Miss Tick is one of the highlights of the novel, as is the concept of the itinerant teachers. It doesn't sound like a bad career choice, opening young minds from impoverished locations to the wonders of the larger world. I would name them 'hedge-teachers' in honor of one of Geroge R R Martin novellas: They went from village to village delivering short lessons on many subjects. They kept apart from the other travelers and were quite mysterious in their ragged robes and strange square hats. They used long words, like 'corrugated iron'. They lived rough lives, surviving on what food they could earn from giving lessons to anyone who would listen. When no one would listen, they lived on baked hedgehog. They went to sleep under the stars, which the math teachers would count, the astronomy teachers would measure, and the literature teachers would name. The geography teachers got lost in the woods and fell into bear traps. Most of the novel is spent though in the realm of the Fairy Queen, a bleak, desolate and dangerous snowy landscape that is a far cry from the sunny, pastel coloured, cutesy standard depiction ( Ye could say it's the bit the tourists dinna see. observes Rob Anybody). Predatory dreamweavers (called 'dromes') wait in the shadows to trap unwary visitors in nightmares. The Queen is the most dangerous of all the creatures in the realm, yet Tiffany must confront her directly if she wants to rescue her brother. The epic battle of wills between adultly inclined Tiffany and childish, arrogant, fickle Queen is spectacular and full of invention, managing to include both endearing flashbacks of Tiffany's role model Granny Aching ( Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.), social commentary on lords and peasants and even some highbrow literary references like the masterpiece of Henry Mellville Moby Dick . In conclusion, Tiffany Aching turns out to be yet another young protagonist that I loved at first sight (like September in Catherynne Valente The Girl Who... or like the young kid from Neil Gaiman's Ocean At The End of the Lane ) and I will look forward to the next Discworld books featuring her. She may be a little young here, but I never felt she was out of character or too smart for her years in the way she looks at the world and in the way she solves her problems on her own, without appealing for help from adults: Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am! I will say goodbye now to Tiffany, with another quote from the Nac Mac Feegles (I hope they will also return to wreck merry havoc in the next Discworld books) : Permission to go offski!

  10. 3 out of 5

    Melindam

    Netgalley arc provided by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.” Pure Pratchett, an ageless story with universal appeal to both children and adults. This is one of the most serious stories of Discworld, as Terry Pratchett knew perfectly well that if you write to and about children, you have to b Netgalley arc provided by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. “If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.” Pure Pratchett, an ageless story with universal appeal to both children and adults. This is one of the most serious stories of Discworld, as Terry Pratchett knew perfectly well that if you write to and about children, you have to be serious, otherwise it won't work. I wish I could have been like Tiffany Aching as a child: unafraid with First Sight (to see what is really there) and Second Thoughts (thinking about what you are thinking) and lots of common sense. Hell, as an adult, I still want to be Tiffany. Well, First Sight does not work all the time, though I am getting better at Second Thoughts (and Third). I don't have a daughter, I have a small son, nevertheless I hope we will read this book (and others of the Discworld series) together one day to remind me and show him that: - you don't need to own and brandish a sword to be a hero: sometimes a firm grip on a frying pan and on facts suffices - it takes courage to accept and to be yourself, but it's worth it - just because you are not a prince/princess, it does not mean that you don't have your own story - that you have to go and question stories and not take them at face value. “Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.” “It doesn't stop being magic just because you know how it works.”

  11. 3 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    "So... Roland with the beefy face was the hero, was he? And she was just like the stupid princess who broke her ankle and fainted all the time? That was completely unfair!" [First read: 2nd June, 2013: 3 stars. Second read: 17th July, 2018. 4 stars.] You know when you finish a book and it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling and makes you smile-not too wide, not a stupid grin-just a lovely little expression you give yourself, as if you're remembering a joke or something nice that happened to you once? "So... Roland with the beefy face was the hero, was he? And she was just like the stupid princess who broke her ankle and fainted all the time? That was completely unfair!" [First read: 2nd June, 2013: 3 stars. Second read: 17th July, 2018. 4 stars.] You know when you finish a book and it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling and makes you smile-not too wide, not a stupid grin-just a lovely little expression you give yourself, as if you're remembering a joke or something nice that happened to you once? I live for books that give those moments. "But that time it had been magic. And it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done." Tiffany Aching is nine years old, and whilst I think that's a tiny bit young to be believable-but then I don't know many nine year old girls, only stupid boys-she does have a good adult brain in her head, it's just the rest of her body needs to catch up. She lives in soft chalk, but it's hers and it's what she knows. You can't teach experience, after all. Discworld for children makes me slightly nervous. (If you think this is YA you can leave this review right now.) It's always grand-as is anything PTerry writes-but it always seems to have the edge taken off it very slightly. The big issues are always there and there are hints of rudeness which, despite myself, I love, but the wonderful, razor sharp edge isn't always quite there. With Tiffany Aching, and only through a re-read on hot summer days and nights, I got over that slightly. The story line is pretty much typical Discworld: fairies gone rogue, witches saving the world but not getting the thanks they deserve, people being people which includes being horrible but also nice, and the very important fact that Thinking Is Best, and the writing is as superb as ever. It's the Thinking Is Best part of this book that made me, er, think. Messy, but you get what I mean. It's logical and reflects my world view more than most people do. Staring at beautiful flowers is all very well, but the world goes on. Things happen, the world goes on. Things need to be done. "No human could live like this. You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn't get the milking done. No wonder we dream our way through our lives. To be awake, and see it all as it really is... no one could stand that for long." There is little to say against this book, except it didn't give me five-star feeling. Stupid to say, since it gave me the warm fuzzy feeling and the little grin to myself, but it had moments of... childishness, I think. The Wee Free Men are great, but maybe a little too Scottish sometimes. Small elements of the plot didn't work for me, but they added to the overall atmosphere anyway. But the most important thing here is that Tiffany Aching is one of the best female characters you can find in any book anywhere. Granny Weatherwax is the epitome, but since she only had a small cameo-fantastic as it was-it barely counts. PTerry can write women so well, it baffles me that no-one cares all that much. It's a great celebration of a young girl finding who she is, and actually accepting her own flaws but trying to find the good in them. "Yes," said a voice, and Tiffany realised that it was hers again. The anger rose up joyfully. "Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!" And she didn't fall in love once! Not once. She's 9, for crying out loud.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lightreads

