The Wee, Free Men

by Terry Pratchett

HarperCollins, April, 2003.
Hardcover, 272 pages.
ISBN: 0060012366
Ages 12 and up

The Wee, Free Men by Terry Pratchett Tiffany Aching lives a rather boring life in the land of Chalk. Although she's only nine years old, Tiffany has loads of common sense, is a whiz at making cheese, watching the family sheep and looking after her extremely annoying younger brother. But when monsters from the land of Fairyland start encroaching on the Chalk and her brother disappears, Tiffany realizes that it is up to her to do something about it. She also realizes that she is a witch in training. With the help of an older witch to show her the ropes, a talking toad, a frying pan, a book about sheep ailments and remedies, and a band of Nac Mac Feegle, aka the Wee Free Men, Tiffany sets out to retrieve her brother who has now been kidnapped by the Queen of the Elves.

The Wee Free Men is set in Pratchett's Discworld universe, which is a bit like ours turned upside down. But it's not necessary to have read any of his adult books to enjoy The Wee Free Men. Tiffany has amazing adventures, and battles the Elf Queen in a horrendous land where nightmares come true. She also grows up quite a bit along the way, and becomes the temporary leader of the Wee Free Men. The tiny, blue men are absolutely hilarious. They steal sheep, curse, and love both strong drink and mischief. But they are most helpful in a crisis, and know that's it's not a smart thing to cross a witch as powerful as Tiffany. The dialogue is smart and funny and the characterizations are complex. Pratchett is a brilliant satirist, and his veiled commentary on everything from the modern educational system to the modern child rearing techniques are as thought-provoking as they are funny. This is a marvelous tale that will be enjoyed equally by children or adults.

--Claire E. White

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This review was published in the June-July, 2003 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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