The Wee Free Men My Life | My Reviews 26 SEP 2008

Wee Free MenI used to be a prodigious reader in my youth. I used to devour books, so much so that as a child, the kiddy section in the library simply was not enough to contain my hunger for literary knowledge and I soon moved on to the adult section of the library, polishing off everything in sight. I conquered Lord of the Rings in standard 2 if I remember correctly.

And this would probably explain why I no longer read. At all.

Well, that is not entirely true. I do read once every two years or so (I’m not counting comics and manga because whether you argue with me or not, they really don’t count as real books – Entertainment yes. Literary masterpieces, no) and it is all thanks to one man, the only author who has ever managed to entertain me on a level that no one else seems to be able to match… Mr Terry Pratchett.

I’ve been a fan of his Discworld series since day one and seeing as this master tends to write at least a book or two a year, there’s always an unread title or two laying around for me to pick up whenever the reading bug actually decides to bite me for a change, like now for instance.

The last time I read was back in December 2006 and so it feels fitting that in September 2008 it becomes time to read again – particularly if you consider I picked up three possible book choices already during the year, namely Wintersmith in January and both The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky for my Birthday in May.

Now what I didn’t realize is that all three these books happen to be related and form part of the Tiffany Aching saga, making it all the more delectable because now I’m going to clear up this reading drought by devouring all three at once!

And so it has begun. As I’ve discovered, The Wee Free Free Men is in fact a Discworld novel aimed at aimed at the teen market and as such it has been made ever so slightly more accessible to them, though that said I would never have noticed it unless someone told me (which the Internet duly did).

The story plays out in the Chalklands, where a 9-year-old, precocious thinker, Tiffany Aching discovers that her now diseased grandmother was in fact a witch. A very good and beloved (or should that be feared) witch. Eager to continue in her footsteps (not that she can help it anyway), Tiffany slowly but surely gets acquainted with the land of the fairies as the magical doorways between our two worlds begin to slowly come apart at their seams.

Of course, if by fairies you are thinking of small little children in tutus and with paper wings attached behind, then you would be sorely wrong. No, these fairyland creatures bite.

Things come to a head when the Queen of the Elves snatches away Tiffany’s baby brother and before she knows it, she’s going in after him, surrounded by Nac Mac Feegle, small blue men who been thrown out of fairyland for being drunk and disorderly, and armed with her trusty iron frying pan. Truly things can’t get much stranger for poor old Tiffany than what they are!

(Oh, and she’s being accompanied by a talking toad. Who doesn’t like the cold by the way).

As always Pratchett’s delightful way of playing with words and turning normal conventions and wisdom upside down and inside out is an absolute treat to read and you’ll quickly find yourself glued to the pages as you flick through what can only be described as a thoroughly entertaining book. The drama, the action and above all else, the heartfelt wit, charm and just plain silliness that makes a Discworld book a Discworld book is there and so you’d be an absolute fool if you don’t pick it up.

Scottish little men who constantly exclaim ‘Crivens!’ and ‘Waily, waily, waily’ while trying kick you in the shin, steal your drink and loot your pockets at the same time makes this one a must read! :)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.