    Young sheep farmer's daughter begins training to be the witch of the chalk hills that she loves. She has the help of a lot of six-inch fairies with drinking problems and pointy swords, which is good because there's no school for learning witchery, unless you think of the whole world as the school. Oh, marvelous. I read the three published books straight through everywhere I went, and I know I disturbed people by standing there beaming in the elevator. There may also have been bouncing. These books Young sheep farmer's daughter begins training to be the witch of the chalk hills that she loves. She has the help of a lot of six-inch fairies with drinking problems and pointy swords, which is good because there's no school for learning witchery, unless you think of the whole world as the school. Oh, marvelous. I read the three published books straight through everywhere I went, and I know I disturbed people by standing there beaming in the elevator. There may also have been bouncing. These books! Hilarious, of course, as well they should be. But also rich and scary and sad. People die in these books, and children are faced with truths they shouldn't be, but it's all still fundamentally hopeful. But the thing I like the most is the magic. There is magic, you see, but that's not really what witching is about. Witching is about women, women being so smart and relying on each other and being midwives and caregivers and judges and priests and anything else that's needed. These are books about growing into power that are about the growing, not the power, which is so rare. So many fantasy books use magic as a shorthand for power – these books are about how they overlap, yes, but how they really aren't the same thing at all. *happy sigh*

  13. 3 out of 5

    Cphe

    This was a book club read. I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett before and the novel certainly wasn't a genre that I've read a lot in. I enjoyed the world building that the author introduced and the delivery of the story. It was fast paced. I felt at heart that it was an adventure, a story of the "little guy" taking on the "big bad meanie" and triumphing against overwhelming odds. It's a theme that I often look for in the novels I read. In this case it was a nine year old girl called Tiffan This was a book club read. I hadn't read anything by Terry Pratchett before and the novel certainly wasn't a genre that I've read a lot in. I enjoyed the world building that the author introduced and the delivery of the story. It was fast paced. I felt at heart that it was an adventure, a story of the "little guy" taking on the "big bad meanie" and triumphing against overwhelming odds. It's a theme that I often look for in the novels I read. In this case it was a nine year old girl called Tiffany Aching. The characters overall were well presented, it was the little brother William who I found to be overly irritating though. I think that my favourite character overall was Miss Tick.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    How can something be so funny, and at the same time so serious and deep? The whole story and Tiffany herself. She is so earnest, never surprised by the oddest things - wee free men popping up, witches and monsters appearing, the world needing to be saved…she takes all that in her stride. She questions things other people, even adults, take on face value, and she THINKS. About things in general, and also about her own thoughts and reactions. “Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up th How can something be so funny, and at the same time so serious and deep? The whole story and Tiffany herself. She is so earnest, never surprised by the oddest things - wee free men popping up, witches and monsters appearing, the world needing to be saved…she takes all that in her stride. She questions things other people, even adults, take on face value, and she THINKS. About things in general, and also about her own thoughts and reactions. “Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!” Tiffany learned from her grandmother that she has to protect those who cannot protect themselves: “Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices." And she takes that responsibility seriously: “Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.” “Why?” “There’s no one to stop them.” There was silence for a moment. “There’s me,” said Tiffany. The Nac Mac Feegle, or wee free men, on the other hand, rarely think, they fight, steal and drink (not necessarily in that order). And they are hilarious! “Whut's the plan, Rob?" said one of them. "Okay, lads, this is what we'll do. As soon as we see somethin', we'll attack it. Right?" This caused a cheer. "Ach, 'tis a good plan," said Daft Wullie.”

