For ages now, I've wanted to read the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I've heard nothing but good things about it. But I have an admission to make: this series intimidates me. Not only is the sheer number of books daunting, but the strange way they are grouped into different "series with in the series". Honestly, I had absolutely no idea where to start.
And that's where Nymeth comes in. She suggested that the Tiffany Aching trilogy would be a great place to start reading Discworld. So Kailana and I decided to put our faith in Nymeth to the test, and read the first book in this particular series: The Wee Free Men (375 pgs, Harper Collins, 2003). This is Book 1 in the trilogy that is actually written for Young Adults.
Some things start before other things. It was a summer shower but didn't appear to know it, and it was pouring rain as fast as a winter storm. Miss Perspicacia Tick sat in what little shelter a raggedy hedge could give her and explored the universe. She didn't notice the rain. Witches dried out quickly.
Young Tiffany Aching has a lot going on in her life right now. She lives on the Chalk, at the Aching Family Farm. Her job there is to churn the butter and make cheese. This is a job that she's very good at it. But when she grows up, Tiffany has decided she wants to be a witch. Why a witch, you ask? Because witches KNOW things. Tiffany read the fairy tales when she was little. The handsome princes were smug and the princesses were dumb and weak and always waiting for someone else to rescue them. So she wanted to be a witch. Turns out, she really IS a witch. Tiffany's Granny Aching was the only witch on the Chalk. But when she passed away the year before, that left only Tiffany. And right now, the Chalk NEEDS a witch. The beautiful, but evil Fairy Queen has kidnapped Tiffany's younger, "sticky" brother, Wentworth.
Armed with a talking frog and a frying pan, Tiffany is going into battle, not only to save Wentworth, but the entire world from the Fairy Queen. The Queen is the mistress of dreams, and has the power to trap a person in the realm of these dreams...and nightmares. But Tiffany isn't going alone. She has help from the Nac Mac Feegle (or the Wee Free Men). These 6-inch-tall men are blue, tattooed, red-headed, and always looking for a good fight. If fact, they will fight anyone, drink anything, and steal whatever isn't nailed down!
Terry Pratchett has a huge following. Now I can see why. His writing is smart, funny and surprisingly insightful, with a bit of social commentary here and there. He takes this rather twisted fairy tale and he makes it work. He gives us a nine-year-old dairymaid as a hero...and he makes it work. This book was a quick read because once I got started, I couldn't put it down. I loved every page!! And I will definitely be reading more Tiffany Aching....and more Discworld! 4.75/5
Now that I've given you a bit of information about the book itself, I will give you the answers to Kailana's Questions :
1. What did you think of Tiffany Aching? Was she a good character that you look forward to reading more about?I LOVED Tiffany!! As you know, I'm always up for a book with a good, strong female protagonist. But Tiffany takes the cake. Not only is she incredibly smart for her nine-years, but she is fearless. Armed with only her brain and a frying pan, Tiffany takes off to the dream world to find her brother. A brother that she really doesn't even like very much. But Wentworth is HER brother and damned if anyone is going to steal him away!
Besides being strong and smart, Tiffany also has a really wonderful moral compass. It upset her alot when a woman in her village was accused of being a witch. When the baron's son disappeared, people accused an old woman of being a witch. So the people of the village went to Mrs. Snapperly's cottage. They killed her cat, burned her books and turned her out. The poor lady then died in the snow that winter because no one would help her. Tiffany said THIS is the reason she wants to be a witch: so this kind of thing would never happen again. Tiffany is shrewd, sharp and courageous. I love this girl!!
And yes, I'm going to continue reading through the Tiffany Aching trilogy!!
2. What did you think of the Wee Free Men? Did they add or take away from the book?
I loved the Wee Free Men!! How could you not love men with names like Rob Anybody, Daft Wullie, and Not-as-big-as-Medium-Sized-Jock-but-bigger-than-Wee-Jock-Jock? And although understanding their Scottish brogue was a little difficult, the main ideas made it through. They like to drink, fight, and steal!! Not only did they add to the book, they stole it right away.3. What was your favourite scene in the book? Why?
Hmmm...I had a lot of scenes in this book that I loved. Quite a few made me laugh out loud. But if I had to choose just one it would probably be the scene where Tiffany meets up with the water monster, Jenny Green-Teeth. She first sees it when she is out by the river. A few of Nac Mac Feegle try to warn her about the creature. But Tiffany heeds the warnings and decides to take care of the creature herself. So she sets a trap (of course, she uses her little brother as bait) and when the creature comes out of the water, she cracks it with the frying pan.
I think the reasdon I liked this scene so much was because it's the first time we get to see what Tiffany is made of. She's not a timid little girl at all, but a force with which to be reckoned!
For the record, I just want to thank Kailana for her patience with my freaky-busy schedule. I loved the buddy read!! A special thanks to Nymeth for recommending such a great book as a starting place for Discworld!! You know you rock!!