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Discworld #30

The Wee Free Men

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Librarian's Note: For an alternate cover edition of the same ISBN, click here.

"Another world is colliding with this one," said the toad. "All the monsters are coming back."

"Why?" said Tiffany.

"There's no one to stop them."

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, "There's me."

Armed only with a frying pan and her common sense, Tiffany Aching, a young witch-to-be, is all that stands between the monsters of Fairyland and the warm, green Chalk country that is her home. Forced into Fairyland to seek her kidnapped brother, Tiffany allies herself with the Chalk's local Nac Mac Feegle - aka the Wee Free Men - a clan of sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men who are as fierce as they are funny. Together they battle through an eerie and ever-shifting landscape, fighting brutal flying fairies, dream-spinning dromes, and grimhounds - black dogs with eyes of fire and teeth of razors - before ultimately confronting the Queen of the Elves, absolute ruler of a world in which reality intertwines with nightmare. And in the final showdown, Tiffany must face her cruel power alone...

In a riveting narrative that is equal parts suspense and humor, Carnegie Medalist Terry Pratchett returns to his internationally popular Discworld with a breathtaking tale certain to leave fans, new and old, enthralled.

375 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published May 1, 2003

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About the author

Terry Pratchett

614 books41.4k followers
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987, he turned to writing full time.

There are over 40 books in the Discworld series, of which four are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal.

A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback - Harper Torch, 2006 - and trade paperback - Harper Paperbacks, 2006).

In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry published Snuff in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004, Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University in 2009, the University of Winchester in 2009, and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution to Public Service.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,365 reviews
Profile Image for Patrick.
Author 65 books233k followers
June 7, 2015
I will never be able to write a book as good as this.

I just finished reading it again. This is probably my third or fourth time.

I love all of Pratchett's books. It's easy to do, as the best of them are utterly excellent, while the worst of them is merely great.

This, I think, might be his best. And I love it for so many reasons. It is diamond beyond price among the other brilliant (but perhaps lesser) diamonds.

Part of me wants to quote parts of it to you. But I won't. Out of context you can't feel the weight of them.

I love the main character. A little girl who is smart and strong and uncertain and proud.

I wish I had a little girl, so I could give her this book.

I wish I could give a copy of this book for every little girl in the world. I want them to meet Tiffany. And even if they don't want to be like Tiffany, I want them to know that she exists. That she is possible.

I wish I could give a copy of this book to every little boy in the world, too. I want them to meet Tiffany. And even if they don't want to be like her, I want them to know that she exists, that she is possible.

I wish I could read this book to my little boy. But he's only five, and parts of it would spook him, and other parts he wouldn't understand. Maybe in a year he will be ready.

If you haven't read this book, you really should. You'll enjoy it a little more if you're familiar with Pratchett's Work, but that's not essential.

When I grow up, I want to be Tiffany Aching.
Profile Image for Nataliya.
785 reviews12.5k followers
January 27, 2023
I plan to use this book in the future as a strategic "weapon" for introducing my (future, hypothetical) daughter to the world of Terry Pratchett's imagination. Yes, I see it as a 'gateway drug' to fuel addiction to Sir Terry's writing. And that's the addiction I'm happy to perpetuate. After all, this book introduces Tiffany Aching whom I love to pieces and want to adopt to be my level-headed and practical little sister.
"Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!
This book is written to be accessible to kids and adults alike - since Pratchett does not stoop to the condescending and patronizing attitude that can easily plague the story written for ...ahem... younger members of society. No, you see, Pratchett seems to believe that intelligent young characters, as well as intelligent young readers, obviously, are perfectly capable of following stories with several layers of complexity in them.
"Zoology, eh? That's a big word, isn't it?"
"No, actually it isn't," said Tiffany. "Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.
This book is also quite accessible to those who are just starting their journey into the superficially magical but actually very firmly grounded in reality and not afraid to deal with uncomfortable issues and uncomfortable questions world that Pratchett created. And please don't be fooled that the action takes place on a flat planet traveling through space on the back of four elephants standing on a back of a giant space turtle - the issues he writes about are quite applicable to the lives of people on a giant blue-green ball hurtling through space while circling along the hot yellow Sun.

In The Wee Free Men, nine-year-old Tiffany Aching, a budding witch in a country that does not take kindly to witchcraft, has her first encounters with the supernatural world of Discworld. Intelligent and reasonable and practical, she takes it quite in stride - and so when her world is threatened by the invasion of monsters from the not-so-nice fairy tales, she firmly stands her ground, armed with little but a frying pan, analytical reasoning, common sense and Third Thoughts ("And Tiffany thought: No, that was a Third Thought. I’m thinking about how I think about what I’m thinking. At least, I think so.") and supported by a rowdy clan of the Mac Nag Feegle (the titular Wee Free Men) - a race of blue-skinned six-inch-tall pesky warriors who speak in vaguely Scottish dialect and are terrified of the evil also known as Lawyers.
“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.”
“There’s no one to stop them.”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s me,” said Tiffany.
In this book, Pratchett creates equally memorable settings that are polar opposites of each other. On one side, we have The Chalk - a land of green hills that are suited for shepherding and populated by sturdy rural folk that do not take kindly to things like witchcrafting.
“Ordinary fortune-tellers tell you what you want to happen; witches tell you what’s going to happen whether you want it to or not. Strangely enough, witches tend to be more accurate but less popular.”
In fact, they'd prefer to burn witches for little less than the suspicion of being one. You see, most people there, unlike Tiffany, do not stop to *think* about what they're doing and *why* they're doing it. But Tiffany is not the one to go along with the crowd thinking without stopping to think for herself and question her motives and reasons.

On the other side of Tiffany's reality, there is the Fairie, a surreal dream-like place — and when I say dream-like, I'm referring not to the warm fluffy place of children's book but the dreams from which you wake up screaming and covered in sweat.
“This is a dream, after all, Tiffany told herself. It doesn’t have to make sense, or be nice. It’s a dream, not a daydream. People who say things like “May all your dreams come true” should try living in one for five minutes.”
But nothing in this fantastical and yet horrifying world is ever prepared for Tiffany with her logical mind and common sense and fierce desire to protect anything that is *hers*.
"Yes! I'm *me*! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!"

The best thing about Tiffany Aching, a budding witch in the country that does not approve of witchcraft, is her propensity to question things and information that others take for granted.
She bases her conclusions on evidence, and is able to think and reason intelligently. Not too many young literary heroines have actually shown this ability (even though some of them claim they have!).
"And all the stories had, somewhere, the witch. The wicked old witch.

And Tiffany had thought, Where’s the evidence?

The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you had no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch.

If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince” ... was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called him handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long” ... well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories didn’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told...

Anyway, she preferred the witches to the smug handsome princes and especially to the stupid smirking princesses, who didn’t have the sense of a beetle...

She couldn’t be the prince, and she’d never be a princess, and she didn’t want to be a woodcutter, so she’d be the witch and know things."
Yes, this is my favorite thing about Tiffany - she wants to be a witch because she wants to know things. Just think about it - how awesome is it? Isn't it the opposite of what popular culture tries to teach young girls - to be pretty princesses just waiting for the Prince Charming???
“The thing about witchcraft,” said Mistress Weatherwax, “is that it’s not like school at all. First you get the test, and then afterward you spend years findin’ out how you passed it. It’s a bit like life in that respect.”
Tiffany has a highly logical and practical mind. She stops to think about things. She is reasonable and level-headed. She is fiercely protective of the things she loves. Oh, and did I mention that she is wickedly smart (“She’d read the dictionary all the way through. No one told her you weren’t supposed to”) and has a strong sense of justice and fairness? After all, her worldview was influenced by her legendary shepherdess grandmother, perhaps a bit a a witch herself (who, I think, could be a soul sister of Granny Weatherwax), and Tiffany has internalized her grandmother's philosophy quite well:
“Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices."

