The Wee Free Men: The First Tiffany Aching Adventure (Discworld Series #30)

The Wee Free Men: The First Tiffany Aching Adventure (Discworld Series #30)

by Terry Pratchett


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060012380
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/15/2006
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 52,521
Product dimensions: 0.00(w) x 0.00(h) x (d)
Lexile: 680L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A Clang Well Done

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.

The exploring of the universe was being done with a couple of twigs tied together with string, a stone with a hole in it, an egg, one of Miss Tick's stockings which also had a hole in it, a pin, a piece of paper and a tiny stub of pencil. Unlike wizards, witches learn to make do with a little.

The items had been tied and twisted together to make a . . . device. It moved oddly when she prodded it. One of the sticks seemed to pass right through the egg, for example, and came out the other side without leaving a mark.

'Yes,' she said quietly, as rain poured off the rim of her hat. 'There it is. A definite ripple in the walls of the world. Very worrying. There's probably another world making contact. That's never good. I ought to go there. But . . . according to my left elbow, there's a witch there already . . .'

'She'll sort it out, then,' said a small and, for now, mysterious voice from somewhere near her feet.

'No, it can't be right. That's chalk country over that way,' said Miss Tick. 'You can't grow a good witch on chalk. The stuff's barely harder than clay. You need good hard rock to grow a witch, believe me.' Miss Tick shook her head, sending raindrops flying. 'But my elbows are generally very reliable.'

'Why talk about it? Let's go and see,' said the voice. 'We're not doing very well around here, are we?'

That was true. The lowlands weren't good to witches. Miss Tick was making pennies by doing bits of medicine and misfortune-telling, and slept in barns most nights. She'd twice been thrown in ponds.

'I can't barge in,' she said. 'Not on another witch's territory. That never, ever works. But . . .' she paused, 'witches don't just turn up out of nowhere. Let's have a look . . .'

She pulled a cracked saucer out of her pocket, and tipped into it the rainwater that had collected on her hat. Then she took a bottle of ink out of another pocket and poured in just enough to turn the water black.

She cupped it in her hands to keep the raindrops out, and listened to her eyes.

Tiffany Aching was lying on her stomach by the river, tickling trout. She liked to hear them laugh. It came up in bubbles.

A little way away, where the river bank became a sort of pebble beach, her brother Wentworth was messing around with a stick, and almost certainly making himself sticky.

Anything could make Wentworth sticky. Washed and dried and left in the middle of a clean floor for five minutes, Wentworth would be sticky. It didn't seem to come from anywhere. He just got sticky. But he was an easy child to mind, provided you stopped him eating frogs.

There was a small part of Tiffany's brain that wasn't too certain about the name Tiffany. She was nine years old and felt that Tiffany was going to be a hard name to live up to. Besides, she'd decided only last week that she wanted to be a witch when she grew up, and she was certain Tiffany just wouldn't work. People would laugh.

Another and larger part of Tiffany's brain was thinking of the word 'susurrus'. It was a word that not many people have thought about, ever. As her fingers rubbed the trout under its chin she rolled the word round and round in her head.

Susurrus . . . according to her grandmother's dictionary, it meant 'a low soft sound, as of whispering or muttering'. Tiffany liked the taste of the word. It made her think of mysterious people in long cloaks whispering important secrets behind a door: susurrususssurrusss . . .

She'd read the dictionary all the way through. No one told her you weren't supposed to.

As she thought this, she realized that the happy trout had swum away. But something else was in the water, only a few inches from her face.

It was a round basket, no bigger than half a coconut shell, coated with something to block up the holes and make it float. A little man, only six inches high, was standing up in it. He had a mass of untidy red hair, into which a few feathers, beads and bits of cloth had been woven. He had a red beard, which was pretty much as bad as the hair. The rest of him that wasn't covered with blue tattoos was covered with a tiny kilt. And he was waving a fist at her, and shouting:

'Crivens! Gang awa' oot o' here, ye daft wee hinny! 'Ware the green heid!'

And with that he pulled at a piece of string that was hanging over the side of his boat and a second red-headed man surfaced, gulping air.

'Nae time for fishin'!' said the first man, hauling him aboard. 'The green heid's coming!'

'Crivens!' said the swimmer, water pouring off him. 'Let's offski!'

And with that he grabbed one very small oar and, with rapid back and forth movements, made the basket speed away.

'Excuse me!' Tiffany shouted. 'Are you fairies?'

But there was no answer. The little round boat had disappeared in the reeds.

Probably not, Tiffany decided.

Then, to her dark delight, there was a susurrus. There was no wind, but the leaves on the alder bushes by the river bank began to shake and rustle. So did the reeds. They didn't bend, they just blurred. Everything blurred, as if something had picked up the world and was shaking it. The air fizzed. People whispered behind closed doors . . .

The water began to bubble, just under the bank. It wasn't very deep here - it would only have reached Tiffany's knees if she'd paddled - but it was suddenly darker and greener and, somehow, much deeper . . .

She took a couple of steps backwards just before long skinny arms fountained out of the water and clawed madly at the bank where she had been. For a moment she saw a thin face with long sharp teeth, huge round eyes and dripping green hair like waterweed, and then the thing plunged back into the depths.

By the time the water closed over it Tiffany was already running along the bank to the little beach where Wentworth was making frog pies. She snatched up the child just as a stream of bubbles came around the curve in the bank. Once again the water boiled, the green-haired creature shot up, and the long arms clawed at the mud. Then it screamed, and dropped back into the water.

'I wanna go-a toy-lut!' screamed Wentworth.

Tiffany ignored him. She was watching the river with a thoughtful expression.

I'm not scared at all, she thought. How strange. I ought to be scared, but I'm just angry. I mean, I can feel the scared, like a red-hot ball, but the angry isn't letting it out . . .

'Wenny wanna wanna wanna go-a toy-lut!' Wentworth shrieked.

'Go on, then,' said Tiffany, absent-mindedly. The ripples were still sloshing against the bank.

There was no point in telling anyone about this. Everyone would just say 'What an imagination the child has' if they were feeling in a good mood, or 'Don't tell stories!' if they weren't.

She was still very angry. How dare a monster turn up in the river? Especially one so . . . so . . . ridiculous! Who did it think she was?

From the Trade Paperback edition.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Ethically challenging, beautifully orchestrated, philosophically opposed to the usual plot fixes of fantasy.”
 — Guardian

“A passion for language, wordplay and puns bursts from the pages.”
Daily Telegraph

"Funny, terrifying and enlightening and quite, quite brilliant."

"Plenty to laugh at here, not least Pratchett's ability to put a 90 degree spin on the familiar."
The Times

"Teen witch Tiffany is one of [Terry Pratchett's] most formidable creations yet."
Time Out

"Ingenious mélange of fantasy, action, humour, and sly bits of social commentary."
Kirkus Reviews

