“The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30) (Tiffany Aching #1)” by Terry Pratchett
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Summary from Goodreads:
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….
Tiffany is an interesting heroine. Heroes/heroines in YA books always seem to be under prepared. To me, Tiffany seemed especially unprepared. She’s having to rescue her brother with little more than a frying pan and a book on sheep diseases? Errr… good luck with that. She definitely wasn’t a ‘normal’ heroine. It may have accidentally, kind of been her fault that her brother was kidnapped/taken. Despite that, she still goes to save him. Not because it’s the right thing to do. Not because she has the hero complex so she has to do it. But because he’s her brother and that’s that. It’s kind of hard to explain but here’s a quote that will help you get a feel for what I mean:
“I’m looking for my brother,” said Tiffany sharply.
“The horrible child who screams for candy all the time?”
The daisy stems parted and the boy Roland darted out and joined her under the leaf.
“Yes,” she said, edging away and feeling that only a sister has a right to call even a brother like Wentworth horrible.
“And threatens to go to the toilet if he’s left alone?” said Roland.
“Yes! Where is he?”
“That’s your brother? The only who’s permanently sticky?”
“I told you!”
“And you really want him back?
He’s my brother, Tiffany thought. What’s why got to do with it?
The Nac Mac Feegle were a bit odd. I had an incredibly hard time understanding them. When reading characters with an accent I typically get used to it after a while and can figure out most of what they’re saying. Not true with the Nac Mac Feegle. I just kind of gave up on trying to understand them. It’s a shame though because what I could understand was pretty funny.
I’m still unsure of how I feel about Discworld books. I know I did like this more than The Color of Magic. Maybe because I’m more familiar with YA fantasy than adult fantasy? The Wee Free Men definitely has some aspects of YA fantasy books: a heroine who’s trying to figure out who she is and the quest.
The idea of the story was interesting but I didn’t really like it. A land where dreams can become real and very dangerous is an awesome idea. But somehow in the book the land wasn’t as awesome as you’d think it would be. I’m not sure why that was. I guess I like the idea of Discworld (a parody of fantasy books) but when it comes down to Pratchett’s actual execution of the idea, I don’t mesh with it very well. Does that make sense?
The bottom line? It was an amusing enough book. If I wanted to continue with the Discworld books in the future, I’ll be picking up the next book in the Tiffany Aching arc. If you’re looking for a place to start with the Discworld books and you’re a fan of YA fantasy, this would be a good place for you to start.