From her first action of smacking the supernatural invader with a frying pan (after carefully and thoroughly planning out her defense, of course) to her final act of saving her little corner of the universe, Tiffany manages to be an awesome role model for girls everywhere - sharp, intelligent, critically thinking, resourceful and never in the need of saving - as well as remaining a very believable nine-year-old girl, both selfish and selfless at the same time, both brave and frightened, sweet and prickly, and curious, determined and fiercely protective of what's hers. And she can stretch the definition of *HERS* pretty far - the knack that her world should be thankful for.
"All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!"
At the end of her adventure, Tiffany does something that not that many heroines of books aimed at younger people do - she genuinely grows up, gains some maturity that is amazing and yet sad at the same time - sad because it's always a part of the emotions I feel when realizing that someone is slowly losing their childhood innocence bit by bit, changing from a child to someone with *responsibility* (and your age, really, has little bearing on whether you are an adult, after all). She no longer is just a little girl - she is a girl armed with knowledge and power (with which, of course, apparently comes great responsibility) - and she takes it on with the same quiet resignation and determination as she does anything else.
“I’ll never be like this again, she thought, as she saw the terror in the Queen’s face. I’ll never again feel as tall as the sky and as old as the hills and as strong as the sea. I’ve been given something for a while, and the price of it is that I have to give it back.

And the reward is giving it back, too. No human could live like this. You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn’t get the milking done. No wonder we dream our way through our lives. To be awake, and see it all as it really is…no one could stand that for long.”

“The secret is not to dream," she whispered. "The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I'm going. You cannot fool me any more. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine.”
This book is an easy 5-star read. I adore it and will definitely sneak it onto the future hypothetical to-read pile for my future hypothetical daughter.
"She’d never really liked the book. It seemed to her that it tried to tell her what to do and what to think. Don’t stray from the path, don’t open that door, but hate the wicked witch because she is wicked. Oh, and believe that shoe size is a good way of choosing a wife.

A lot of the stories were highly suspicious, in her opinion. There was the one that ended when the two good children pushed the wicked witch into her own oven. Tiffany had worried about that after all that trouble with Mrs Snapperly. Stories like this stopped people thinking properly, she was sure. She’d read that one and thought, Excuse me? No one has an oven big enough to get a whole person in, and what made the children think they could just walk around eating people’s houses in any case? And why does some boy too stupid to know a cow is worth a lot more than five beans have the right to murder a giant and steal all his gold? Not to mention commit an act of ecological vandalism? And some girl who can’t tell the difference between a wolf and her grandmother must either have been as dense as teak or come from an extremely ugly family. The stories weren’t real. But Mrs Snapperly had died because of stories."


My ever-expanding collection of Pratchett’s Discworld reviews:
- Guards! Guards!
- Men at Arms
- Thud!
- Lords and Ladies
- The Wee Free Men
- Hogfather
- Monstrous Regiment
- Night Watch

Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,866 followers
June 12, 2022
It would have been extremely cool if Pratchett would have honored more countries by making fun of their stereotypes and traditions, but so at least the Scots can feel really happy about having been made immortal by him.

Of course, this is to take with a grain of rice, because some of the exaggerations might seem, directly compared to reality, discriminating, but hey, that´s what satire is for.

Different than the old works
The late Pratchetts´children´s and YA books are very different from the original Discworld series, I would call it a completely other kind of writing, melancholic, less dealing with meta criticism, using a modified tone to be best for the new audience he decided to explore worlds with.

Easier to read
These stylistic decisions make it somewhat easier to digest, by minimizing the postmodernist sophisticated satire approach, it has a kind of ease and levity the original Discworld couldn´t deliver, because one had to expect a hidden innuendo or actual heavier plot action behind each corner. Not to talk about the feeling of awe the general Discworld leaves after having finished one more masterpiece, the realization of the fact that a comedic fantasy author owned the whole society. Again

Preparation for the real Discworld
These facts make it something for everyone, a great preparation for kids and teens to later enter the highly complex Discworld and a vacation for Discworld fans who once want to have something that isn´t that high brow that one has to think about while reading, to be able to enjoy Pratchett just for the fun of it, without this annoying becoming a better, wiser person.

The Tiffany Aching novels are part of the best coming of age, leaving childhood, finding destination novels ever written, something Pratchett may have seen as one of the most important parts of his legacy, integrating so much wisdom and metaphors, besides the fabulous humor, that they could be seen as good versions of educational novels.

Using the Nac Mac Feegles and one evil antagonist as driving plot devices enables Pratchett to focus on the lections he wants to transport, while the story still stays dynamic and suspenseful, with the witch wisdom background vibe and full frontal female frenzy.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:

This one is added to all Pratchettian reviews:
The idea of the dissected motifs rocks, highlighting the main real world inspirational elements of fiction and satire is something usually done with so called higher literature, but a much more interesting field in readable literature, as it offers the joy of reading, subtle criticism, and feeling smart all together.
Profile Image for Matt.
216 reviews656 followers
July 7, 2016
I'm a huge fan of dangerous books for boys. I love classic boys literature, whether Dumas's 'Count of Monte Cristo', Kipling's 'Jungle Book', Burroughs 'A Princess of Mars', Tolkien's 'The Hobbit', or Heinlein's juvenile fiction. I love good stories that instruct boys in being adults. I love them for being persistently politically incorrect, not just now but then. I love them because they are stories by people who obviously know boys and know what they need. And, I love them for just being fun and exciting adventure stories. They abide, despite the distaste of limp wristed educators that would rather that little boys don't read them and are horrified when boys play with pretend weapons. I see that and I see someone that hates boys, and for that matter doesn't have a particularly high opinion of girls either. Far be it from me to be a child hater who insists that little boys and girls never be messy, smelly, or wild. You can't learn bravery or wisdom if you learn nothing about risk. You can't learn to be gentle if you aren't first strong.

But I don't have boys; I have two girls. That isn't to say that I don't intend to read to them all the great boy's literature, because I don't think that boys and girls are all so different as all of that. But, there just aren't a lot of dangerous books for girls. There aren't many daring books which feature female protagonists and address the question of growing up through a girl's eyes in ways that I approve of. Even Rowling's 'Harry Potter', features at its heart, a daring young man, not a daring young woman. And too much young adult literature for girls makes girls lives seem like they are all about boys and spend too little time on the other important things.

So of course, if you've read this book, you can imagine my joy at finding a story which is in the model of the best boy's literature but has as its protagonist - a girl. And what a girl! If you haven't read, 'The Wee Free Men', the protagonist is young Tiffany Aching, shepherd girl and cheese maker, who you'll fall in love with by the end of the first chapter. She's little, but she is doughty!

To give anything away about the plot would be unfair to the reader. The story is set on Pratchett's Discworld, but the connections are very loose and the reader gives up only a few easter eggs by not having read anything else in the series. There is no more need to read 'Lords and Ladies' or have an existing relationship with Granny Weatherwax than there is a need to read the Silmarillion before reading 'The Lord of the Rings'. So go ahead and open this story up, be you young or old, boy or girl, fan of fantasy or no; this is a treasure.

I love reading to my girls, but I sometimes get anxious for the probably all too quickly coming days when I can read something to them with more meat: something which is nearer and dearer to my heart. If I could only read them two fiction books, I'd read them Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' and Pratchett's 'The Wee Free Men'. It's of that stature.

Some of my readers - being who they are, or knowing who I am - may wonder that I'd so recommend this tale of 'witchcraft'. Well, for one thing, there isn't a lot of actual 'witchcraft' in the craft that Pratchett teaches. The problem with the word ‘witch’ is that it means so many different things to so many different people, that it really means nothing unless you know what it is pointing to. In Pratchett's case, the word 'witch' might as well mean 'nerd', because they are essentially pointing to the same idea. But, for people that don't know that words are merely pointers, and have no meaning until they are addressed and dereferenced, or who are uncomfortable with that, let me add this addition: I'm my children's parent, not a book. There isn't anything made by man which doesn't have a something in it which isn't fully edifying. I can round off the rough corners of my children's developing understanding fairly easily. I can talk with them about what they read. I would have to do that no matter what they read, for there is nothing written in the tongues of men that can't be misunderstood. What I can't do so easily is inspire children. I can't so easily make them care and make them excited so that they know something not just in their heads but also in their hearts. For that, I need the help of stories, and this is a good one filled with many things that are virtuous and true. I'm not going to let any minor confusion get in the way of that.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,883 reviews16.6k followers
June 13, 2021
Pictsies not Pixies.

