Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Alas! Ana has finally convinced me to read a series out of order. You don't understand how big of a deal this is to me. It's ingrained into me to the point of a compulsion that I HAVE to read a series in the order in which is was published. Even if there are subseries within a series. Or even if there are technically books that can be read as standalones. It doesn't matter. No, no, no. Published order.....The key word being "order". But Ana has been telling me since day one that with Discworld, it's ok to jump around. So when I Shall Wear Midnight came out, I said "Well Ok...I'm going to read THAT!" But then Ana said...." can't QUITE do that Chris...first, you have to read the other Tiffany Aching books. You need to start with The Wee Free Men." And I said "Oh. Ok!" And that is what I have done. And it is with much restraint (or a busy work schedule) that I have not yet read A Hat Full of Sky, it's immediate sequel! OMG I want a Nac Mac Feegle!!!!! That would be a Wee Free Man...a little blue man...or whatever you want to call them. If I had one, I would probably adamantly say that I did not want one any longer and would someone please get rid of it, but right now I really want one so it can say "crivens" and talk in a wonderful Scottish accent and just cause general shennanigans. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Our story is about Tiffany Aching, a young girl who lives on The Chalk (the ground is made of chalk) on the farm where her grandmother once lived. Granny Aching was a quiet woman, but a woman who was well respected by all and could cure a sheep of any ailment known to man..mostly by using her sheep liniment, a liquid potent enough to get just about anyone drunk. When Granny Aching did speak though, she left words of wisdom. But Granny Aching has passed away now leaving Tiffany to her family and her little brother who is known for getting himself into sticky messes. Tiffany seems to have a gift that no one else in her family has. A gift that her Granny had as well. And that is the gift of the second sight and third thoughts! The makings of a witch. And when her brother disappears, those gifts are soon put to the test. With the help of the Wee Free Men..little men tattooed all in blue that appear seemingly from nowhere...she sets off on a journey to discover who she is, where her place is in the world, where she comes from and who she will become. I haven't said much about the Wee Free Men themselves, because I think they're best left discovered on your own :) What I can say about this book is that it's just perfect and I liked it even better than Nation, which up until now I've said is my favorite Terry Pratchett book. Of course, it was also only my second Terry Pratchett book I had read! The more Pratchett I read, the more I realize what a genius this man is. Prior to actually reading his books, I always thought he was that "clever and funny fantasy writer." And he is that...but he's so much more than that. In between the humor, and often during the humor, there are truly touching moments. And profound moments. There are "yes!" moments and moments of perfect clarity where Pratchett just seems to get it. And describe things absolutely perfectly. In this book, Pratchett tackles the idea of death quite a bit...the idea of loss, legacy, fulfillment of roles and expectations, memories, dreams, hopes and goals. Does it all so well. Better than I can describe here. You just have to read it for yourself. There was a moment when the Nac Mac Feegle talked about being dead and Tiffany exclaims to them that they're quite alive! That she sees them, feels them...and they say that no, this is heaven. That our world, the world we live in day to day is heaven. And she says "But I'M not dead" and they basically say "says who?" or "so what?". And I just loved that. Replace the idea of heaven with anything else. We assume that everything is ours. We look at everything from our point of view only without ever pausing to think of anyone else. But how much would things change and how much bigger would everything seem or how much smaller would we seem if we stopped to look at things from another perspective? This is why I love Terry Pratchett.

No comments: