Tiffany Aching is a young witch-in-the-making on the DISCWORLD, Terry Pratchett’s flat world which is carried along by four giant elephants who ride on the back of the Great Star Turtle A’Tuin. Tiffany’s young brother has been kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies. In her quest to save him, Tiffany ends up with some odd allies. The Nac Mac Feegle (six-inch-high tattooed blue guys who self-style themselves as “The Wee Free Men,” and who could give the Fremen of Arrakis from Frank Herbert ’s Dune a run for their money in a fight) are with her in her quest, along with her familiar on loan, a toad who, in a previous life, seems to have been a lawyer who helped folks find grounds to sue. Tiffany’s adventure while trying to rescue her bothersome little brother from Fairyland (which is not a particularly enchanting or safe place) is quite an entertaining young adult story that will appeal to older readers too.
Terry Pratchett is a master of subtle humorous writing and satire; he has said he idolizes P. G. Wodehouse, the British humorist, and it shows. Pratchett’s sense of humor shines throughout The Wee Free Men, but there are also serious undertones for both younger and older readers to ponder in the context of Tiffany’s adventure — characters have hard choices to make and must deal with the consequences of these choices, and they must consider which things in life are truly valuable, real and important.
This marvelous little book was the first DISCWORLD novel I ever read and I fell in love with the denizens of Discworld about half way through reading The Wee Free Men. Friends had been recommending Mr. Pratchett’s work to me for years, and I must say that I’m sorry I took as long as I did to start reading his books. Once I read The Wee Free Men though, I had to read more DISCWORLD!
The Wee Free Men is the 30th book in the series (39 novels have been published as of 2012, along with some short stories and numerous miscellany, such as cookbooks and “Science of Discworld” books, to name just a few) and though it’s probably best to read the series in something close to the publication order, it wasn’t necessary in this case and I had no problem going back to the earlier books later.
I recommend The Wee Free Men to anyone who loves fantasy, young adult literature, humor, adventure, strong female characters and good reads in general.