While Terry Pratchett’s 2003 Discworld STORY (signifying that it is young adult book) introduces the spunky and likable nine year old protagonist Tiffany Aching (spawning four more books) the true hero(es) of this very enjoyable adventure are the Nac Mac Feegle.

Standing six inches tall, ginger bearded and blue tattooed, the Wee Free Men are fearless, profane (in a YA approved package), and like stealing, drinking and fighting. They are as hilarious as minions, kick ass and have names like: Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, Big Aggie, Wee Jock, and No'-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock Jock.

Realizing that she sees the world differently than others, Tiffany befriends the little people and gets sideways of the Elf queen who has kidnapped her little brother.

Pratchett’s humor and imagination, mainstays of the Discworld experience, are on full display and this is a great story to boot.

And it has wee pictsies.

*** 2021 reread -

Terry Pratchett books make me smile.

While I was understandably enamored of the pictsies when I first read this back in 2017, this time around I gave more attention to what a wonderful character he created in Tiffany. This nine year old, hard working farm girl, serious for her age, wants to be a witch and other witches see her talent.

And as we've enjoyably learned from Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Og, witch's magic is practical magic. Granny's headology is about knowing people and having situational awareness. Yes, there is magic, but it's like martial arts, best to use only when necessary. When Tiffany tells Granny that she is good at making cheese, the elder stateswoman of Discworld witches replied that is a good thing, cheese is good, it's alive.

This time I also observed the complicated relationship between Tiffany and her own grandmother, the Chalk's fearless own Granny Aching. The scene where Granny Aching considers the shepherdess figurine, with it's bows and ribbons, in contrast to her own appearance, hard and muddy, with thick boots and smoking Jolly Sailor tobacco from a pipe, was poignant.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews50 followers
March 12, 2021
Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30; Tiffany Aching, #1), Terry Pratchett

The Wee Free Men is a 2003 comic fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, which takes place in his Discworld setting.

Tiffany Aching is a 9-year-old girl who literally sees things differently from others. While playing by the river near her home, she sees two tiny blue, kilted men who warn her of a "green heid" in the water.

Suddenly a vile green monster, Jenny Greenteeth, appears in the water. Using her brother Wentworth as bait, Tiffany ambushes the beast and cracks it with a frying pan, while Wentworth is completely unfazed, as he is unable to see either the little men or the monster.

She goes into town to visit a travelling teacher and comes upon Miss Tick, a witch who has been watching her.

Tiffany is told that these little men are the Nac Mac Feegles, who are rough and rowdy fae folk who speak with Glaswegian accents.

Miss Tick informs her that she is likely the witch of the wold she resides in, and gives her the toad familiar she carries as a guide before tricking Tiffany out of the tent and disappearing.

Tiffany returns home to discover that the Nac Mac Feegles are not only incredibly fast and strong, but afraid of her, as she catches them stealing eggs from under a chicken and a sheep right out of the field.

When Wentworth is kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies, Tiffany seeks out the help of the Nac Mac Feegles to rescue him, as they are the most powerful otherworldly things she knows and they're more than willing to submit to her will, terrified by one who is not only a witch but one who can read and write.

Rob Anybody, and a group of other Feegles including Big Yan and Daft Wullie take her back to their home where she meets the buzzard-aviator Hamish, the bard-Feegle William, and their clan leader the Kelda.

Tiffany is told that her brother has been taken by the Queen to her domain in Fairyland, and not only must she take the Feegles to go rescue him, but she must also take up the reins as Kelda, as the current one is about to die.

After worming her way out of marrying Rob Anybody, Tiffany goes out of the mound to the field where the Feegles test her First Sight and Second Thoughts by letting her find the entrance to the queen's domain. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز چهارم ماه فوریه سال 2021میلادی

عنوان: دیسک ورلد (جهان صفحه) کتاب سی: مردان آزاد فی: نویسنده: تری پرچت؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 21م

دیسک ورلد (جهان صفجه)، یک سری از کتابهای فانتزی هستند، که روانشاد «تری پرچت»، نویسنده ی «انگلیسی»، نگاشته ‌اند؛ داستان‌های این سری در جهانی با نام «دیسک‌ ورلد (جهان صفحه)» می‌گذرند؛ که صفحه‌ ای تخت است، و بر شانه‌ های چهار فیل با هیکلهای بزرگ قرار دارد؛ این فیل‌ها نیز، به نوبه ی خود بر روی پشت یک لاک‌پشت غول‌آسا، با نام «آتوئین بزرگ» قرار دارند؛ در این سری از کتابها، بارها از سوژه های کتاب‌های نویسندگانی همچون «جی.آر.آر تالکین»، «رابرت هاوارد»، «اچ پی لاوکرافت» و «ویلیام شکسپیر» به گونه ای خنده دار استفاده شده ‌است؛

از سری «دیسک ‌ورلد» بیشتر از هشتاد میلیون نسخه، در سی و هفت زبان، به فروش رفته‌ است؛ این سری در برگیرنده �� بیش از چهل رمان (تاکنون چهل و یک رمان)، یازده داستان کوتاه، چهار کتاب علمی، و چندین کتاب مرجع، و مکمل است؛ از این سری، چندین رمان تصویری، بازی کامپیوتری، نمایش تئاتر، سریالهای تلویزیونی اقتباس شده ‌است؛ روزنامه ی «ساندی تایمز» چاپ «انگلستان» از این سری به عنوان یکی از پرفروش‌ترین سری کتاب‌ها نام برده، و «تری پرچت» را، به عنوان پرفروش‌ترین نویسنده ی «انگلستان»، در دهه ی نود میلادی دانسته است؛

رمان‌های «دیسک‌ورلد» جوایز بسیاری از جمله جایزه «پرومتئوس»، و مدال ادبی «کارنگی» را، از آن خود کرده ‌اند؛ در نظرسنجی «بیگ رید»، که «بی‌بی‌سی» در سال 2003میلادی، در «انگلستان» انجام داد، چهار رمان سری «دیسک‌ورلد»؛ در فهرست یکصد کتاب برتر قرار گرفتند؛ همچنین مردمان «انگلیس»، در این نظرسنجی، چهارده رمان «دیسک‌ورلد» را، در شمار دویست کتاب برتر، دانستند؛ تا کنون، از این سری، چهل و یک رمان، به چاپ رسیده است؛ «تری پرچت» که پیش از درگذشتش؛ در ابتدای سال 2015میلادی، از بیماری «آلزایمر» رنج می‌بردند، اعلام کردند که خوشحال می‌شوند که دخترشان، «ریانا پرچت»، به جای ایشان، به ادامه ی این سری بپردازند؛ جلد بیست و ششم رمان از این سری، تا رمان «دزد زمان (2001میلادی)» بدست «جاش کربی»، به تصویر کشیده شده ‌اند، اما نسخه ‌های «آمریکایی»، که انتشارات «هارپرکالینز» آن‌ها را، منتشر کرده، دارای تصاویر روی جلد متفاوتی هستند؛ پس از درگذشت «جاش کربی»، در سال 2001میلادی، نقاشی‌های روی جلد کتاب‌های بعدی این سری، بدست «پائول کربی» کشیده‌ شدند

در کتاب سی از این سری با عنوان «مردان آزاد فی»؛ «تیفانی آچینگ» دختری نه ساله است، که به معنای واقعی کلمه، چیزهایی متفاوت تر از دیگران میبیند؛ او در حالیکه در کنار رودخانه، و، در نزدیکی خانه ی خود بازی میکرد، دو مرد کوچک و کشته شده «آبی» را میبیند که به او از «سبز شدن» در آب هشدار میدهند...؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/12/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Melindam.
666 reviews293 followers
April 27, 2023
“If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”

Pure Pratchett, an ageless story with universal appeal to both children and adults.

This is one of the most serious stories of Discworld, as Terry Pratchett knew perfectly well that if you write to and about children, you have to be serious, otherwise it won't work.

I wish I could have been like Tiffany Aching as a child: unafraid with First Sight (to see what is really there) and Second Thoughts (thinking about what you are thinking) and lots of common sense. Hell, as an adult, I still want to be Tiffany. Well, First Sight does not work all the time, though I am getting better at Second Thoughts (and Third).

