Well, it has finally happened; that which I was despairing of ever occurring has come to pass: I have read a Terry Pratchett book all the way through and enjoyed it! Hurrah! I know I’ve said it before on this blog, but even though Terry Pratchett is the kind of author that I should automatically adore, given that I enjoy funny, subversive, slightly silly fantasy tales, I haven’t ever gelled with any of his books for some reason. Finally though, it has happened.
We received this new release edition of The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, being the thirtieth in the Discworld series and the first book in the Tiffany Aching five-book series, from the publisher via Netgalley and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Tiffany wants to be a witch when she grows up.
A proper one, with a pointy hat. And flying, she’s always dreamed of flying (though it’s cold up there, you have to wear really thick pants, two layers).
But she’s worried Tiffany isn’t a very ‘witchy’ name. And a witch has always protected Tiffany’s land, to stop the nightmares getting through.
Now the nightmares have taken her brother, and it’s up to her to get him back.
With a horde of unruly fairies at her disposal, Tiffany is not alone. And she is the twentieth granddaughter of her Granny Aching: shepherdess extraordinaire, and protector of the land.
Tiffany Aching. Now there’s a rather good name for a witch.
This particular edition of The Wee Free Men is being marketed as a middle grade story, hence the middle-grade-ish cover design, but I can’t imagine many a middle grader will take to Pratchett’s style of humour much and would prefer to stick to thinking of this book as an adult fantasy fiction tale. I have found when reading Pratchett before that I really enjoy the first few chapters and then my interest tapers off, but with this story I maintained my interest throughout…mostly.
Tiffany is an independent sort of a nine-year-old, having grown up under the influence of Granny Aching, the previous witch of the Chalk and owner of two fantastic dogs. Tiffany feels the pressure to be as savvy and wise as old Granny Aching was, but senses that she doesn’t quite have the stuff to be the next Chalk witch…well, not yet anyway. Once the Nac Mac Feegle – little blue crazy fighting men with thick accents – become involved however, Tiffany discovers that she’s going to have to get her witch on whether she likes it or not. Add to that the fact that a fairy queen has scarpered with her younger brother and you’ve got the makings of an adventure to remember.
I can’t say exactly what it was about this story that made it different from others of Pratchett’s that I haven’t been able to get through, but I did enjoy Tiffany’s independence mixed with her completely understandable anxieties about becoming a witch while having absolutely no witchy skills to speak of. I did lose interest a little during the parts set in the fairy world – I find hearing about dreams tedious at the best of times and this section was set entirely in a selection of dreams – but overall I found the story engaging enough that I looked forward to getting back to it.
I can now safely put the others of the Tiffany Aching sequence on my to-read list, although I’ll take things slowly.
Until next time,