  15. 3 out of 5

    Jo

    OK, I’m going to start this review with some maths. No! Wait, don’t go. It’s going to be YA style maths and, well, it’s me… so it’ll be dead easy. Though before we begin, you can leave your payment in the basket just over there. Not vegetables. I want chocolate. Not got any? No worries…I’ll wait until you come back from the paper shop*. Back? Right: Hermione Granger + Mildred Hubble + Matilda Wormwood = Tiffany Aching. I’m almost tempted to just leave this review at that because, honestly, if you’re OK, I’m going to start this review with some maths. No! Wait, don’t go. It’s going to be YA style maths and, well, it’s me… so it’ll be dead easy. Though before we begin, you can leave your payment in the basket just over there. Not vegetables. I want chocolate. Not got any? No worries…I’ll wait until you come back from the paper shop*. Back? Right: Hermione Granger + Mildred Hubble + Matilda Wormwood = Tiffany Aching. I’m almost tempted to just leave this review at that because, honestly, if you’re not intrigued by that equation then I can’t recommend this book to you. Also, I can’t save your soul from eternal damnation. I’M KIDDING. Ish. But I won’t stop there because I like the sound of my voice or, you know, I like to see my typed words on a computer screen. I.loved.this.book. I have always said that when I’m rich and famous, I’m going to rent out a cottage in the middle of nowhere armed only with food, wine and Discworld books and just spend a week reading every single one of them from start to finish**. I’ve read a few of them (five, I think) and enjoyed them immensely but I think they are the kind of book you just need to immerse yourself in. And Discworld is so impeccably created that it’s the kind of world you need to spend a lot of time in, exploring it and learning its quirks and getting lost and finding your way out again. It probably helps if you’re slightly tipsy. Even though Tiffany Aching’s adventures are set in Discworld and I understand they have a lot of overlapping characters, I believe that this could count as a standalone series. If you’ve read Discworld books before, you might get more of the jokes that have gone over my head but I honestly don’t think you’d need to have read any of them to get this story. Actually, these books may be a great place to start. Sir Pratchett gives you just enough details about the setting to make sure you don’t get lost and I love that about him. I always think that Sir Pratchett has so many more ideas about the world that he keeps to himself so we as a reader only get to see about 75%  of what he has created. And I just love that restraint… because there would be nothing worse than if he was like ‘HAVE ALL THE DETAILS. MY IMAGINATION IS AMAZING. LOOK. LOOK. LOOK HOW BRILIANT I AM. YOU’RE NOT LOOKING AT THE BRILLIANCE. Because if you read a book like that you’d just get a headache and you’d probably need to lie down with a wet paper towel on your forehead. I just like the fact that even though he doesn’t share all the details, you know he's thought of everything and he's probably hiding them in his hat. I like to think that a Pratchett book is the reading equivalent of colouring in. Bear with me… His mind has created the most breathtakingly brilliant pictures, one that will take you a whole miserable Sunday afternoon to colour in because of all the rich detail and the intricacy. And then he just leaves a packet of pencil crayons on the table next to you and lets you go wild with it. You have free reign in Discworld and you’re encouraged to colour it in with whatever colours you want. As long as they are bright. And he’d probably encourage you to colour out of the lines in certain places too. He strikes me as that kind of guy. Even if you know hardly anything about Sir Pratchett, you will probably be aware that he is funny. Really funny. I made the mistake of reading this book in the presence of other people and found myself having to explain about pointy horses and backwards moving sheep. Needless to say, I got a few blank looks. ”A pointy horse…IT’S HYSTERICAL.” I would yell in their faces. ”A UNICORN IS A HORSE THAT ENDS IN A POINT! ”Why are you shouting?”  They would say, backing away slowly. “BECAUSE IT’S FUNNY!!!!!” “Stop using excessive punctuation.” “NEVER.” Trust me, it’s hysterical. I just love his humour and I lovelovelove the fact that it hasn’t been dumbed down because this book is for… *gasps* *recoils in fear* younger readers. I can’t imagine any Pratchett fan being disappointed in these books. “Are you listening?” “Yes,” said Tiffany. “Good. Now… if you trust in yourself…” “Yes?” “… and believe in you dreams…” “Yes?” “…and follow your star…” Miss Tick went on. “Yes?” “…you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.” LAUGHTER. But let’s talk about the main event: Tiffany. I can’t decide whether I want to be best friends with Tiffany Aching or actually be her when I grow up. She is intuitive, watchful and extremely smart. She’s the kind of girl who reads fairy tales but doesn’t want to be the princess, she wants to be the witch because “where’s the evidence” that they’re all wicked? I can’t put into (um..intelligent) words how much I loved her so I’m going to give you an example of her brilliance: “…did the book have any adventures for people who had brown eyes and brown hair? No, no, no… it was blond people with blue eyes and the redheads with green eyes who got the stories. If you had brown hair you were probably just a servant or a woodcutter or something. Or a dairymaid. Well, that was not going to happen, even if she was good at cheese. She couldn’t be the prince, and she’d never be a princess, and she didn’t want to be a woodcutter, so she’d be the witch and know things…” LOVE.HER. LOVE.THIS.BOOK. IT.MAKES.ME.TYPE.IN.BIZARRE.WAYS. READ.IT. *OK, I have just realised that this review will probably make no sense to people who haven’t read this book. But that’s not my fault. It’s clearly yours. So go and read it and then come back and tell me how brilliant and ingenious this review is. And…. ok, I guess the book is. **Well, ok… I’ll spend the first day trying to decide which order to read them in. You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Eirini Proikaki

    Ένα απο τα πιο διασκεδαστικά βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει.Απολαυστικό,γεμάτο χιούμορ και έξυπνες ατάκες.Γέλασα με τα κατορθώματα των Νακ Μακ Φιγκλ και αγάπησα την Τίφανι που κατατροπώνει τέρατα με το τηγάνι της και το μυαλό της. Θα το πρότεινα σε όσους έχουν παιδιά γιατί είναι ένα απο τα καλύτερα βιβλία του είδους που έχω διαβάσει αλλά είδα δυστυχώς οτι είναι εξαντλημένο.

