The Wee Free Men (Discworld, #30) - Terry Pratchett image
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 Tiff 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 great. 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 the metafic in the air?).

The story itself is excellent – 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. ‘Nuff said.

After this I read: A Hat Full of Sky