I don't have a daughter, I have a small son, nevertheless I hope we will read this book (and others of the Discworld series) together one day to remind me and show him that:

- you don't need to own and brandish a sword to be a hero: sometimes a firm grip on a frying pan and on facts suffices
- it takes courage to accept and to be yourself, but it's worth it
- just because you are not a prince/princess, it does not mean that you don't have your own story
- that you have to go and question stories and not take them at face value.

“Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

“It doesn't stop being magic just because you know how it works.”
Profile Image for Joel.
556 reviews1,668 followers
April 8, 2011
This was my first Terry Pratchett book. If you a looking for a way into his Discworld series (which is, at last count, 1 million books long), you could do worse. It's a totally separate story arc. It's the first of a shorter sub-series, giving you someplace to go if you like it. It's YA, so it goes down easy. It stars a creative, capable heroine and is in no way about her love of boys, which is always refreshing (still, still this is refreshing). And it's funny.

I mean, funny-ish. Funny is so incredibly hard to do in books. Or maybe it is just hard to make a book that I will think is actually funny, instead of just clearly trying to be funny. I almost never laugh when I read. Other reviews of this book mention hearty belly-aching guffaws, streaming tears, books uncontrollably flung into the air in spastic fits of mirthful glee. Whereas I would encounter one of Pratchett's many, many puns or subtle off-color jokes (I would quote one but the book is already back at the library, but they are well-placed and will surely go right over a kid's head), and my brain would go, "Hey, that is clever. That's funny. Ha ha." But meanwhile, my face would look like this:


I don't know what is wrong with me! I want to be one of those people who giggle-snorts while reading on the subway. I do laugh when I read funny blog posts or Goodreads reviews so I don't know what is going on. The last time I remember laughing really hard at a book, it was one small part of The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant by Dan Savage.

Terry Pratchett deserves a better reader than me because this is a funny book. Tiffany Aching is the kind of girl you want your daughter to read about. And your son; he can read books with girls in them too. In the course of discovering she is a witch and, with the help of the titular Wee Free Men, who are like drunken, filthy-mouthed Smurfs, saving her little brother, Labyrinth-style, she learns she is a strong and capable girl with her own identity and a link to past generations of powerful women. This is clearly why the back of the book mentions Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I said this was YA, but aside from being light and easy to read, it is also well-considered and thoughtful and, yes, funny. Probably.
Profile Image for Siria.
1,864 reviews1,359 followers
December 23, 2008
I really, really wish that I had a younger girl cousin to pass this book onto, because I think it's a perfect antidote for some of the books that are enjoying a vogue right now (*cough* Twilight *cough*). Where the latter feature some downright disturbing gender politics, The Wee Free Men has a heroine who's sensible and smart and capable; a realistic, strong relationship between grandmother and granddaughter; a world where women are bounded by preconceptions and gender roles and fears, but a nine-year-old girl is still strong enough to take on the Queen of Fairie armed only with a frying pan. All that, and Pratchett's trademark wry humour and slightly dark take at some of our best-loved assumptions—really well worth the read.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
265 reviews3,993 followers
March 24, 2022
A children's discworld book that will likely be appreciate by it's intended demographic

I have been going through reading all of the Discworld books in order, and I originally intended on skipping the children's books. However reading some of the reviews of them by people like Patrick Rothfuss who says they are amazing had me rethink this and go back and read them.

Unfortunately, I just can't appreciate them for what they are because they simply don't appeal to me. They have the same Discword vibe that I enjoy, but I read this series to have a mix of humor and intelligent takes on fantasy/science concepts, and neither of those two were present in this book.

Instead, you get a fun story about a little girl who is equal parts brave and smart. She is easy to like, but not enough to thoroughly enjoy this story.

I give it 2 stars because while I didn't enjoy it, it's a book that I will encourage my daughter to read when she gets older.
Profile Image for María.
144 reviews3,096 followers
August 9, 2017
Le tengo cariño a casi todas las brujas, para qué mentir. Pero Tiff me ha robado el corazón.
Profile Image for Sarah.
237 reviews1,114 followers
April 13, 2018
Tiffany Aching, aged nine, is the only member of her large family with a jot of curiosity about the outside world. For generations without counting, the Achings (also spelled Aikens, Archens, or Akins) have tended sheep in the Discworld backwater known as the Chalk. Nothing interesting has happened in the Chalk for all of recorded history.

But that's about to change. A parasitic fae world, made of selfish magic and dream fragments, is connecting to the Chalk. Monsters not seen in centuries are dropping up in fields and rivers. Tiffany is the only human aware of them, and thus the only defense against them.

So when Tiffany's perpetually sticky, candy-obsessed toddler brother, Wentworth, is left unattended for a few minutes and abducted by the cruel and selfish Faerie Queen (pronounced "Quin" by most of our cast) only Tiffany can save him. She finds allies in the Nac Mac Feegle - a cheerfully violent tribe of six-inch-high, blue-skinned brigands with thick Scottish burrs - and a talking toad She enters Faerie armed with nothing but an iron skillet. Sam Gamgee and Rapunzel approve.

Content Advisory
Violence: The Feegles will attack anything, including but not limited to faerie queens, sharks, sheep, giant squid, whiny twelve-year-old boys, housecats, and each other. This is always played for laughs. There is no actual death or gore shown.

There's an unsettling flashback of the Chalk people burning down the house of an elderly suspected witch and killing her cat.

Sex: Tiffany's older sisters enjoy springtime on the farm because they get to watch the young men working with their shirts off. Tiffany is baffled. She's equally baffled by her uncle's fondness for a chewing tobacco logo that features a nude female figure if you look at it from a certain angle.

When Tiffany is declared temporary kelda (matriarch) of the local Feegles, she fears that she'll have to marry their chief, Rob Anybody (yes, that's his real name), as dictated by tradition. He's just as scared as she is, due to the considerable difference in age and size. They figure a way out of it, don't worry!

Language: The Feegles' favorite word is "crivens!" , a fairly obvious euphemism.

Substance Abuse: The Wee Free Men are always hammered and proud of it. Tiffany bribes them with something called Special Sheep Linament, which is said to put hair on one 's chest. All the adults in Tiffany's family chew tobacco.

Nightmare Fuel: Literal. In Faerie live blobby, faceless creatures called dromes, who absorb human thoughts and build dreams from them. Usually the human gets trapped in the dream and starves, while the drome drains the life from them.

The Quin is a shapeshifter with no settled form. At one point Tiffany notices that her enemy's eyes "don't move as if she sees through them" *shudders*

Politics and Religion: Pratchett's suspicion of religion is not manifest in this book but occasionally crops up later in the series.

While the word "witch" is frequently used, the witches in this universe have little in common with real-world witches, or even Harry Potter witches. The trappings we associate with witches - incantations, potions, summoning of spirits - are almost nonexistent here. This is just a group of women who do the right thing because somebody has to. Their main goal is keeping the peace and protecting the powerless, and unlike many fictional witches, they don't hate men. In the case of Nanny Ogg, they really, really...don't hate men.

The Wee Free Men was my introduction to Pratchett and Discworld, but despite being his fortieth book set there it was easy to jump in.

It does owe a bit to the great older-kid/YA adventure stories that came before, particularly Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass, The Snow Queen, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, A Wrinkle in Time, and Labyrinth.

But these similarities are in the bones of the story, not displayed on its facade. The imagery is often familiar, but the tale itself has a unique viewpoint and message.

For instance, if you put all the villains of the aforementioned stories in a police lineup, the Quin would stand out. She's not a bellowing dullard like the Queen of Hearts, nor is she consumed with hubris and power-lust like Jadis. She's much more personal than IT (L'Engle's mutant disembodied brain, not King's demon clown) and much smarter than Smaug, who has the mind of a worm after all. As for Jareth, he's an antihero, not a villain, and has a human emotional life beyond the capabilities of someone like the Quin. If anything she's a more active Snow Queen, a shallow malignant force who feeds on discouragement and falsehood.

Tiffany wins by being grounded in her home soil. Unlike the majority of the protagonists on the influence list, she does not come from money. She's grown up among life and death and beauty and decay as only a farm kid can. She wants to travel and learn, but she's no Belle looking down her nose at the other villagers either. Tiffany is probably better adjusted than most adults.

