Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First Discworld Book!! (Buddy Read with Kailana!)

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!!


Meghan said...

I have read some Discworld, but not this trilogy. Clearly I have to change that! It sounds great.

Marg said...

I have read a number of Discworld books but haven't read this trilogy. A couple of times I have thought about starting from the beginning again and working my way through.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

The only two I've read are the first two and Nymeth has assured me they aren't the best (although I really enjoyed them). Has she shown you the website that has the reading guide?

I don't know if it has ALL the books, but it does give a little bit of direction.

Glad you liked your first experience!

Kailana said...

I am looking forward to reading the next one. Thanks for reading and reviewing with me!

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

I haven't tried anything by Pratchett yet, but now you've convinced me I should! I don't know why I've always resist the temptation... but it sounds like you had a great time.

Kim L said...

Oh man, I really need to add some Terry Prachett to my list because I keep hearing everyone rave about them and I'm just out of the loop! Thanks for sharing

chrisa511 said...

Ok...I think I'm convinced now that I need to read this series. I was hooked on reading the entire Discworld series in order, but I really REALLY want to read this book!!

Booklogged said...

I loved The Wee Free Men! I listened to it on audio and the Scottish brogue was delightful. Later I bought an illustrated copy.

There's a website that shows all but the latest novels in a fun way:

I like the excel spreadsheet. The beauty of the Discworld is that each book is really a stand alone novel (except for the first 2). You can read them in any order and not miss out on the story. I've read several and find that to be true. The chart really indicates the character(s) that are the most dominant in the book, but that doesn't mean you won't see that character in other books.

The spreadsheet was prepared by a fan of Discworld and not by Terry Pratchett. Also, the spreadsheet doesn't follow the same order that the books were written. If you're interested in the chronological order you can find it on Wikipedia.

You've put me in the mood to read another Pratchett. Maybe Wintersmith.

Booklogged said...

Gee, I got all wrapped up in sharing information I forgot to mention how glad I am that you've dipped into the Discworld water. Loved your review - it helped bring back to memory some of the things I loved about this book. Didn't you just love when Tiffany was teaching Rob Anybody to read?

Ana S. said...

Oh Stephanie, I can't tell you how ridiculously happy I am that you loved it :D I had a feeling you would. I like how you said, "surprisingly insightful" - that's what I keep telling people :P The man is hilarious, yes, but there's so much more to it than that. He's also sensitive and perceptive, and he knows more about how people work than any other writer I can think of.

Ana S. said...

PS: The L-Space chart has all the books except for Making Money, which goes after Going Postal.

MissSusie said...

You started with the right book this series is my favorite of all the Terry Pratchett books!

Anonymous said...

Ooo I'm definitely going to add this to my wish list. I was daunted by Terry Prachett too, but after reading your review I think I would like it! Thanks!


Anonymous said...

This is my favourite Pratchett series and I hope you keep reading as they get even better. The problem with the adult books is some are very hit and miss, but this is a short series of 3 and stays awesome all the way through!

Mal said...

The Tiffany books are great. Personally I just read all the books in order of publication. I do like The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic still because it's where it all started for me, but the stories definitely get better the more of them you read.

Jill said...

Congratulations on your first Discworld read! I'm glad (but not at all surprised) that you enjoyed it. You should listen to the audio version some time - it is unbelievably good!