  17. 4 out of 5

    TheBookSmugglers

    I will start this post with another Old School Wednesdays’ confession: I only ever read one Terry Pratchett novel, Good Omens ages ago and that was only because he wrote that in collaboration with Neil Gaiman. I know what you’re thinking right now: “CRIVENS! I can’t believe you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett till now, Ana.” I KNOW, right? Anyway, the real problem with this course of action was of course, WHERE to start, given as how Pratchett has over 40 novels in the Discworld series alone. I h I will start this post with another Old School Wednesdays’ confession: I only ever read one Terry Pratchett novel, Good Omens ages ago and that was only because he wrote that in collaboration with Neil Gaiman. I know what you’re thinking right now: “CRIVENS! I can’t believe you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett till now, Ana.” I KNOW, right? Anyway, the real problem with this course of action was of course, WHERE to start, given as how Pratchett has over 40 novels in the Discworld series alone. I had on good authority that even though The Wee Free Men is Discworld book #30, it was a good place to begin as part of a four-book YA mini-series featuring 9-year-old Tiffany Aching. Tiffany is – as of this book – the current recipient of the newly-minted The Book Smugglers Award for Best Witch-To-Be on account of her perspicacity, courage, love for words, pride on her cheese-making skills as well as the ability to stand impervious and mostly unaffected by condescending adults, evil Queens, talking frogs and diminutive and outrageous, thievery blue men in kilts (otherwise known as Nac Mac Feegle or Pictsies [not to be confused with Pixies, if you please] or the Wee Free Men). This is the plot and Tiffany’s personality in a nutshell: ”Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.” “Why?” said Tiffany. “There’s no one to stop them.” There was silence for a moment. Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.” So! Armed with a frying pan (as we all know, a perfectly good weapon of choice as evidenced in Tangled), common sense, the memories of her Granny Aching, and an inordinate amount of Chutzpah, Tifanny embarks on a journey to Fairyland to save her kidnapped brother (whom she says she doesn’t really like all that much but he is hers and as such, she must get him back). And although ok, that setup is not necessarily unique, boy did I love this book. I loved Tiffany’s journey to Fairyland, as the two worlds collide and dreams and nightmares become intertwined with the real world and how the narrative itself seamlessly adapted to the ever-changing landscape that really reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ storytelling as well as Catherynne M. Valente’s recent Fairyland books. This ever-changing background and the stories-within-stories conceit also appears as Tiffany’s memories of her grandmother become clearer and clearer as she finally comes to understand what the stories about her really mean. The writing is just the type of writing that I love. It’s clever, it’s subtle, it presents valuable, meaningful themes and ideas without being didactic or dumbed down to readers, it has an amazingly clever and astute protagonist and on top of everything it.Is.Hilarious. The portrayal of the Wee Free Men is ostensibly funny (they are afraid of nothing! Except maybe of lawyers!) but the sense of humour is present in everything even when the text is discussing Important Things. Allow me to present a few choice quotes to better establish the above: “All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!” (I absolutely loved how the above quote both reinforces Tiffany’s age and how children can be selfish and self-centred without portraying those as bad things) “ “Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!” (How empowering is this?) “The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you have no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch. If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince”… was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long”… well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories don’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told…” (To sum up: Tiffany wants to be a witch because there is a lack of actual evidence that they are actually wicked) “ “Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it.” “No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.” (ha!) And finally, what might just be my favourite quote of the entire book: Are you listening?” “Yes,” said Tiffany. “Good. Now… if you trust in yourself…” “Yes?” “… and believe in you dreams…” “Yes?” “…and follow your star…” Miss Tick went on. “Yes?” “…you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.” Basically I spent my time reading The Wee Free Men by alternating between laughing my head off and earmarking thoughtful sequences. I’ve already made arrangements to get my grabby hands on the sequels. And maybe even other Terry Pratchett books (I hear Nation is most excellent). I am loving these Old School Wednesdays discoveries!