And those crazy Feegles. My imagination would be a sad place without their brainless bravery , huge hearts, eternal loyalty, and love of kebabs.

I am happy to report that there are four more books about Tiffany and Co. A Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and I Shall Wear Midnight are just as good as this one, albeit darker. I haven't read The Shepherd's Crown yet.

This book is recommended for everyone 14 and up, but especially if you need a break from mainstream YA melodrama and/or books that idolize the Fey Folk.
Profile Image for Daria.
425 reviews261 followers
April 4, 2021

Зазвичай я не пишу ніяких відгуків на книги Террі Пратчетта, бо:

а) я вважаю їх всі за дефолтом дуже кльовими і планую читати решту свого життя по колу;

б) важко сказати щось хоч трішечки нове, бо складається враження, що всі і так вже читають Пратчетта по колу, одна я відкриваю його історії для себе вперше.

Тим не менш, "Вільні малолюдці" - це та книга про яку хочеться волати з балкона. У мене мегависокі очікування до книжок сера Террі, але Тіфані Болячка перевершила їх буквально з кількох сторінок знайомства. Якщо уявити, що бабуні Дощевіск та тітоньки Оґґ не існує, то Тіфані однозначно стає моєю улюбленою героїнею всього Дискосвіту.

Сюжети у книгах Пратчетта - взагалі не основне, але скажу кілька слів. Події відбуваються у Крейдокраї, де юна Тіфані Болячка зростає у вівчарській родині. У неї є міцна залізна сковорідка, книга з догляду за вівцями, спогади про бабцю, а також менший не надто розумний брат, якого вона мусить глядіти. Ще Тіфані має Перші погляди та Задні думки.

Одного дня у житті Тіфані з'являються Нак Мак Фіґлі - народ вільних малолюдців (щось середнє між шотландцями і смурфами), які визнають у ній відьму і готові допомагати. Це дуже кумедні, але войовничі створіння, що вважають своє життя райським. У них є маленькі гострі мечі, які починають світитися блакитним, коли десь поруч з'являються їхні одвічні вороги - правники (не чекав, Толкіне?), а також мишиці - бойові музичні інструменти, що підозріло нагадують волинку.

Це історія про спостережливість, мудрість і сміливість. Про Королеву, що викрадає маленьких хлопчиків (не чекав, Андерсоне?). Про брехню в казках. Про страшні сни. І, звісно, про овечок та скипидар.

"Ті, хто в силі, мають помагати тим, хто безсилий. Той, хто має голос, має заступитися за безголосого".

Дуже б хотілося стати такою як Тіфані, коли виросту, але боюсь, що цей потяг вже пішов. Лишається тільки чекати на наступні книжки з цієї серії.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,107 followers
November 30, 2019
This might be the best YA book I've ever read.

Need I say more?
Everyone knows how charming Terry Pratchett can be and his humor was always top notch. But what people generally overlook is the wisdom.

First Sight, Second Think.

That's the main thing about being a witch or even being a bit bright. See things as they are and never settle for your first think. Hello!

I love Tiffany. Harder than the earth, handy with string and a big pan. And she demands respect. :)
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,531 reviews980 followers
December 24, 2013

Usually, I'm at a loss when it comes to Christmas gifts. I don't like to give articles of clothing and gift cards feel too impersonal. I get by with the occasional bottle of perfume, compilation album or with some silly toy, but this year I think I've stumbled on a real gem: I bought The Wee Free Men because it is by Pratchett and because it says on the back cover the heroine is nine year's old. Turns out is is one of the very best in the whole Discworld catalogue, one of the funniest but also one of sir Terry's most serious and heart warming offerings. Like the best of Pixar movies, it should appeal to youngsters and grown-ups equally. And I have to buy a second copy for a gift, in order to keep the one I read for myself.

Another bonus is that readers unfamiliar with the Discworld setting should have no problems starting right here. The quality of the writing is much improved compared to some of the early books in the series, the location is new (The Chalk is an isolated corner of the flat world, concerned almost exclusively with sheep farming) and the lead character, Tiffany Aching makes her debut here. I believe the pictsies (they're NOt the same thing as pixies) also show up here for the first time, although they may have had a walk-in guest appearance in some earlier story.

The book is about witches, friends in need, family, dreams. It is also about self-awareness, self-determination and courage, regardless of the size or age of the protagonist. Last but not least, because we're talking about Terry Pratchett here, it is also about the humorous subversion of popular myths and concepts (like the cute, sparkly and benevolent fairies) and about thinking outside the box.

Crivens! I should probably cut the generalities and be more specific: Young sheepfarmer daughter Tiffany comes from a very old family in the Chalk - a place that seemes almost frozen in time, unchanging in its traditions and occupations since times immemorial. She helps around the farm, reads dictionaries from start to finish (nobody told her she's not supposed to), babysits her sticky 'I-Want-Candy' younger brother Wentworth, and likes to tickle trout in the nearby stream in her leisure time. Problems arise when another world touches on the real one, opening magical portals and letting various monsters and horrors pass through. Tiffany deals with the first ones summarily (Remember Tangled and the iron frying pan?), but things get really serious when her brother Wenthworth goes missing. To rescue him, Tiffany must go into the magical world beyond the gate, where the Queen of Fairyland rules through the power of dreams. Luckily for her, some unexpected allies with a talent for breaking & entering where they're not supposed to show up. They are the Nac Mac Feegles. Also known as pictsies. They call themselves the Wee Free Men.

There were hundreds. They rose up from behind buckets. They lowered themselves on string from the ceiling beams. They sidled sheepishly from behind the cheese racks. They crept from under the sink. They came out of places where you'd think a man with hair like an orange nova couldn't possibly hide.
They were all about six inches tall and mostly colored blue, although it was hard to know if that was the actual color of their skins or just the dye from their tattoos, which covered every inch that wasn't covered with red hair. They wore short kilts, and some wore other bits of clothing too, like skinny vests. A few of them wore rabbit or rat skulls on their heads, as a sort of helmet. And every single one of them carried, slung across his back, a sword nearly as big as he was.

They like stealing, drinking and fighting and use their heads only as battering rams on their adversaries. They speak a delightful variant of Scottish brogue ( We is no strangers to the piscatorial an' nautical arts, ye ken. ) and have twee little names like Rob Anything or Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock. The pictsies may be an unruly, undependable, amoral, drunken mob with volatile tempers, but they are good to have by your side in a fight. Here are some more examples of their warrior cries:

They can tak' oour lives but they canna tak' oour troousers!

Ye'll tak' the high road an' I'll tak' yer wallet!

There can be only one t'ousand!

Ach, stick it up yer trakkans!

Nae King! Nae Quin! Nae Laird! Nae master! We wilna be fooled again!

My favorite of the bunch is Daft Wullie who never thinks before he opens his mouth and whose candor about the illegal activities of the pictsies provided many laughs along the journey. In contrast to Daft Wullie, Tiffany has some abilities that make her a very special young girl. She thinks carefully before comitting herself to speak, she cares about her flock and her people, she's good with her hands. Most of all she is inquisitive - the best kind of kids, one of those that are forever asking questions and are curious about the surrounding world). Apparently these are all the necessary qualifications to become a witch, only nobody can tell her where to apply to go to witch school. All she can do is stare hard: at people, at the world around her, at the problems facing her.

Tiffany's Second Thoughts said: Hang on, was that a First Thought?
And Tiffany thought: No, that was a Third Thought. I'm thinking about how I think about what I'm thinking. At least, I think so.
Her Second Thoughts said: Let's all calm down, please, because this is quite a small head.

I almost forgot about another magical helper that the girl receives from a visiting older witch (Miss Tick), namely a sarcastic talking toad, cursed by an angry fairy godmother for injuries undisclosed at the start of the novel . The whole conversation between Tiffany and Miss Tick is one of the highlights of the novel, as is the concept of the itinerant teachers. It doesn't sound like a bad career choice, opening young minds from impoverished locations to the wonders of the larger world. I would name them 'hedge-teachers' in honor of one of Geroge R R Martin novellas:

They went from village to village delivering short lessons on many subjects. They kept apart from the other travelers and were quite mysterious in their ragged robes and strange square hats. They used long words, like 'corrugated iron'. They lived rough lives, surviving on what food they could earn from giving lessons to anyone who would listen. When no one would listen, they lived on baked hedgehog. They went to sleep under the stars, which the math 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.