Customer Reviews

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The Wee Free Men: The First Tiffany Aching Adventure (Discworld Series #30) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 207 reviews.
Bob_the_Director More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett has never written a bad book. The wit and wisdom of Mr. Pratchett is incredible and he'll make you laugh your guts out. The Wee Free Men is another great one by the master of farcical fantasy. A young farm girl follows her little brother into Fairyland and the Elf Queen who kidnapped him. The Wee Free Men (little blue men with flaming red hair with scottish brogues), know as Feegles, introduced in earlier works from the Discworld Series are here to help her. These guys will fight anything or anyone. Except Lawyers, who are terrifying to the little blue battle frenzying guys. With the help of the Feegles the girl is out to rescue her bratty baby brother and hilarity ensues. Three famous characters from the Discworld series show up for cameos and a promise of things to come for the young witch (age 9). Great story to read aloud to kids if you can handle the Scottish Brogue of the dialogue. Make sure you have time to stay up late to finish another comedic page turner form dear Mr. Pratchett.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely fantastic. Tiffany is the girl I wish I had been when I was young and hope my daughters will be.
paper_angel21 More than 1 year ago
The phone eReaders (I have a Blackberry Curve) may not be able to handle the footnotes. Terry Pratchett often includes extensive footnotes that add to the story and are fun to read! Spoke with technical support, who confirmed that it would not work with some phones (maybe all). The links do work on the computer, but who only reads books on their computer?? Wasn't able to get any credit for the book either. Sadly the story seems fun and being able to read the footnotes would make it so much better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally reccommend this book so awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first foray into the world of Terry Pratchett and Discworld. Loved it. Tiffany was the perfect heroine, unsure of herself at first, gradually gaining confidence in her witch skills. The Wee Free Men were hilarious.
Twilights_Moon More than 1 year ago
Terry Pratchett never disappoints. Tiffany Aching is quick, clever, and she has the hilarious Wee Free Men on her side. Great read, I didn't want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imagine this: You are in a dark theater. You check the program. The play? The Wee Free Men. The curtain goes up. You have entered Discworld. The play is about a nine-year old witch. Tiffany Aching. She was just another child on the farm... till she saw Jenny Greenteeth. You watch, entranced as she befriends the Nac Mac Feegles, and becomes their kelda. She then enlists their help to venture into the heart of Fairyland and rescue her kidnapped younger brother. The curtains close. A moment of silence. Your eardrums explode.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The introductory story of Tiffany & the Nac Mac Feegles is hilarious: what happens when fairy-tale monsters meet up with someone who has (Un)Common Sense, even if that someone is a child. Pratchett is a genius of satire, and this book is no exception.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A quick read that is a lot of fun. The interesting lead character is a spunky young lady that keeps the story moving along. While the target audience is young, it is a great read for us more mature people also.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We love all of his books. Highly recommended although you may well become a discworld addict.
Raven on LibraryThing 8 months ago
(I'm not actually making a deliberate effort to re-read all of the Discworld, it just... seems that way.)I'd forgotten the plot of this one, I have to say. The reason, which I discovered on this re-read, is that it... doesn't actually have one. This being a novel by Terry Pratchett, this isn't as much of a problem as one might think. In brief: Tiffany Aching, a shepherd's daughter from the Chalk, a part of the Discworld not entirely unlike Wiltshire, meets a horrible monster in a stream near her family's farm. Being a sensible, careful, logical sort of person, she hauls off and hits it with a frying-pan, using her little brother as bait. And that sets up how this story is going to go, right there. There are going to be magical goings-on, but they're going to be dealt with. Decisively. Tiffany, who is one of my favourite of the Discworld characters, is intelligent, sardonic, logical to the point of coldness, and a beautifully-observed, whole character who is perfectly capable of carrying the whole novel. Her story is told in bits and pieces throughout, and it is very much her story, despite the title of the novel.Which isn't to say that the Nac Mac Feegle don't have their place. They're wonderful - and I much prefer them in this friendlier, slightly-easier-to-understand version (the "adult novel" versions of them in Carpe Jugulum are much less fun), complete with shouts of "Crivens!" and "waily, waily, waily" and tendency to get pished. And more than that, they are a wonderful change from the usual sorts of little helpers that accompany young female heroines in kids' books about magic.Of course, once the story has all been set up, and the landscape of the Chalk, Tiffany and her family, and the Feegles' existence and slightly crazed theology have been given the attention they need, there isn't a lot of room left for plot, and the "rescuing brother from evil snow Queen" is far too The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for words. But once it all has been set up, it's there for Wintersmith and A Hat Full of Sky, and those have all the good points of this novel, plus wonders of their own.
