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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men (original 2003; edition 2005)

by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs (Narrator)

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7,130144501 (4.2)329
Title:The Wee Free Men
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Other authors:Stephen Briggs (Narrator)
Info:HarperChildren's Audio (2005), Edition: Unabridged, Audio CD
Collections:Your library

Work details

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett (2003)

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The Wee Free Men is the first book in Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series, a YA series that’s sort of a sub-series of the Discworld books. They can be read independently or as an introduction into the larger world.

In the Wee Free Men, Tiffany is a nine year old girl who wants to be a witch. Why does she want to be a witch? Because an old woman who was suspected of being a witch was turned out of her home and died of the cold. Tiffany’s decided that she will be a witch so that this will never happen again. This tells you a lot about the sort of person Tiffany is. She’s brave, compassionate, and intelligent. She read the dictionary cover to cover because no one told her she wasn’t supposed to. If you were to ask me to list my favorite protagonists, Tiffany would probably be near the top of the list.

Tiffany’s younger brother is kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies. Tiffany didn’t particularly love her brother, even though she feels like she should, but he’s hers. And it’s up to her to rescue him, although she has the help of the Nac Mac Feegle, a tribe of boisterous six inch tall blue warriors.

“I know nothing about her. Just some books, and some stories she tried to tell me, and things I didn’t understand, and I remember big red soft hands and that smell. I never knew who she really was. I mean, she must have been nine too, once.”

Interwoven with this story is Tiffany’s memories of her grandmother, Granny Achings, who died around two years ago. Tiffany looked up to her grandmother but felt that she was never quite able to communicate with her. As much as The Wee Free Men is a story about fairies, it is also a story about Tiffany’s loss and grief.

“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

The Wee Free Men is also about Tiffany’s sense of responsibility to her land, the Chalk, and people. Granny Achings was a shepherd of the Chalk in more ways than one. She watched the boundaries and looked after those who had no one else to speak for them. The Wee Free Men is about Tiffany taking this responsibility onto herself.

“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.”

The Wee Free Men is the beginning of Tiffany’s story. The other books follow her as she grows older and accepts ever more responsibility. In short, The Wee Free Men is the start of Tiffany becoming a witch. I think I prefer the later books in the series, but The Wee Free Men is a good beginning.

I would recommend The Wee Free Men to someone looking for YA fantasy with a strong female lead and no romance.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Jul 14, 2015 |
Tiffany Aching has spent her whole life in Chalk, under the wise tutelage of her grandmother, a revered shepherdess and possible witch - so when strange things start happening, Tiffany is determined to protect her home with the help of the Wee Free Men.

Although set in Discworld - and later, familiar faces popping up, such as Granny Weatherwax and everybody's favorite, Death - the Tiffany Aching series was written as young adult. It doesn't quite have the same laugh-out-loud humor as the best of Discworld, but makes up for it with the other things Terry Pratchett does so well (which is, of course, everything).

Tiffany is perfect: precocious, inquisitive, a bit of a know-it-all, and with just enough common sense and petulant child to make her believable. She isn't the Tragic Heroine Who Stands Against All Odds that make up so many young adult novels, or even the Mostly Smart Heroine Because Everyone Says She Is But Someone Manages to Be an Idiot for the Entire Plot that makes up the other ones. She is, instead, a bright kid with a good head on her shoulders, but not a lot of experience.

The Nac Mac Feegles are laugh-out-loud hilarious (based on the Celts, including dying their skin blue with woad, they will pick a fight with anything and anyone and are deeply suspicious of the written word, witches, and lawyers), and the imagination of Pratchett soars. His main gift, however, is by making the plot utterly imaginative and crafting the resolution to make sense within it - which sounds simple enough, or at least something they surely teach writers, but most usually take wild imagination to mean that a completely improbable coincidence will crop up and save the day at the last minute.

If you're a fan of Discworld, you will love it. And if you haven't read Discworld, this will make you want to pick up some more Pratchett. ( )
  kittyjay | Apr 23, 2015 |
Some fun and clever bits, but I just couldn't make myself be a fan of Pratchett's satirical fantasies, even though I really wanted to.... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Steikje, Pratchett er god, og oversetterne er ikke så aller verst de heller. ( )
  pan0ramix | Nov 25, 2014 |
The Wee Free Men is the kind of book that makes writing look like an effortless endeavor. And the ending...well, it was just wonderful.

I read this one aloud to my kids, and it was an absolute delight. My daughter is nine, just like Tiffany, and doesn't need me to read books to her anymore, but I still do because we love sharing stories. My five-year-old loves talking like the Nac Mac Feegle ("Crivens!" he says, innumerable times each day), but it's not clear to me just how much else he got from the story. My daughter, however, laughed along with me at the puns and other fun little jokes with which Pratchett peppers this story and was moved along with me at the moving bits (which I won't detail because I don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say it was more than I expected from a book for young people). Both children were kind enough not to make fun of my version of the Nac Mac Feegle accent.

I'm betting my daughter is going to want to pick up another Discworld book tomorrow...and probably will want to make butter, too. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Nov 6, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bartocci, MaurizioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gall, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kibby, PaulIllustrationssecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidby, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Some things start before other things.
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.
Now ... 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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060012382, Mass Market Paperback)

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching needs magic--fast! Her sticky little brother Wentworth has been spirited away by the evil Queen of faerie, and it’s up to her to get him back safely. Having already decided to grow up to be a witch, now all Tiffany has to do is find her power. But she quickly learns that it’s not all black cats and broomsticks. According to her witchy mentor Miss Tick, "Witches don’t use magic unless they really have to...We do other things. A witch pays attention to everything that’s going on...A witch uses her head...A witch always has a piece of string!" Luckily, besides her trusty string, Tiffany’s also got the Nac Mac Feegles, or the Wee Free Men on her side. Small, blue, and heavily tattooed, the Feegles love nothing more than a good fight except maybe a drop of strong drink! Tiffany, heavily armed with an iron skillet, the feisty Feegles, and a talking toad on loan from Miss Tick, is a formidable adversary. But the Queen has a few tricks of her own, most of them deadly. Tiffany and the Feegles might get more than they bargained for on the flip side of Faerie! Prolific fantasy author Terry Pratchett has served up another delicious helping of his famed Discworld fare. The not-quite-teen set will delight in the Feegles’ spicy, irreverent dialogue and Tiffany’s salty determination. Novices to Pratchett’s prose will find much to like here, and quickly go back to devour the rest of his Discworld offerings. Scrumptiously recommended. (Ages 10 to 14) --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:57 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A young witch-to-be named Tiffany teams up with the Wee Free Men, a clan of six-inch-high blue men, to rescue her baby brother and ward off a sinister invasion from Fairyland.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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