  18. 3 out of 5

    Clouds

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS Y-A list. I think I’ll always have a soft-spot for imaginative young-adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci-Fi winners, I’ll trust them to single out some special y-a books too. A toast from Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS Y-A list. I think I’ll always have a soft-spot for imaginative young-adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci-Fi winners, I’ll trust them to single out some special y-a books too. A toast from Rob Anybody: Ack! Crivens! What a bonnie wee hag, our wee hag is! Terry Pratchett is the finest gonnagle this side of the chalk, ye ken? For a bigjob, as that. He’s got the knowing of the plot-weaving, and the unner-standin’ of the free dimensional characters. An tha’s a fine thing too, ‘cos them character dimensions d’nae be coming cheap! He knows his ups from his downs, his coos from his ships, and his hags from his quins, good an proper. An he give us all some licker, in silver thimbles too, like a real, right polite nob. We Nac Mac Feegle ain’t known for our way with words – unless them words be fighting, stealing and drinking – but there are two ver’rae important words the kelda made me promise to remember if anyone ever asked about this book tha’ bigjob Terry has writ about our very own hag of the hills. It’s a kind of geas, ye ken? Ver’rae important. Those words be: REED IT. Now, if ye dirty, great scunners are done – I’ll be getting back to the shindig. Thanks, Rob. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Pratchett is the King – as y’all should know by now. He is my Mr Reliable, and I’m kicking myself that I ever doubted it. For some reason, I thought I didn’t like this book. I know I started it, back in my student days, but I didn’t finish it. I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t finish the book, but for now let’s chalk it down to some kind of debauched, hedonistic rampage (involving drugs, sex, rock’n’roll and rhinos) – but the upshot was an assumption (and you know what they say about those). I assumed that if I didn’t finish it, it can’t have been all that good. Yes, I know, I’m dumber that Daft Wullie – no need to point it out. When I finished my Locus Sci-Fi quest and decided to spread my wings, I took the Locus YA award into the fold. There were three Tiffany Aching books on this list – and I made number four an honorary member of the list ‘cos I’m a completionist like that. I wasn’t that excited about them due to the aforementioned daftness, so I started with Wintersmith , book three in the series, because I happened to already own it. And y’know what, it’s great! But that’s a different review. My point is... aw shucks, I have no idea any more! The Wee Free Men is excellent, through and through. Tiffany Aching is a great addition to the Discworld family and arguably the strongest stand-alone hero Sir Terry has ever created. She certainly puts Rincewind to shame! She’s the heir to Granny Weatherwax, except she’s got a gang of mental fairies for a sidekick, instead of Nanny Ogg. She’s tough, smart, grounded and curious – everything an independent young heroine should be. And she knows that life ain’t like the storybooks, even when it seems like you’re in one (did anyone else smell metafic in the air?). The story itself is really good – going on a quest into fairyland to rescue the Baron’s son – executed with the trademark flair, profundity and genre satire we’ve come to expect from the great man. So why didn’t it get 5 stars? Gee, I’m not really sure. It certainly wasn’t miles away. Star ratings are always a gut reaction from me, and this is a solid 4-star. I can't point to any flaws, it just didn't give me that plastered-on grin that 5-star should. After this I read: A Hat Full of Sky

  19. 3 out of 5

    YouKneeK

    The Wee Free Men is the first book in the Tiffany Aching subseries of Discworld. Calling it “young adult” might be a stretch since the protagonist is nine and I thought the story seemed suitable for a younger audience. On the other hand, as with many children protagonists, she probably behaved as if she were older than a typical nine-year-old. In any case, the story was entertaining enough for an adult to enjoy and I did enjoy it quite a bit. The story is set in a small farming community, where w The Wee Free Men is the first book in the Tiffany Aching subseries of Discworld. Calling it “young adult” might be a stretch since the protagonist is nine and I thought the story seemed suitable for a younger audience. On the other hand, as with many children protagonists, she probably behaved as if she were older than a typical nine-year-old. In any case, the story was entertaining enough for an adult to enjoy and I did enjoy it quite a bit. The story is set in a small farming community, where witchcraft is frowned upon. Tiffany, whose late grandmother was possibly a witch, seems to have some skills in that area herself. Those skills are put to the test when creatures from another world start showing up near Tiffany’s home. Without any other witches living nearby, she must try to deal with things herself until more experienced witches can arrive. Fortunately, she does have a ‘little’ help in the meantime. Tiffany Aching is a good character, easy to sympathize with and root for. I also really enjoyed the Nac Mac Feegles who are the “Wee Free Men” referenced in the title. They, and to some extent the talking toad, were a lot of fun. There wasn’t as much satire and puns in this book, but it did have some light humor.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    It is a just a tiny review for this one as sadly I did not enjoy my first try of one of Terry Pratchett's books. I did not gel with the writing style. The style was actually quite similar to that of Neil Gaiman's books and so unsurprisingly I had the same issues. The story itself was too ridiculous to take seriously and I felt like the characters were just inconsequential mouthpieces for the author to crack some jokes and offer a few witty insights on society. Now admittedly I liked the general It is a just a tiny review for this one as sadly I did not enjoy my first try of one of Terry Pratchett's books. I did not gel with the writing style. The style was actually quite similar to that of Neil Gaiman's books and so unsurprisingly I had the same issues. The story itself was too ridiculous to take seriously and I felt like the characters were just inconsequential mouthpieces for the author to crack some jokes and offer a few witty insights on society. Now admittedly I liked the general message and even laughed at the odd joke or witticism. The problem was that since the story and the characters were not taken very seriously by the author it was impossible for me to care about the happenings or become invested in the characters. Rating: 2.5 stars Audio Note: Stephen Briggs is a competent narrator who did a good job with the various voices and accents. That said, I was not a giant fan of the audio version as I've never been a fan of regional British accents.