catherinestead on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Tiffany Aching wants to be a witch when she grows up - but in the meantime she puts her incipient skills to good use rescuing her small and very sticky brother from the clutches of The Queen, aided only by a toad, a frying pan and a band of tiny, blue-skinned barbarian pictsies.I wasn't sure whether I'd like the Tiffany Aching books, given that I don't read a lot of YA lit. Beyond the fact that the main protagonists (well, the human ones) are children and the relative simplicity of the verbal puns, there's not a lot of difference between this and the adult Discworld books.Tiffany is an excellent character whose self-awareness grows a lot through the course of the book. I adored the Nac Mac Feegle, who hurtle with riotous abandon through the pages leaving chaos (but nothing that isn't nailed down) being them.This is a gloriously effervescent story, which has me really looking forward to A Hat Full of Sky and Wintersmith.
ClicksClan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I've been hurtling through the remaining Discworld books recently. The reading bug caught up with me again this March, presumably because I have an assignment that I should really actually be working on instead so therefore everything is looking much more interesting and fun instead. It makes me a little bit sad to think that I'm getting through them all so quickly because I get excited each time I come around to my top shelf and the next Discworld book.Anyway, The Wee Free Men is the second of the young adult Discworld novels and the first featuring Tiffany Aching. Tiffany is a young witch (although when the book begins she isn't really yet) whose brother is stolen by the 'Queen' and who she sets about trying to rescue with the help of a host of small blue pictsies.When I met Terry Pratchett, many, many years ago, The Wee Free Men had been published fairly recently (in fact, I think that perhaps it was part of the publicity for the book that he gave the talk I attended). I remember him talking about the idea of the pictsies but aside from brief mentions of them in other books in the series, I hadn't read this one before, so this was my first real introduction to them.I actually have a funny feeling that he read the first chapter to us when we met him. It was the strangest thing reading it for myself. Either I've picked it up and just read the first chapter on my own at some point, or he read it to us. I knew exactly what was going to happen before I read it.I have enjoyed the previous glimpses of the Wee Free Men in previous books, but it was really good to learn more about them. Terry Pratchett has such a fantastic way of creating the whole Discworld, I loved the whole social structure of the pictsies, with the Kelda and all the men. I loved the way they spoke too. They're deliberately meant to be a bit of a mickey take of Scots and it's done very well. I love the way that the accent is reproduced in the book. There are a couple of points where Tiffany accidentally slips into their dialect, which is hilarious because I've been here for almost half my life and I find myself doing it still but I'm so English it sounds ridiculous.As always, the humour is brilliant. I know that Discworld humour isn't for everyone, but it's so clever. I always like it when I get a little nod or reference to something in the real world. For example, the Wee Free Men make use of war poets, who recite (bad) poetry to scare off their enemies. These poets are called Gonnagles and the particular one who crops up in this story is called William, a little nod to William McGonagall (seriously, if you've never heard of him, Google him).I'm really looking forward to the next Tiffany Aching book (A Hat Full Of Sky) which I believe I started reading or at least skimmed through a few years back but when I realised it was the second in the series, I put it down. I love her as a character and as I'm a big fan of the Witches books, I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress. I feel like of like Equal Rites could have worked well as a young adult book. I think these would also be a good introduction to the Discworld books for someone who didn't know where to begin, starting with The Wee Free Men and then moving onto the original Witches books. It's a good bridge in the series, if you don't mind going backwards.And as a random, totally unrelated note. I very nearly picked up and American copy of the book while I was in Oban on Saturday. I had no reason to buy it but I did get very excited at first because Oxfam had a massive stack of Discworld books (which went more or less up to the same place in the series that I've got up to, so no cheap secondhand Discworld books for me). Having a totally different cover to all the others meant that it just stood out and caught my eye.I've now finished the entire first shelf of my bookcase now, which means it won't be too long before I'm actually finished with all the Discworld books to date. Next up is one of my favourite
adriannebaker85 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
`Wee Free Men¿ is a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. Tiffany Aching¿s little brother is kidnapped by the Queen of another world ¿ a world where your dreams and nightmares come true. Tiffany sets off on a journey to rescue him with a large pair of boots and a frying pan. She meets up with the Wee Free Men, a band of brothers bent on fighting and drinking who assist her on her journey. Tiffany also wants to become a witch and this factors into her adventures.I read a lot of Pratchett books when I was younger and really enjoyed them. This book however did not really cut it for me. I find Pratchett to be rather wordy and sometimes unclear. He is a humorous writer, no doubt about that, but I guess I have grown out of his style. It is an interesting plot line, but I wish certain aspects of it were a little bit more developed, for example, Tiffany meets a witch who is briefly involved with the story but then disappears almost completely until the very end of the story. I think if the witch was a little more involved somehow the story line would be more interesting and maybe have held me a little better as a reader.
sleepydumpling on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Lots of fun. Some brilliant laugh out loud moments.
hjjugovic on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Oh wonderful wonderful wonderful! The nonillustrated version was a fantastic new story by Pratchett, and this illustrated version does the original justice. There are details on every single page, including adorable wee free men trying to steal the letters off the page. Every child should own this!
cmbohn on LibraryThing 9 months ago
