The Wee Free Men is the start of a series of novels following the young witch, Tiffany Aching. In this first novel, Tiffany faces her first challenge, as nightmares become reality and invade her home, the country of Chalk. She is armed with her wits, a frying pan and the Nac Mac Feegle, a band of tiny, blue-skinned pictsies. However, will it be enough to face the evils coming out of Fairyland?
Here is my spoiler-free review of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett!
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A Short Summary
Tiffany Aching is a young farm girl in the country of Chalk, at least, until the nightmares started appearing. Something evil started to slip through the invisible cracks in the world and it has not gone unnoticed.
What Chalk needs now is a witch, a hag, someone who can find the source of all these threats and nuisances and put a stop to them. Tiffany Aching needs to become that witch and as young as she is, she has potential.
However, she can’t do it alone; she doesn’t even have any experience being a witch. That’s where the Wee Free Men step in. The Nac Mac Feegle are a race of small, blue-skinned pictsie, who despite their size, have the strength and attitude to meet any challenge with enthusiasm.
It’s a story of adventure, wonderful humour and surreal themes that will fill you with that nostalgic wonder you felt when you first saw or read Alice in Wonderland.
Tiffany Aching, as I said earlier, is a young girl working on a farm in the land of Chalk. Chalk is peaceful enough, where everyone’s greatest concern is the daily work. Tiffany is a lot smarter and with great instincts that set her apart from the rest of the village. She can read people's emotions and expressions easily, which helps her out of a lot of tough situations. She also makes great cheese.
Rob Anybody is one of the Nac Mac Feegle. He, like all the Nac Mac Feegle, have a keen interest in thieving and drinking. If something needs stealing, they are up for it and won’t stop until the job is done; the same goes for drinking. Rob Anybody is the most prevalent of the Wee Free Men.
Finally, there is the Queen. I don’t want to say much about the queen, as that would be giving the story away. However, I will tell you she is the main antagonist in this story. Not only is she a great threat, but her personality and demeanour make her a wholly unlikeable character; the perfect fit for this story.
Terry Pratchett’s writing style for this book is simple, but well-thought-out. A lot of the lines read as if it is a rehearsed script for a comedic play. Everything builds upon each other, not just to tell the story, but to also deliver a punchline when the time is right.
The Wee Free Men is a young-adult fantasy, so the writing is simplified further. However, it’s a read that adults will easily enjoy, with plenty of jokes and themes that still have an impact, no matter your age.
My Thoughts on The Wee Free Men
I do recall reading The Wee Free Men when I was younger. Upon opening the book, I was greeted with familiar dialogue and descriptions, slowly uncovering memories as I read.
However, I didn’t recall the second half of the story so well, leaving me to believe I didn’t finish the book. Now that I did, I can say that I enjoyed it from beginning to end. There is a simplicity to the story that I admire, but not because it is simple. The story tackles complex themes, such as a surreal atmosphere and overcoming mental hurdles.
The fact that these complex themes were made so simple and enjoyable to read is what I admire about the book. Of course, there are also the jokes that pop up here and there; one involving lawyers which made me chuckle. I guess that counts as a classic quality about the book.
The humour is timeless.
I certainly enjoyed reading The Wee Free Men and I’m keen to read more of Terry Pratchett. I suppose I never really took to his writing when I was younger, as there were one or two which I don’t recall finishing either. Luckily, my taste has developed a bit to include Terry Pratchett’s work,
I think what I am most keen to read are the books surrounding Death, as I recall Death being an interesting character who I will appreciate even more now.
With that said, if you are looking for a quality story with some Alice-in-Wonderland elements, you will enjoy The Wee Free Men.
Thank you and as always,
Good day, goodnight and happy reading!