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The librarian

The Wee Free Men

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 Night Watch books, is a series within a series.

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 in front of her. Tiffany goes home to think about this and then comes back and uses her little 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 doesn'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. I had the sequel to this first book, A Hat Full of Sky, but not the first book itself, 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 have already started A Hat Full of Sky and plan to read Wintersmith, the third book, pretty soon after.


I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed this.

I read the series last year, at J's urging, and like you couldn't work out why I hadn't read it before.

It's a really good series.
I honestly can't think why I've never read it before. It's so *good*. On the other hand how nice to discover a 'new to me' Pratchett series to read. I also haven't read the Trucker series, have you? That's not a Discworld series though, is it?
I adore the Tiffany books -- I'd say lucky you to have unread ones available, but in fact the re-readings are (for me) better.

Not keen on Truckers which I find forgettable. Sort of reminds me of The Borrowers -- I liked the first one but found the sequels a bit tedious.

Have you read the Johnny series? Those I enjoy, though the first one is a bit less distinguished.

Thanks for the rec for Mistress of the Art of Death, by the way. I've just finished The Serpent's Tale.

I've also been enjoying the Molly mysteries by Rhys Bowen.
I can understand why you find rereading better, Pratchett packs such a lot into his books that it's hard to catch every single thing first time round.

I shall borrow the Trucker series from my daughter then, rather than buy them, that way I'll know if I like them before spending money.

I haven't read the Johnny series but I think one of them was dramatised by the BBC last year and I saw that. Very good. Another series to read at some stage.

Mistress of the Art of Death was one of my favourite reads of last year, glad you liked it. The Serpant's Tale? Perhaps I need to pop over to Amazon... Not familiar with the 'Molly' books either.


Yep, that's what I thought too - in both cases.

I have read the Truckers series. I read it last year and enjoyed it. It isn't Discworld, no. But I think you're enjoy it.
Son-in-law really likes the Trucker series so I think I will give them a go at some stage. I like to be surprised by things sometimes. :-)
Oh, don't you just love Tiffany and the Nac MacFeegle! I wonder if the YA (Young Adult) classification put you off the slightest bit, as it did me? I ought to have known better - if you can't trust Terry Pratchett's Disc World series to appeal to both teens and adults, there's nothing you can put your faith in, ANYWHERE, after all. For me, it was the Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents that I dragged my feet on, but truly enjoyed once I gave in and read it. When it came to a child witch, I was a little less hesitant (even after having been suckered big-time by JK Rowling - but I don't want to get started on THAT, here!), and I fell hard for the main characters once I began to read The Wee Free Men. I thought maybe the character of Tiffany was based on the author's daughter, but in an interview he said that Tiffany was based on himself as a child (maybe his daughter's personality was included just a little, though?). Still, I knew that Granny Aching had to have been someone he loved very much, and he confirmed that in the interview: his grandma, who let him read her books. I can't think of Granny Aching without choking up a little, because there's such a deep, abiding love for her in Tiffany's heart, and she never stops trying to live up to her grandmother's legacy. And it's clear to the reader - but not to Tiffany - that Granny Aching loved Tiffany best, and understood her. Granny Aching was mostly a woman of actions, not words, and Tiffany seems able to master both actions AND words. Very moving story - that had me laughing out loud all through it.

I love the other two books in the series, too. Congratulations on having such a great read ahead of you! Enjoy to the max!

P.S. - There are no doubt layers of the Geographers-falling-into-bear-traps that I don't get, but it's ironic enough on the surface to make me laugh, anyway. That's the great charm of Terry Pratchett for me: his writing works on so many levels, EVERYBODY can get something out of it! (And with a good annotated copy, maybe ALL the jokes would become clear... eventually.)

Well, LJ didn't send me notification of your comments so I've only just found them.

I think possibly I knew there was a lot of Scottish dialect in these books and I was put off slightly thinking it might hard to read. It wasn't at all. *duh* I too am dragging my feet with The Amazing Maurice... it's sitting on my tbr pile and has been for ages. I shall shift it closer to the top as you're not the first person to mention it to me.

As someone who was very close to her own grandmother I too choke up a bit when reading some of the more touching scenes that deal with the relationship between Tiffany and her grandmother. I can even see the same kind of thing developing with myself and my own grandaughter. It's a pretty special thing.

We're such a strange lot in the UK. Pratchett is so typical of the way our sense of humour works - dry without being too cruel (I hope). We poke gentle fun at geography teachers because it's reckoned you don't need to be too bright to be one. (Probably wrong.) And they always seem to be bearded, wear woolley hats and get lost in cave systems and need rescuing...

I really like the fact that there are so many American fans out there... it means our humour can and does travel and we're not that weird after all. Or maybe we are and that's what people love about Pratchett's work. LOL