I just finished the audio version of this book and really enjoyed it. Tiffany Aching is tired of taking care of her little brother Wentworth. But when he's kidnapped by fairies, Tiffany decides to get him back. Maybe her recent decision to become a witch will help her on this. And then there's the Nac Mac Feegles - pictsies. They just might help. If they can stay sober long enough. And if she explains things in very, very simple terms.Not a very good summary, but I can tell you that this is one seriously funny book that was a great read. I love Terry Pratchett. If you like fantasy or like to laugh, you should give his books a try.
ewyatt on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Tiffany Aching is a tough cookie. She is identified as a witch, taking after Granny Aching, and suddenly thrust into the responsibility of keeping the world safe from the evil Queen and the other dangers of the fairy world. When her brother is taken by the queen, Tiffany is determined to get him back. The Nac Mac Feegle (the wee free men) brought a lot of comic relief and action to the story. They are famous for their fighting, drinking, and stealing, and certainly demonstrate that reputation.
ironicqueery on LibraryThing 9 months ago
I was hesitant to being the Tiffany Aching Adventure series by Terry Pratchett. I love his adult Discworld books so much, I was afraid his attempts at young adult fiction would be subpar and spoil his genius for me. After reading The Wee Free Men, I'm now just disappointed that I waited so long to read it. While the familiar Discworld characters are absent, Pratchett's fabulous writing is not. The new characters rank right up there with the Discworld characters and the plot is not watered down for younger readers. If anything, perhaps it's not sufficiently different to account for younger readers. The Wee Free Men are wonderful characters, complete with Scottish accents. Tiffany is also a wonderful new addition and has the makings of a wonderful, matter-of-fact, witch. Political and current events satire is missing, but the references to our own world is alive and strong and readers will enjoy making the connections. Overall, another great book by Pratchett, in which he flaunts his writing range and mastery with ease.
JNSelko on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Love the Wee Free Men! More please, sir.
391 on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Tiffany Aching, armed with only a frying pan and a horde of wee free men (not pixies, but pictsies - slightly more havoc-wreaking and certainly more drunk than the other type) takes on The Queen of the Faeries, to rescue her little brother. The Wee Free Men isn't just a great young adult book, it's a great book, period. Tiffany should be held up as a role model for young girls. I want to send along copies of this book to all my cousins, nieces and assorted family, because Mr. Pratchett has done such a spectacular job of creating such a deeply awesome story.
ejl on LibraryThing 9 months ago
I love this book. Tiffany Aching is a great character. This book has great appeal to girls. Tiffany is a strong, resilient role model.
SeditiousBroom on LibraryThing 9 months ago
I discounted Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men when it first hit bookshelves. The reviews said it was aimed at teens. I may love almost all the novels based in The Disc World, but I didn't much feel like reading something that would likely make me feel patronized. Hat Full of Sky, the sequel, received the same treatment from me.Then I saw mister Pratchett in person during his tour for the third Tiffany Aching book, Wintersmith. Forget that the coldest season is practically my deity. Leave aside that I cry when I see snow for the first time each year. I sat in an audience while a man with a frail, nervous body; big, brown hat; very little ego; and scalpel wit effortlessly made me laugh over and over again. He talked of the book, his process of writing, reached up the aisle, and liberally applied a flamethrower to my muse. She has been all but unstoppable since.Wintersmith was such a joy that I read it four times in as many months. I read the other two books in the series. I ordered hardback copies.I'm reading The Wee Free Men again this week. I can see that it really is meant for young readers. Yet, just because the book's setting is a fantasy world, most words are easily read, and the more complex phrases are explained doesn't mean that the book is simple. Not by a long shot. She leaned down, and centuries bent with her. "The secret is not to dream," she whispered. "The secret is to wake up. Waking up is harder. I have woken up and I am real. I know where I come from and I know where I'm going. You cannot fool me anymore. Or touch me. Or anything that is mine." I'll never be like this again, she thought, as she saw the terror in the Queen's face. I'll never again feel as tall as the sky and as old as the hills and as strong as the sea. I've been given something for a while, and the price of it is that I have to give it back.Those few paragraphs in particular ram a spear through my chest every time, and they are not alone in their potency. Each of the three books, especially Wintersmith, make me laugh very often and fight back tears at least once or twice per read. I find a few of mister Pratchett's books to be funnier. Many of his plots are less obvious. However, nothing of his that I have read is more powerful. I love this series.
serpentkills on LibraryThing 9 months ago
Of all the Discworld books I've read, and admittedly there haven't been that many, this has got to be my favorite. I knew it was going to be a great book as soon as the protagonist walloped Jenny Green Teeth in the face with a frying pan. And I'm not sure it's possible to read this book and not love the Nac Mac Feegle.I don't actually have anything bad to say about this book, so I think I'll stop the gushing there. Suffice it to say, it was fantastic and I highly recommend it.
mposey82 on LibraryThing 9 months ago
The first in the Tiffany Aching series. Where to begin. I continue to enjoy the children's works by Pratchett. With Tiffany he continues to give complex flawed characters that are often absent from the target audience of this literature. What I love most about Tiffany is that while she is smart, self reliant and ready to think on her feet she is annoyed by her kid brother, doesn't enjoy her chores, thinks petty thoughts and in general is a real person. Also how do you resist any story with the nac mac feegle