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The Wee Free Men

Terry Pratchett

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (2 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Doubleday

Published : 2003

Copyright : Terry & Lyn Pratchett 2003

ISBN-10 : HB 0-385-60533-1
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-385-60533-5

Publisher's Write-Up

There's trouble on the Aching farm - a monster in the river, a headless horseman in the driveway and nightmares spreading down from the hills. And now Tiffany Aching's little brother has been stolen by the Queen of the Fairies (although Tiffany doesn't think this is entirely a bad thing).

Tiffany's got to get him back. To help her, she has a weapon (a frying pan), her granny's magic book (well, Diseases of the Sheep, actually) and -

'Crivens! Whut aboot us, ye daftie!'

- oh, yes. She's also got the Nac Mac Feegle, the Wee Free Men, the fightin', thievin', tiny blue-skinned pictsies who were thrown out of Fairyland for being Drunk and Disorderly...

A wise, witty and wonderfully inventive adventure set in the Discworld.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (270108) Rating (8/10)
Review by Ray (070703) Rating (8/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
The Wee Free Men is the first of a series of books that are suitable for children. It is not fair to say that they are solely children’s books because they read so beautifully whatever age you are.

This series is set on the Discworld, in a rural area called the Downs where Tiffany lives with her family. Tiffany is a seventh daughter and has one younger brother, a sticky child called Wentworth. Anyone with a younger sibling will appreciate the mixture of exasperation and affection that she has for Wentworth and when we first see them together, she uses him as bait to lure a monster from a stream, so she can smack it with a very large frying pan.

Tiffany is nine when we first meet her and sharp as a tack. She is not formally schooled but when the travelling teachers are in the area, she can buy a lesson in any subject offered for the price of an egg or a couple of carrots. After seeing the monster in the stream and a Feegle, she asks Miss Tick, a witch posing as a teacher some questions, and Miss Tick is quite impressed by her reasoning.

According to witch lore, you cannot be a witch if you live on chalk, the geology being too soft, as a witch needs rock beneath her. Fortunately, not knowing this did not stop Tiffany’s Grandmother, although she never called herself a witch, but a shepherd. It would seem that Granny Aching came from the same school of witching as Granny Weatherwax, and approached the subject as a type of headology, after all, as Tiffany points out magic does not stop being magic just because you know how it was done.

The Nac Mac Feegle have been sent to find “the hag”, and despite not being of an age to be a hag, it is she that they are looking for. Then Wentworth is taken by the wicked Queen into her Nightmare version of Fairyland, Tiffany feels that she must find him and bring him back. The Feegles take her to meet their Kelda (a cross between Mother and Headwoman) and they come to an agreement, before setting out with the Feegles to rescue Wentworth.

I really enjoyed this departure into a different side of the Discworld, with new characters and familiar themes. It is typical that TP decides to have a look in his inimitable way at children’s classic fairytales from his own standpoint. I particularly liked that Tiffany measured the oven of the woman accused of being a witch to see if she could really have cooked a boy and a horse the way that people thought she had. She thinks that it was unfair that the old woman in the fairytale was cooked in her own oven because some children came along and ate her house, and when you put it like that, she really does have a point.
Chrissi (27th January 2008)

Review by Ray
Rating 8/10
This book is a second journey for children into the world of the Discworld.

The story revolves around Tiffany who, following in her Granny's footsteps, (quite large probably judging by the boots that she wore) is becoming a witch. Can a witch grow on chalk? Witches say it's impossible but will Tiffany follow her destiny in a bid to save her brother from the wicked Queen and save the Discworld from an influx of the creatures that are invading from Fairyland?

The Nic Mac Feegle are back. They have appeared in previous Discworld novels but here they are fleshed out as the colourful characters they are. They have been expelled from Fairyland for being drunk and disorderly and currently have a tendency to help sheep and cows disappear... usually backwards. They hate lawyers, are afraid of the written word but are a force to be reckoned with and help Tiffany in her bid to rescue her brother.

The 'Wee' men and their antics will make you laugh - out loud in some cases - and Pratchett has created an amusing slant on the old Fairy stories.

I've not been a big fan of the witches in the Discworld series and the three main witches do make an appearance in this book but nevertheless I still enjoyed it and it has probably been the quickest read of a Discworld book I've ever done.

In summary an entertaining story for children… but also for adults who are a fan of the Discworld novels.

It's not one of Pratchett's best but I'm sure he'll make up for it soon enough.
Ray (7th July 2003)

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