  21. 4 out of 5

    José

    Pueden leer esta y otras reseñas en mi blog: click aquí Los Pequeños Hombres Libres es el primer libro de la saga juvenil de Mundodisco protagonizada por Tiffany Dolorido, una niña de nueve años que desea convertirse en bruja. Uno pensaría que aspirar a ser bruja no es un objetivo muy noble, pero como sucede con muchas cosas del universo de Pratchett, las brujas no son malas, sino que son incomprendidas por usar el sentido común. Desde el momento en que es presentada, Tiffany demuestra ser una Pueden leer esta y otras reseñas en mi blog: click aquí Los Pequeños Hombres Libres es el primer libro de la saga juvenil de Mundodisco protagonizada por Tiffany Dolorido, una niña de nueve años que desea convertirse en bruja. Uno pensaría que aspirar a ser bruja no es un objetivo muy noble, pero como sucede con muchas cosas del universo de Pratchett, las brujas no son malas, sino que son incomprendidas por usar el sentido común. Desde el momento en que es presentada, Tiffany demuestra ser una niña muy observadora y atenta, cualidades que la hacen sobresalir entre los ciudadanos brutos de su pueblo y que la convierten en una excelente candidata a bruja. La aventura comienza cuando una malvada hada madrina secuestra al hermano de Tiffany (porque no se puede confiar en gente que anda volando por ahí cumpliendo deseos gratuitamente). De esta forma Tiffany emprende un peligroso viaje al mundo de las hadas donde los sueños (y sobre todo las pesadillas) se hacen realidad. A pesar de que es un libro pensado para un público más joven, el estilo de Pratchett es idéntico al de sus novelas para adultos. La acidez y la sátira están presentes, y además hay algunos chistes con doble sentido para los más grandes; la única diferencia con las novelas para adultos de Mundodiso es la falta de chistes subidos de tono. Como suele ocurrir con los personajes de Terry Pratchett, todos están muy bien pensados y son extremadamente divertidos, pues parodian personajes tradicionales de los cuentos de hadas y de las novelas de fantasía. Tiffany critica constantemente la forma en la que suelen actuar los niños en los cuentos de hadas y encuentra salidas muy ingeniosas a muchos de los peligros que encuentra durante su aventura. Sin embargo, mis personajes favoritos fueron quienes dan el nombre a la novela: Los Pequeños Hombres Libres. Se trata de los Nac Mac Feegle, un clan de hombrecillos diminutos con pésimo carácter, que son famosos por robar, beber, pelear y por robar, beber y pelear. Terry Pratchett en una entrevista describió a los Feegle como lo que sucedería si los Pitufos hubiesen visto la película Corazón Valiente demasiadas veces: un grupo de pequeños hombres azules con acento escocés y ganas de pelear todo el tiempo. Considero que Los pequeños hombres libres puede ser una excelente novela para conocer Mundodisco, pues es más ligera que otros libros de la saga y porque puede leerse intercalada con la saga de las brujas (puedes consultar cuáles son los libros de las brujas en la sección Mundodisco). Como complemento de este libro, recomiendo leer Ritos Iguales porque en él aparecen las demás brujas que enseñarán a Tiffany el oficio y además porque explica la magia tan particular que hacen las brujas: una magia basada en la "cabezología", básicamente usar el sentido común y la perspicacia para explicar cosas que la gente normal pasa por alto. “Lo que pasa es que la brujería no es como ir a la escuela. Primero apruebas el examen y después te pasas muchos años intentando averiguar cómo lo aprobaste. En ese sentido, es similar a la vida.” Como ya es costumbre en mis reseñas sobre Mundodisco, no voy a calificar el libro porque todo lo que escribió Pratchett me parece maravilloso así es, soy un fanboy. Insisto en que Los Pequeños Hombres Libres es un libro divertidísimo con un mensaje muy lindo escondido detrás de las risas (al igual que todos los libros de Mundodisco). Puede ser un buen libro para empezar a leer la saga y también para recomendarle a lectores más jóvenes que quieran empezar a leer libros de fantasía.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Steven Harbin

    I’m presently about half way through reading this marvelous little book. People have been recommending Mr. Pratchett’s work to me for years, and I must say that I’m sorry I took so long to finally start one of his books. I did read Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch a while back, which he co-authored with Neil Gaiman, and that book was excellent, but I was going through my NG phase at the time, and moved on to several of Gaiman’s books after reading GO. In retrosp I’m presently about half way through reading this marvelous little book. People have been recommending Mr. Pratchett’s work to me for years, and I must say that I’m sorry I took so long to finally start one of his books. I did read Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch a while back, which he co-authored with Neil Gaiman, and that book was excellent, but I was going through my NG phase at the time, and moved on to several of Gaiman’s books after reading GO. In retrospect, I should have pulled a TP novel into the mix at the time, but I am happy to be reading this one now. A “book friend” on the social network site Goodreads.com recommended TWFM to me and I must say, she was spot on regarding it. I started just this week and am already to page 158, which is pretty fast reading for me. The story of young witch-in-the-making Tiffany Aching and her allies, the Nac Mac Feegle (otherwise known as “The Wee Free Men” – think 6 inch high tattooed blue guys who could give the Fremen of Arrakis a run for their money in a fight) and her familiar on loan, a toad who seems to have been a lawyer who helped folks find grounds to sue in a previous life, and their quest to rescue Tiffany’s bothersome little brother from the Queen of Fairyland has been quite entertaining so far, and I’m looking forward to finishing it and checking out some of the other books in the series. I’ll give a full review after I finish it. After finishing this book, I'm a confirmed fan of Tiffany Aching, Terry Pratt, and Discworld. It was a good book to start reading the series, even though it is a young adult novel. Pratchett's sense of humor shines throughout, but at the same time there are definite serious things about this novel, for both young readers and older readers to ponder. Choices, what's real and what's important, all these things are explored by the main characters. I'm looking forward to more novels in the series, and I recommedn it to anyone who loves fantasy, young adult literature, humor, adventure, strong female characters and good reads in general.

