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Terry Pratchett – The Wee Free Men

July 17, 2008

89. The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (2003)
Discworld, Book 30; Tiffany Aching, Book 1

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.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Feegle Free Fall

Other Reviews: A Chain of Letters, Adventures in Reading, Outside of a Dog, Bookslut, Books for Ears, Read This!

First Line: Some things start before other things.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2008 10:31 am

    Have you read any of his adult books? Have you visited Disc World? I think that’s why so many of us “slaver”. Of course, it’s typical of English/Celtic humor. You love it and can’t get enough; or you hate it and think we’re all nuts. Which we probably are…
    That being said, I’m going to read this one, as I’ve not read any of his young adult books.

  2. July 17, 2008 10:37 am

    Linda – The only one of his adult Discworld books I’ve read is The Light Fantastic, which as I understand it is not one of his better ones. Where would you recommend I start?

  3. July 17, 2008 12:30 pm

    I confess: I’m addicted to Pratchett. My first book was Small Gods, one of the “stand alone” novels of his Discworld books, and from there I moved on to his “witches” books. Light Fantastic and Colour of Magic are both excellent books in the vein of prodding fun at Conan-esque fantasy, but definitely not Pratchett’s best.

  4. July 17, 2008 12:42 pm

    bookchronicle – I think one of my housemates has Small Gods; I should see if I can lay hands on it before she moves out.

  5. July 17, 2008 5:12 pm

    Yah, getting into Pratchett is a real blast. Personally, I think Light Fantastic is a great place to start, since it’s the first book. And they just turned it into a movie (it was okay).

    Personally, I read all of them in order of publication. You really start to appreciate how the discworld expands. While you can also read each mini-series on it’s own, it’s harder to organize how you’re going to progress.

    Either way, enjoy the disc! Pratchett is one of the best satirists modern literature has to offer.

  6. Prinia permalink
    November 26, 2008 5:37 pm

    I was lucky enough to start with (a long lost one now, unfortunately) his book that actually describes the making of a planet (far, far in the future, when the planet makers are getting bored, and throwing in in the odd advanced timepiece together with dinosaurs) very similar to Discworld.

    I am totally enamoured of Guards, Guards and the books in which they feature. They led me to the Witches books featuring Nanny Ogg, Magret and Esmeralda. His characters, quirky wit and ability to throw me off balance every now and then are what, I believe, continue to draw me.


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