Most of the novel is spent though in the realm of the Fairy Queen, a bleak, desolate and dangerous snowy landscape that is a far cry from the sunny, pastel coloured, cutesy standard depiction ( Ye could say it's the bit the tourists dinna see. observes Rob Anybody). Predatory dreamweavers (called 'dromes') wait in the shadows to trap unwary visitors in nightmares. The Queen is the most dangerous of all the creatures in the realm, yet Tiffany must confront her directly if she wants to rescue her brother. The epic battle of wills between adultly inclined Tiffany and childish, arrogant, fickle Queen is spectacular and full of invention, managing to include both endearing flashbacks of Tiffany's role model Granny Aching ( Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.), social commentary on lords and peasants and even some highbrow literary references like the masterpiece of Henry Mellville Moby Dick .

In conclusion, Tiffany Aching turns out to be yet another young protagonist that I loved at first sight (like September in Catherynne Valente The Girl Who... or like the young kid from Neil Gaiman's Ocean At The End of the Lane ) and I will look forward to the next Discworld books featuring her. She may be a little young here, but I never felt she was out of character or too smart for her years in the way she looks at the world and in the way she solves her problems on her own, without appealing for help from adults:

Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!

I will say goodbye now to Tiffany, with another quote from the Nac Mac Feegles (I hope they will also return to wreck merry havoc in the next Discworld books) :

Permission to go offski!
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,950 reviews436 followers
July 24, 2018
"So... Roland with the beefy face was the hero, was he? And she was just like the stupid princess who broke her ankle and fainted all the time? That was completely unfair!"

[First read: 2nd June, 2013: 3 stars.
Second read: 17th July, 2018. 4 stars.]

You know when you finish a book and it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling and makes you smile-not too wide, not a stupid grin-just a lovely little expression you give yourself, as if you're remembering a joke or something nice that happened to you once?

I live for books that give those moments.

"But that time it had been magic. And it didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done."

Tiffany Aching is nine years old, and whilst I think that's a tiny bit young to be believable-but then I don't know many nine year old girls, only stupid boys-she does have a good adult brain in her head, it's just the rest of her body needs to catch up. She lives in soft chalk, but it's hers and it's what she knows. You can't teach experience, after all.

Discworld for children makes me slightly nervous. (If you think this is YA you can leave this review right now.) It's always grand-as is anything PTerry writes-but it always seems to have the edge taken off it very slightly. The big issues are always there and there are hints of rudeness which, despite myself, I love, but the wonderful, razor sharp edge isn't always quite there.

With Tiffany Aching, and only through a re-read on hot summer days and nights, I got over that slightly. The story line is pretty much typical Discworld: fairies gone rogue, witches saving the world but not getting the thanks they deserve, people being people which includes being horrible but also nice, and the very important fact that Thinking Is Best, and the writing is as superb as ever.

It's the Thinking Is Best part of this book that made me, er, think. Messy, but you get what I mean. It's logical and reflects my world view more than most people do. Staring at beautiful flowers is all very well, but the world goes on. Things happen, the world goes on. Things need to be done.

"No human could live like this. You could spend a day looking at a flower to see how wonderful it is, and that wouldn't get the milking done. No wonder we dream our way through our lives. To be awake, and see it all as it really is... no one could stand that for long."

There is little to say against this book, except it didn't give me five-star feeling. Stupid to say, since it gave me the warm fuzzy feeling and the little grin to myself, but it had moments of... childishness, I think. The Wee Free Men are great, but maybe a little too Scottish sometimes. Small elements of the plot didn't work for me, but they added to the overall atmosphere anyway.

But the most important thing here is that Tiffany Aching is one of the best female characters you can find in any book anywhere. Granny Weatherwax is the epitome, but since she only had a small cameo-fantastic as it was-it barely counts. PTerry can write women so well, it baffles me that no-one cares all that much. It's a great celebration of a young girl finding who she is, and actually accepting her own flaws but trying to find the good in them.

"Yes," said a voice, and Tiffany realised that it was hers again. The anger rose up joyfully. "Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!"

And she didn't fall in love once! Not once. She's 9, for crying out loud.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,389 reviews1,470 followers
April 26, 2021
"Tiffany Aching was lying on her stomach by the river, tickling trout. She liked to hear them laugh. It came up in bubbles." pg 5, ebook.

With those three sentences, Terry Pratchett introduces readers to one of the most beloved characters from his Discworld series, Tiffany Aching.

Young Tiffany lives in sheep raising country, where chalk from an ancient sea lies beneath the ground. When an otherworldly creature bursts out of a creek and tries to pull her and her little brother Wentworth beneath its waters, Tiffany fights back.

It is the beginning of a life or death struggle with monsters from worlds beyond Discworld, though Tiffany does not know it at the time.

But luckily for her, there are allies who will join her in this fight- the Wee Free Men.

"In the reeds, quite low down, small voices whispered: "Crivens, Wee Bobby, did yer no' see that?" "Aye, we'd better offski an' tell the Big Man we've found the hag." pg 10

Pratchett weaves this coming of age story with humor and magic. He utilizes the best themes of the Witches Discworld subseries to do so.

Tiffany discovers headology, the importance of belief and appearances, and her own mysterious connection to a witch legacy that was hiding in plain sight in the hills.

The pacing of the tale is quick, racing from one danger to the next, and perfect for young adults or reluctant readers who enjoy fantasy.

In addition, Pratchett uses a real life painting in the story which adds another layer of 'fairy magic' to the telling. The artwork is "The Fairy Feller's Master-Stroke" by Richard Dadd and you can see it here: https://bit.ly/3tW58bb

The surreal painting captures the unsettling feel of the creatures and worlds Pratchett so deftly describes. It is also whimsical, but hints at the danger lurking in the shadows.

For the past few weeks, I have been doing a read-through of the Discworld Witches series and really disliked the last one, Maskerade. I felt like the witches' character flaws were beginning to dominate the story, which was draining its humor and heart away.

The Wee Free Men brings magic and heart back into the equation. In Tiffany, readers discover a brave young girl who wants to do the right thing but doesn't have any one to show her the way. We know her mentors will show up eventually, but until then, she and the wee free men need to figure things out on their own.

And how they do that is a very good story. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Lightreads.
641 reviews534 followers
August 16, 2009
Young sheep farmer's daughter begins training to be the witch of the chalk hills that she loves. She has the help of a lot of six-inch fairies with drinking problems and pointy swords, which is good because there's no school for learning witchery, unless you think of the whole world as the school.

Oh, marvelous. I read the three published books straight through everywhere I went, and I know I disturbed people by standing there beaming in the elevator. There may also have been bouncing.

These books! Hilarious, of course, as well they should be. But also rich and scary and sad. People die in these books, and children are faced with truths they shouldn't be, but it's all still fundamentally hopeful. But the thing I like the most is the magic. There is magic, you see, but that's not really what witching is about. Witching is about women, women being so smart and relying on each other and being midwives and caregivers and judges and priests and anything else that's needed. These are books about growing into power that are about the growing, not the power, which is so rare. So many fantasy books use magic as a shorthand for power – these books are about how they overlap, yes, but how they really aren't the same thing at all.

*happy sigh*
Profile Image for Anna.
260 reviews102 followers
September 14, 2016
How can something be so funny, and at the same time so serious and deep? The whole story and Tiffany herself. She is so earnest, never surprised by the oddest things - wee free men popping up, witches and monsters appearing, the world needing to be saved…she takes all that in her stride. She questions things other people, even adults, take on face value, and she THINKS. About things in general, and also about her own thoughts and reactions.

“Yes! I'm me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don't understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That's the kind of person I am!”

Tiffany learned from her grandmother that she has to protect those who cannot protect themselves:

“Them as can do has to do for them as can't. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices."

And she takes that responsibility seriously:

“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.”
“There’s no one to stop them.”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s me,” said Tiffany.

