Terry Pratchett – The Wee Free Men
Read By: Stephen Briggs
Length: 7h 10m (400 pages)
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Started: 09 July 2008
Finished: 17 July 2008
Summary: Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching is a shepherd’s daughter who has never left the grassy turf of the Chalk that is her home, reads the dictionary, makes cheese, is generally overlooked by her busy parents, and is forced to watch her sticky younger brother who can do nothing but yell for sweeties. Tiffany has also decided that she wants to be a witch. When her brother is kidnapped by the evil Queen of Fairyland, Tiffany must get him back, despite the fact that she doesn’t know any magic, and is armed only with her wits, a frying pan, and her grandmother’s copy of Diseases of the Sheep. But Granny Aching was more than she appeared, and Tiffany will not be going alone – she’ll have the help of the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, a band of rowdy, thieving, drunken, six-inch tall blue Scotsmen.
Review: Before this, I’d only read two of Pratchett’s books (three if you count Good Omens): The Light Fantastic and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, and while I didn’t hate them, I found them to be pretty much “mildly amusing fantasy lite.” There are tons of slavering Pratchett-o-philes out there, so I figured there had to be something I was missing. I think I found that something in The Wee Free Men – I don’t think I’ve made the conversion to Prachett-o-philia, but at least now I kind of get it. The Wee Free Men was charming, funny (laugh-out-loud at times), and had some real heart and emotional depth to it. Tiffany is not only a real heroine, but also a very relatable character, and had I read this when I was younger, I would have recognized myself in her instantly (still did, to be honest). There are parts when the writing slips a little bit – either trying too hard to be witty or trying to hard to impart its moral lesson. I also felt like the tone of the later chapters was a little out of keeping with most of the rest of the book (plus I missed the Feegles, even though I get why Tiffany had to face the Queen alone). Overall, though, I really enjoyed listening to this book – Stephen Briggs did an excellent job with the narration, giving perfect voice to the Feegle’s heavy Scottish dialect. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: A funny, enjoyable read for young adults and adults alike, and a good starting place if you are unfamiliar with (or unenchanted by) the rest of Pratchett’s books.
Links: Feegle Free Fall
First Line: Some things start before other things.