  23. 3 out of 5

    Carly

    If you haven't read Terry Pratchett, you're missing out--he's one of the most humorous, creative, and profound fantasy writers I've come across. This book is a nice, self-contained story about a young girl, Tiffany Aching, who lives out in the countryside in Pratchett's fantasy world, the Discworld. The story itself is about faeries, but not exactly twinkly sparkly happy faeries. Tiffany Aching is intensely curious and loves to both think and question everything around her, including the simple If you haven't read Terry Pratchett, you're missing out--he's one of the most humorous, creative, and profound fantasy writers I've come across. This book is a nice, self-contained story about a young girl, Tiffany Aching, who lives out in the countryside in Pratchett's fantasy world, the Discworld. The story itself is about faeries, but not exactly twinkly sparkly happy faeries. Tiffany Aching is intensely curious and loves to both think and question everything around her, including the simple fairy stories she has been told. It's an issue that has come up in her village. Ever since the Baron's son disappeared while hunting in the woods, everyone has been (violently) opposed to any form of magic. But Tiffany can't help but wonder: why are the witches considered the evil ones? After all, Hansel and Gretel were busy destroying and vandalizing the poor woman's home, and why would she even have an oven that large? She decides that she wants to be in a fairy tale, but that she wants to be the witch rather than the vapid princess. But even as Tiffany is coming to her own conclusions, she is forced to step up and take action. Something is stirring in the land of fairy. When her rather unloveable baby brother is taken by the Fairy Queen, Tiffany decides to fight back. Armed only with a frying pan (cold iron!) and advised only by a talking toad and a bunch of wode-painted, Scots-speaking, cheerfully homicidal Pictsies who call themselves the Wee Free Men, Tiffany must venture into fairyland, where all her dreams might come true...and would you like to be in a place where your nightmares can become corporeal? The story weaves together elements from old Celtic legends and Scottish folk ballads, most memorably, Tam Lin, The Wee Wee Man, and Childe Roland--especially Tam Lin. Tiffany is a strong, intelligent, and sympathetic lead, and the story itself is the antidote to "believe in true love" or "wish upon a star" style fantasy. To quote the book: "If you trust in yourself...and believe in your dreams...and follow your star...you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.”

  24. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    From the review on my blog: Pratchett takes all sorts of fairy tales and children's stories--including one of my faves, Peter Pan--and mashes them into his own tale about Tiffany, a nine-year-old witch in training. Tiffany is gutsy, smart (she's got First Sight and Second Thoughts; I need to develop both myself!), and ethical. In the same way I wanted to be Jo March when I first read Little Women, I can imagine any girl selecting Tiffany as a role model. Pratchett never writes down to his reader; From the review on my blog: Pratchett takes all sorts of fairy tales and children's stories--including one of my faves, Peter Pan--and mashes them into his own tale about Tiffany, a nine-year-old witch in training. Tiffany is gutsy, smart (she's got First Sight and Second Thoughts; I need to develop both myself!), and ethical. In the same way I wanted to be Jo March when I first read Little Women, I can imagine any girl selecting Tiffany as a role model. Pratchett never writes down to his reader; instead, he seems fascinated by the world he's created, and that fascination comes through to the reader. He loves his characters, and renders them with precision and care. He has created a number of strong females in this book, and lord knows we need more of those in kids' lit. The author's sense of play comes through, and the wisdom he grants Granny Aching informs the novel throughout with such gems as Tiffany's observation that Granny Aching used words "as though they cost money" and Tiff's own realization that "Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!" I don't know about you, but Tiffany's just the sort of girl I wanted to be. And Granny Aching? Well, she's certainly a paragon among women.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    This was marketed as a Discworld novel for 'younger readers,' but I found the story and style to be no more (or less) juvenile than that of any of Pratchett's other books. It's the 30th Discworld book, and the first to feature the character Tiffany Aching (although i was already familiar with her from reading 'Wintersmith' - I've never tried to read Pratchett in order.) Nine-year-old Tiffany's baby brother is kidnapped by the Queen of the Elves - an antagonist who spreads winter where ever she goes. Th This was marketed as a Discworld novel for 'younger readers,' but I found the story and style to be no more (or less) juvenile than that of any of Pratchett's other books. It's the 30th Discworld book, and the first to feature the character Tiffany Aching (although i was already familiar with her from reading 'Wintersmith' - I've never tried to read Pratchett in order.) Nine-year-old Tiffany's baby brother is kidnapped by the Queen of the Elves - an antagonist who spreads winter where ever she goes. The brother, Wentworth, is a pain-in-the-butt, continually sticky brat, but Tiffany is determined to rescue him. It's lucky that Tiffany is the granddaughter of a witch, and definitely has inherited the talent to realize her aspirations of becoming one herself. Also on her side, somewhat mysteriously, she seems to have a horde of miniature Scotmen - the Nac Mac Feegle. Although the premise is certainly not one we've never heard before, the talents of Pratchett make the story both original and hilarious. The tribe of the Nac Mac Feegle (troublemaking Pictsies!) are definitely one of his best inventions.