The Nac Mac Feegle, or wee free men, on the other hand, rarely think, they fight, steal and drink (not necessarily in that order). And they are hilarious!

“Whut's the plan, Rob?" said one of them.
"Okay, lads, this is what we'll do. As soon as we see somethin', we'll attack it. Right?"
This caused a cheer.
"Ach, 'tis a good plan," said Daft Wullie.”

Profile Image for Iloveplacebo.
384 reviews214 followers
December 31, 2020
¡Qué bien me lo he pasado leyéndolo!

Con la primera mitad me he reído muchísimo. Creo que nunca me había reído tanto con un libro. Pero con la segunda mitad las risas bajan, y me ha gustado menos. Pero aún así es un buen libro de aventuras.
Los pequeños hombres libres me han encantado, y Tiffany es genial, es valiente, fuerte, inteligente...

Es el libro de este autor que más me ha gustado, aunque solo es el tercero que leo xD.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,929 reviews386 followers
January 20, 2022
My one resolution for the New Year is to do more free range reading, grabbing whatever takes my fancy rather than be hemmed in by my own reading plans. So when a group of friends suggested a buddy read of this Pratchett book, I jumped at the chance. I often have trouble with written humour and felt that a supportive group might help. It turns out that I needn't have worried. I didn't need an interpreter.

I'm not too good at the buddy reading biz either, not being exactly sure what's expected of me. But I can enjoy a good book when I find it. Tiffany Aching is an excellent heroine, clear sighted, clear headed, and practical. She's right when she observes that if you really watch what's happening around you, you can learn an awful lot. Especially if you are quiet and don't draw attention to yourself. I do agree with one of my fellow readers that she seems much more mature than a nine year old, but I was willing to forgive that. Especially since Pratchett manages to stuff so much common-sense into a humorous book. As the old saying goes, many a true word is spoken in jest.

I'm always a bit leery of books that include a lot of dialog in dialect. But in this case, the Nac Mac Feegle just seem to be made for a strong Scots accent. They are adorably impetuous, living as they do for drinkin', fightin', and stealin'. Tiffany may not know exactly how to do what witches do, but she is in good company as she learns the ropes.

This is an inside out fairytale, where the delicate winged fairies are like biting insects and the helpful Fae are the tiny blue-tattooed, ill-behaved Nac Mac Feegle. Instead of a glass slipper, Tiffany has clodhopper boots. No evil step-sisters in sight, just one sticky younger brother. And, of course, Tiffany aspires to be a witch, not a princess. Instead of a fairy godmother, she gets Miss Tick, an itinerant teaching witch. Instead of being rescued by a handsome prince, she must rescue the Baron's none-too-bright son, Roland. Forget about being a seventh son, she is a twentieth grandchild of powerful hag, Granny Aching.

I am happy to be started on the Discworld saga. For years I've been seeing how much my friends have enjoyed it, but I tend to want to start with book one in a series and work my way through it methodically. I can now see where that is unnecessary with this series. I just couldn't find my way into the first volume, but with this one the door is wide open and welcoming. If you've been like me, on the outside looking in, consider a visit with Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle.

Profile Image for Gavin.
886 reviews400 followers
April 6, 2015
It is a just a tiny review for this one as sadly I did not enjoy my first try of one of Terry Pratchett's books. I did not gel with the writing style. The style was actually quite similar to that of Neil Gaiman's books and so unsurprisingly I had the same issues. The story itself was too ridiculous to take seriously and I felt like the characters were just inconsequential mouthpieces for the author to crack some jokes and offer a few witty insights on society. Now admittedly I liked the general message and even laughed at the odd joke or witticism. The problem was that since the story and the characters were not taken very seriously by the author it was impossible for me to care about the happenings or become invested in the characters.

Rating: 2.5 stars

Audio Note: Stephen Briggs is a competent narrator who did a good job with the various voices and accents. That said, I was not a giant fan of the audio version as I've never been a fan of regional British accents.

Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
814 reviews140 followers
August 20, 2023
Crivens! I miss Terry Pratchett so much, and after completing a Discworld-for-"adults" reread I'm wistful and glad that I held back his "younger readers" books for a later day. Those scare quotes are because in truth his books are all perfectly suited for all ages, as we faithful readers know.

There's so much to love here with the introduction of Tiffany Aching, 9-year-old witch protector of the Chalk (it's land, with a lot of sheep), and of the titular Wee Free Men, a.k.a. the Nac Mac Feegle (although they showed up first in Carpe Jugulum, this book offers a whole new start.) You can't explain the Feegle; they must be experienced directly, so read the book, will you? It's short, you've got nothing to lose.

I fell back in love right away. The opening line . . .
Some things start before other things.
. . . is a keeper, despite that it doesn't grow further. The first chapter has countless memorable bits. A sampling:
Another and larger part of Tiffany's brain was thinking of the word susurrus. It was a word that not many people have thought about, ever. [...] Susurrus . . . according to her grandmother's dictionary, it meant "a low soft sound, as of whispering or muttering." Tiffany liked the taste of the word.
I think is the most self-insert moment of the entire Discworld body, as I think I recall it was Pratchett's favorite word also. More:
She'd read the dictionary all the way through. No one told her you weren't supposed to.
"Crivens! Gang awa' oot o' here, ye daft wee hinny! 'Ware the green heid!"
Then, to her dark delight, there was a susurrus.
Tiffany is an excellent children's book character: not perfect, not fanciful, not wistfully motivated, determined, a free thinker. I'm excited to revisit her growth over the next few books.

While the book is astoundingly good much of the time, it also suffers slightly from a choppy narrative flow. This is something I saw a lot in Pratchett's books during my re-read. It's the connection from one segment to the next on a macro level that isn't as smooth as it could be, leaving the reader sometimes feeling, "Oh, the book's on this topic now?" He had mostly overcome this in the years leading up to this book, but it still showed on occasion. I think it's a product of his writing technique, in which he would write different sections of the book out of order and then try to meld them all together later.

Still, I wouldn't trade this book for anything.

Cameos from our favorite witches!
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,256 followers
December 23, 2018
I'm new around here. I've only visited Discworld twice now, but I'm loving it! I was surprised, because I don't often enjoy modern fantasy with its cynicism. I mean, if I'm reading fantasy, it's because I actually want the fantasy. I want to be immersed in a different. I don't want to be reminded of this one. Isn't that the draw? Isn't it why fantasy and escapism overtakes skepticism and becomes popular again after tragic events like 9/11? Whatever the case, for whatever reason, I'm digging the Discworld stuff so far. For me, Pratchett hits the right note with books like these.
Profile Image for Intisar Khanani.
Author 16 books2,262 followers
January 19, 2021
My daughter may have read this three times through (and I bought her the rest of the Tiffany Aching books) before I managed to sit down to read it myself. I have no regrets. Delightful with a vein of iron (or is it flint?) underneath.
Profile Image for Clouds.
228 reviews635 followers
January 23, 2022

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS Y-A list.

I think I’ll always have a soft-spot for imaginative young-adult speculative fiction and as the good people at Locus did such a grand job with picking their Sci-Fi winners, I’ll trust them to single out some special y-a books too.

A toast from Rob Anybody:
Ack! Crivens! What a bonnie wee hag, our wee hag is!

Terry Pratchett is the finest gonnagle this side of the chalk, ye ken? For a bigjob, as that. He’s got the knowing of the plot-weaving, and the unner-standin’ of the free dimensional characters. An tha’s a fine thing too, ‘cos them character dimensions d’nae be coming cheap! He knows his ups from his downs, his coos from his ships, and his hags from his quins, good an proper. An he give us all some licker, in silver thimbles too, like a real, right polite nob.

We Nac Mac Feegle ain’t known for our way with words – unless them words be fighting, stealing and drinking – but there are two ver’rae important words the kelda made me promise to remember if anyone ever asked about this book tha’ bigjob Terry has writ about our very own hag of the hills. It’s a kind of geas, ye ken? Ver’rae important. Those words be: REED IT.

