The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
book, review, discworld
This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
I was apprehensive picking The Wee Free Men up. It is the first book in a brand new sub-series (Tiffany Aching). A series that also contains the last Discworld novel Terry Pratchett had written.
And it’s about a 9-year-old girl. It’s a children’s book.
I didn’t think I’d like it very much and yet I knew that’s where the majority of the remaining Diskworld backlog lies.
Thankfully, it’s wonderful. The eponymous Tiffany very much wants to be a witch, like her recently-departed grandmother. Which is curious given that witches are banned on the Chalk where she lives.
But she sees things differently than other kids and even adults do — she sees what’s really there. And what’s there are monsters, Fairies (the cruel, kidnapping kind) and Nac Mac Feegles — a horde of small blue-skinned red-haired men who love nothing more than to fight and drink and steal. And who sound distinctly Scottish.
When Tiffany’s spoiled younger brother Wentworth (she’s the second youngest of many) disappears (kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies) she goes to get him back, because while the boy is absolutely insufferable, it’s her brother. And being the new "hag" the Feegles help her, because you’ve got to listen to the Hag!
Tiffany, while being a young girl, is clearly older and wiser than her age would suggest and exhibits many qualities of an adult. This would normally be a narrative flaw (the author projecting themselves into a child), but she is a witch. And in a very real sense, witches are the only adults on Discworld.
And the book just flows really well! The Feegles are funny, the fairies scary, the adults blind and the memories of the old Granny Aching painful, but warm.
It loses steam a little bit towards the end, deep inside the Fairie land, but I’ve had a lot of fun reading it. Love all the characters (especially No'-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock whose name is delightfully always written out in full) and can’t wait for the next installments!