  26. 3 out of 5

    Wastrel

    One of Pratchett's best-written novels so far: very precisely polished for the most part, and beautiful, elegaic flashbacks. That polish is the novel's flaw as well as its virtue: it felt too controlled, too avuncular, and too simplistic. And for someone re-reading the entire cycle, rather than using this as a starting point, it felt rather too familiar, both in general outline and in terms of the number of recycled jokes. Having said that, it was good enough to make me want to read the other Tiff One of Pratchett's best-written novels so far: very precisely polished for the most part, and beautiful, elegaic flashbacks. That polish is the novel's flaw as well as its virtue: it felt too controlled, too avuncular, and too simplistic. And for someone re-reading the entire cycle, rather than using this as a starting point, it felt rather too familiar, both in general outline and in terms of the number of recycled jokes. Having said that, it was good enough to make me want to read the other Tiffany novels, and the flashback sections were sublime (though perhaps so good that they made me less patient with the more overtly talking-to-child-readers sections, and more uneasy with the tonal whiplash). You can find my full review over on my blog.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minli

    “Yes,” said a voice, and Tiffany realized that it was hers again. The anger rose up, joyfully. “Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!” Tiffany Aching is flipping awesome. The witches are awesome. Terry Pratchett is awesome. And cheese is awesome. I have to say, with a world as vast as Dis “Yes,” said a voice, and Tiffany realized that it was hers again. The anger rose up, joyfully. “Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!” Tiffany Aching is flipping awesome. The witches are awesome. Terry Pratchett is awesome. And cheese is awesome. I have to say, with a world as vast as Discworld, it was really important for me to pick the right book to start. (This was my first Discworld book.) With so much variety, I imagine some books fit to individual tastes more than others, and The Wee Free Men was the right one for me. One, it's young adult, two, it's narrow enough to focus the world building on one character, and three, Tiffany Aching is flipping awesome. Pratchett has taken some of my favourite topics and crafted a tight, beautiful narrative. I love how he emphasizes Tiffany's particularity for words and language (she reads the dictionary, and she mispronounces words often, because she's only read them and hasn't had a chance to say them out loud). And how language is, in a sense, an instantiation of reality--which draws several parallels to imagination and storytelling. What is real? What is imagination? What's the difference? What role do humans play in it? I hear that Pratchett is known for his parody, and there's plenty of that too. He playfully pokes at fairytale tropes, but also makes it a significant part of Tiffany's character development. Stories are just words, crafted by language, and subjective to the teller. Tiffany learns a lot about witches (both Discworld witches and the fairytale reputation of witches) and perception. She's able to see the world as is, and think about it afterwards--First Sight and Second Thoughts--but she's also learned that reality and imagination will always be connected, and both are shaped by the individual: her. I also loved the Nac Mac Feegle and their flyaway bits of wisdom, especially about magic. And how just because Tiffany found out how 'magic' worked, or fooled other people into thinking she could do magic, doesn't make the deed any less magical. “Ah, weel,” said Rob Anybody. “What’s magic, eh? Just wavin’ a stick an’ sayin’ a few wee magical words.An’ what’s so clever aboot that, eh? But lookin’ at things, really lookin’ at ’em, and then workin’ ’em oout, now, that’s a real skill.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    I love love love Terry Pratchett, but I had never picked up his YA series. After he passed, I had a chance to grab the very last one as a special edition which was an easy decision since it was the last Discworld book I'll ever buy; new, anyway. Whew I still don't like typing those words. =( As always, Terry Pratchett wrote amazing characters. Tiffany is great. She's clever and confident; basically everything I wish young girls wanted to be rather than worrying about makeup and boys much too earl I love love love Terry Pratchett, but I had never picked up his YA series. After he passed, I had a chance to grab the very last one as a special edition which was an easy decision since it was the last Discworld book I'll ever buy; new, anyway. Whew I still don't like typing those words. =( As always, Terry Pratchett wrote amazing characters. Tiffany is great. She's clever and confident; basically everything I wish young girls wanted to be rather than worrying about makeup and boys much too early. I wish I had this book growing up but at least I can gift a copy to my nieces when they're older. The Nac Mac Feegles are also excellent. Their beginning scenes especially had me cracking up. It's amazing how Pratchett can craft a personality as a group and yet there are personalities within the group to create individuals. The man was a master with characters you're able to connect with and layering deep meaning into their experiences. I didn't especially latch onto the story when it became the showdown with the Queen. It wasn't terrible, but felt a little drawn out and watered down. I'm not sure really what I was expecting, and after lauding Pratchett's characters, I might have to say the Queen felt a tad weak. I just wasn't really sure of her place in the story except the need to have a villain. A lovely quick read, however, and it kept me entertained on the airplane which is most important since I hate flying. I'll be adding the rest of this series to my TBR pile and dreading the day I finish the last Discworld.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Paul

    Previously a 4 star but upped it on a reread due to realising its true brilliance. Nac Mac feegle are a great concept and so well done. All around great fun . And Tiffany is just great. A confident and hard working young girl who does difficult things because someone has to. Inspirational and a much better book role model than a lot of the simpering lovelorn idiots peppered throughout YA fiction. Show Tiffany a glittery vampire she will most likely knock it out cold with her trusty frying pan bef Previously a 4 star but upped it on a reread due to realising its true brilliance. Nac Mac feegle are a great concept and so well done. All around great fun . And Tiffany is just great. A confident and hard working young girl who does difficult things because someone has to. Inspirational and a much better book role model than a lot of the simpering lovelorn idiots peppered throughout YA fiction. Show Tiffany a glittery vampire she will most likely knock it out cold with her trusty frying pan before heading home to make butter. Truly much more inspirational .

  30. 5 out of 5

    Trelawn

    Closer to 3.5 stars. I really liked the characters. Tiffany is a really likeable character, not too perfect but not stupid either. I could read about the Nac Mac Feegle all day long. They are hilarious and brave and a little mad. The story itself didn't grab me. The two or three chapters towards the end with the Queen just dragged a little. That said, there is more than enough here for me to keep going with the series and find out what else Tiffany gets up to.

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