Now, if ye dirty, great scunners are done – I’ll be getting back to the shindig.
Thanks, Rob. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Pratchett is the King – as y’all should know by now. He is my Mr Reliable, and I’m kicking myself that I ever doubted it. For some reason, I thought I didn’t like this book. I know I started it, back in my student days, but I didn’t finish it. I can’t remember exactly why I didn’t finish the book, but for now let’s chalk it down to some kind of debauched, hedonistic rampage (involving drugs, sex, rock’n’roll and rhinos) – but the upshot was an assumption (and you know what they say about those). I assumed that if I didn’t finish it, it can’t have been all that good. Yes, I know, I’m dumber that Daft Wullie – no need to point it out.

When I finished my Locus Sci-Fi quest and decided to spread my wings, I took the Locus YA award into the fold. There were three Tiffany Aching books on this list – and I made number four an honorary member of the list ‘cos I’m a completionist like that. I wasn’t that excited about them due to the aforementioned daftness, so I started with Wintersmith , book three in the series, because I happened to already own it. And y’know what, it’s great! But that’s a different review.

My point is... aw shucks, I have no idea any more!

The Wee Free Men is excellent, through and through. Tiffany Aching is a great addition to the Discworld family and arguably the strongest stand-alone hero Sir Terry has ever created. She certainly puts Rincewind to shame! She’s the heir to Granny Weatherwax, except she’s got a gang of mental fairies for a sidekick, instead of Nanny Ogg. She’s tough, smart, grounded and curious – everything an independent young heroine should be. And she knows that life ain’t like the storybooks, even when it seems like you’re in one (did anyone else smell metafic in the air?).

The story itself is really good – going on a quest into fairyland to rescue the Baron’s son – executed with the trademark flair, profundity and genre satire we’ve come to expect from the great man.

So why didn’t it get 5 stars? Gee, I’m not really sure. It certainly wasn’t miles away. Star ratings are always a gut reaction from me, and this is a solid 4-star. I can't point to any flaws, it just didn't give me that plastered-on grin that 5-star should.

After this I read: A Hat Full of Sky
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,169 reviews1,143 followers
August 7, 2020
One star is for the fantastic narration by Stephen Briggs. I am so glad I reread this.

To me, this is one of the best entries to the Discworld series, aside from Guards! Guards!. So many good parts. Characters, oh Tiffany Aching is one of the best children characters I read. She's brave, resourceful, and so logical. She thinks. She thinks about her thinking! Yet the way she was described does not make her sounds annoying at all. She's just awesome and should be a role model for younger readers.

And Nac Mag Feegles, oh, I believe Pratchett described them as smurfs who watched too much Braveheart. They're more hilarious than that. Briggs really shine in voicing these feegles.

So many gems....

“If you trust in yourself. . .and believe in your dreams. . .and follow your star. . . you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy.”

"It didn't stop being magic just because you found out how it was done.”

“And all the stories had, somewhere, the witch. The wicked old witch.
And Tiffany had thought: Where's the evidence?”

“They can tak’ oour lives but they canna tak’ oour troousers!”

Sigh. So good.
Profile Image for TheBookSmugglers.
669 reviews2,005 followers
February 28, 2013
I will start this post with another Old School Wednesdays’ confession: I only ever read one Terry Pratchett novel, Good Omens ages ago and that was only because he wrote that in collaboration with Neil Gaiman.

I know what you’re thinking right now: “CRIVENS! I can’t believe you haven’t read any Terry Pratchett till now, Ana.”

I KNOW, right? Anyway, the real problem with this course of action was of course, WHERE to start, given as how Pratchett has over 40 novels in the Discworld series alone. I had on good authority that even though The Wee Free Men is Discworld book #30, it was a good place to begin as part of a four-book YA mini-series featuring 9-year-old Tiffany Aching.

Tiffany is – as of this book – the current recipient of the newly-minted The Book Smugglers Award for Best Witch-To-Be on account of her perspicacity, courage, love for words, pride on her cheese-making skills as well as the ability to stand impervious and mostly unaffected by condescending adults, evil Queens, talking frogs and diminutive and outrageous, thievery blue men in kilts (otherwise known as Nac Mac Feegle or Pictsies [not to be confused with Pixies, if you please] or the Wee Free Men).

This is the plot and Tiffany’s personality in a nutshell:

”Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “All the monsters are coming back.”

“Why?” said Tiffany.

“There’s no one to stop them.”

There was silence for a moment.

Then Tiffany said, “There’s me.”

So! Armed with a frying pan (as we all know, a perfectly good weapon of choice as evidenced in Tangled), common sense, the memories of her Granny Aching, and an inordinate amount of Chutzpah, Tifanny embarks on a journey to Fairyland to save her kidnapped brother (whom she says she doesn’t really like all that much but he is hers and as such, she must get him back). And although ok, that setup is not necessarily unique, boy did I love this book.

I loved Tiffany’s journey to Fairyland, as the two worlds collide and dreams and nightmares become intertwined with the real world and how the narrative itself seamlessly adapted to the ever-changing landscape that really reminded me of Diana Wynne Jones’ storytelling as well as Catherynne M. Valente’s recent Fairyland books. This ever-changing background and the stories-within-stories conceit also appears as Tiffany’s memories of her grandmother become clearer and clearer as she finally comes to understand what the stories about her really mean.

The writing is just the type of writing that I love. It’s clever, it’s subtle, it presents valuable, meaningful themes and ideas without being didactic or dumbed down to readers, it has an amazingly clever and astute protagonist and on top of everything it.Is.Hilarious. The portrayal of the Wee Free Men is ostensibly funny (they are afraid of nothing! Except maybe of lawyers!) but the sense of humour is present in everything even when the text is discussing Important Things.

Allow me to present a few choice quotes to better establish the above:

“All witches are selfish, the Queen had said. But Tiffany’s Third Thoughts said: Then turn selfishness into a weapon! Make all things yours! Make other lives and dreams and hopes yours! Protect them! Save them! Bring them into the sheepfold! Walk the gale for them! Keep away the wolf! My dreams! My brother! My family! My land! My world! How dare you try to take these things, because they are mine!”

(I absolutely loved how the above quote both reinforces Tiffany’s age and how children can be selfish and self-centred without portraying those as bad things)

“ “Yes! I’m me! I am careful and logical and I look up things I don’t understand! When I hear people use the wrong words, I get edgy! I am good with cheese. I read books fast! I think! And I always have a piece of string! That’s the kind of person I am!”

(How empowering is this?)

“The stories never said why she was wicked. It was enough to be an old woman, enough to be all alone, enough to look strange because you have no teeth. It was enough to be called a witch. If it came to that, the book never gave you the evidence of anything. It talked about “a handsome prince”… was he really, or was it just because he was a prince that people called handsome? As for “a girl who was as beautiful as the day was long”… well, which day? In midwinter it hardly ever got light! The stories don’t want you to think, they just wanted you to believe what you were told…”

(To sum up: Tiffany wants to be a witch because there is a lack of actual evidence that they are actually wicked)

“ “Zoology, eh? That’s a big word, isn’t it.”

“No, actually it isn’t,” said Tiffany. “Patronizing is a big word. Zoology is really quite short.”


And finally, what might just be my favourite quote of the entire book:

Are you listening?”
“Yes,” said Tiffany.
“Good. Now… if you trust in yourself…”
“… and believe in you dreams…”
“…and follow your star…” Miss Tick went on.
“…you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.”

Basically I spent my time reading The Wee Free Men by alternating between laughing my head off and earmarking thoughtful sequences. I’ve already made arrangements to get my grabby hands on the sequels. And maybe even other Terry Pratchett books (I hear Nation is most excellent).

I am loving these Old School Wednesdays discoveries!
Profile Image for Eirini Proikaki.
339 reviews113 followers
May 24, 2018
Ένα απο τα πιο διασκεδαστικά βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει.Απολαυστικό,γεμάτο χιούμορ και έξυπνες ατάκες.Γέλασα με τα κατορθώματα των Νακ Μακ Φιγκλ και αγάπησα την Τίφανι που κατατροπώνει τέρατα με το τηγάνι της και το μυαλό της.
Θα το πρότεινα σε όσους έχουν παιδιά γιατί είναι ένα απο τα καλύτερα βιβλία του είδους που έχω διαβάσει αλλά είδα δυστυχώς οτι είναι εξαντλημένο.
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