Thursday, 27 March 2008

The Wee Free Men

My first book for Carl's Once Upon a Time II challenge! It's good to have a foot on the first rung of the ladder so to speak and so pleasing that the first book was such a little gem.



The Wee Free Men is the first of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching/Wee Free Men series. It *is* a Discworld book and, a bit like the Sam Vimes books, is a series within a series. I'm sure that's perfectly clear... ;-p

The Aching family have lived on The Chalk for centuries. They're sheep farmers and Tiffany is the youngest daughter. Like Granny Aching before her she's quiet, a thinker, and possibly a little bit of a witch. Down by the river one day Tiffany sees a couple of very small blue men, just before something green and nasty rears out the water. Tiffany goes home to think about this and then comes back and uses her small brother as bait. The monster returns and Tiffany whacks it with her weapon of choice, the frying pan. Miss Tick, an actual witch, is watching from Another Place and is unable to believe her eyes. The Chalk can't breed good witches but it seems it has. Tiffany learns from Miss Tick that her life is in danger from something that is happening in her world and that that 'something' is leaking in from another world. The Wee Free Men are there to help her, not that it's help any normal person would choose, but beggars can't be choosers - not when your younger brother is stolen away and no one else has a clue where to look for him. Things are about to get very sticky indeed...

I can't think why I haven't read this Pratchett series before as I've read so many other Discworld novels. Darla at Books and other thoughts wrote about them recently and I realised they would be perfect for the Once Upon a Time II challenge. I had the sequel, A Hat Full of Sky, but not this first book, so had to borrow it from my daughter. I'm so glad I did. All the wonderful Pratchett humour is here (talking about the travelling teachers):

They went to sleep under the stars, which the maths teachers would count, the astronomy teachers would measure and the literature teachers would name. The geography teachers got lost in the woods and fell into bear traps.

Perhaps the 'geography teacher' thing is a purely British joke - it certainly made me giggle - and I continued to laugh all the way through, cheering Tiffany on and adoring The Wee Free Men and their antics. The ending is wonderful too as two much loved Discworld characters make a brief, but satisfying, appearance. It's no exaggeration to say that I absolutely loved this book and plan to read A Hat Full of Sky straight off and add the third book, Wintersmith, to my list for the challenge.

15 comments:

DesLily said...

hmmm, I've never read this series of books.. and it may well have to wait a bit before I can lol.. but it sounds pretty cute!

Speaking of cutesy-funny... I noted the title of one of your books off to the side and cracked up at the title~! Checked it out in amazon but it's short stories and I'm not a short story reader.... but the title is great! hahahaha (fruiting bodies and other fungi)

Darla D said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it! (That book nervousness thing works both ways.) It is a wonderful, funny series, and even though I have just read the first two, I already know that I will reread them again in the future. Can't wait to hear what you think of A Hat Full of Sky!

Carl V. said...

I hope to get to my first Pratchett during this challenge (I don't count Good Omens). This one sounds really fun.

Nymeth said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. I did too :) It's one of my favourite Discworld books.

Cath said...

The nice thing about the Pratchett books, Pat, is that they are available in hardback, and this particular series, being for children, has larger print.

Heavens, I haven't read Fruiting Bodies and Other Fungi by Brian Lumley in years. It's a *very* good horror anthology though. Perhaps I should reread it if Carl does another RIP challenge in the autumn?

I loved it, Darla. Soooo funny, and just an excellent story. I've already started A Hat Full of Sky and would love to carry on today but we have the grandson on Fridays so reading will have to wait until tonight. And, surprise, surprise... it's *raining*.

I didn't read any Pratchett until about five years ago, Carl. And as I'm now in my mid-fifties that means I resisted him for many, many years! I'll be curious to see which book you choose if you do get around to him.

I think this series will be a big favourite with me too, Nymeth. I'm even wondering if A Hat Full of Sky might be even more fun than The Wee Free Men.

orchidus said...

Ah, I am glad you enjoyed it! Now, you have me looking forward to reading more of Pratchett's books. :] I have only read Going Postal, Small Gods, and Monstrous Regiment. All of which were particularly exciting.

Thanks for sharing! I would love to hear your thoughts on A Hat Full of Sky!

Cath said...

orchidus: I would recommend the Night Watch 'Discworld' series by Pratchett. The first of those is Guards! Guards! and there are about five more. Those are wonderful and there are other excellent ones too such as Lords and Ladies, Carpe Jugulum, The Truth etc.

Debi said...

I have yet to read a Discworld book. Keep meaning to, but never get to it. After reading your review, I know I need to make the time! My daughter has read a few and loved them. In fact, she's getting The Wee Free Men for her birthday next week...think I'll have to borrow it once she's finished :)

Rhinoa said...

This series is on my list for this year. I recently finally got up to date with the adult Discworld books and only have Making Money to read now. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much.

Cath said...

Hi Debi. I didn't start reading Terry Pratchett until about five years ago and it was my daughter who encouraged me to start. Very soon my grandaughter will start to read them, she's a few years younger than your daughter but is a similar voracious reader. So many wonderful books she has ahead of her, I'm quite jealous. :-) And to return to Pratchett, the Night Watch books are my favourites, the first being Guards! Guards! You could do a lot worse than start there.

Rhinoa, I'm not up to date with the adult Pratchetts either and need to catch up. I have a feeling I'll be doing that this year. Not really a hardship... :-)

Framed said...

I listened to this on CD and really enjoyed it. I've bought a few more Pratchett books, (Guards, Guards is one) but haven't got to read them yet.

Cath said...

Framed: Guards! Guards! is an excellent place to start with the Night Watch series from the Discworld universe. Absolutely my favourite Discworld series as I love the crime element.

Rachael said...

I am totally intrigued! I enjoyed your description of Tiffany and the promise of humour is irresistible. Thanks for the review!

Cath said...

Rachael: These books are well worth looking into. The humour in them is so quintesssentially British and the story so full of charm. Great for cheering you up if you've had a bad day.

Quixotic said...

This one is indeed a little gem, perfect description! So glad that you loved these books, they are definite favourites of mine.