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The Wee Free Men

by

The Wee Free Men Cover

ISBN13: 9780060012380
ISBN10: 0060012382
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

Chapter One
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 into 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 riverbank 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 from 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: susurruss — susurrusss . . .

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!"

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 riverbank 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...

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

nrlymrtl, March 13, 2013 (view all comments by nrlymrtl)
I’ve read this book perhaps 4 times over the past few years. It makes me laugh, a lot, out loud. My man is terribly tired of me reading bits out to him while giggling, especially when I am trying to do a Feegle accent. Terrible, terrible. Tiffany is so easy to connect with, and root for. The mix of humor and moments of seriousness is perfect, creating a story that I can return to again and again. The Feegles are 6 inches or shorter, generally drunk, quick to lift stuff, and fiercely loyal once attached to a person or cause. They are also the source of much of my amusement.

Tiffany herself is not shy about swinging that frying pan around either. She is always thinking, which turns out to be key for saving the day in this book. Her Granny Aching provided some of the most poignant scenes in the book, even though she is dead. Her deep, yet simple, connection to her granddaughter was key in shaping the young lady she is to become. Also, both Tiffany and Granny Aching are incredibly practical people; I like their boots. Terry Pratchett did the Discworld universe and his fans a service when he created Tiffany Aching and the Nac Mac Feegle �" thank you Sir Pratchett!
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LucyP, August 6, 2012 (view all comments by LucyP)
I enjoyed reading this book with my kids. It has been a long time since I have read a book that made me laugh out loud. I still smile months later when I think of some of the passages in the book.
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Margareto, September 3, 2010 (view all comments by Margareto)
Wonderful book! This book is what you would get if Labyrinth (the David Bowie movie) had a baby with Fried Green Tomatoes then gave it to Tolkien to raise. I can’t wait to read the next one.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780060012380
Author:
Pratchett, Terry
Publisher:
HarperTrophy
Author:
by Terry Pratchett
Author:
Pratche
Author:
tt, Terry
Subject:
Girls & Women
Subject:
Action & Adventure
Subject:
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Fantasy
Subject:
Humorous Stories
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - Science Fiction
Subject:
Children s All Ages - Fiction - Science Fiction
Subject:
Action & Adventure - General
Subject:
Fantasy & Magic
Subject:
Witches
Subject:
Fairies
Subject:
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20060831
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
from 7
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.89 in 15.84 oz
Age Level:
12-17

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » General
Children's » Humor
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Science Fiction and Fantasy » Featured Titles
Young Adult » General

The Wee Free Men Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$5.50 In Stock
Product details 400 pages HarperTrophy - English 9780060012380 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The latest adventure set in Pratchett's sprawling, free-form Discworld boasts a winning heroine, the plucky young witch-in-training Tiffany Aching. Funny, sassy and spirited ('She preferred the witches to the smug handsome princes and especially to the stupid smirking princesses, who didn't have the sense of a beetle'), the heroine turns what might have been a simple adventure yarn (although nothing Pratchett does is ever simple, really) into an enthralling and rewarding read. What's not to love about a teenage girl who takes on vicious monsters, armed with only a frying pan? Her bravery will win over not only readers but the Wee Free Men of the title, the Nac Mac Feegle-puckish, (somewhat) lovable imps who exude a certain charm despite their innate and unrepentant kleptomania. The Nac Mac Feegle come to Tiffany's aid when her younger brother Wentworth is kidnapped; the ultimate showdown between Tiffany and the cold-hearted Queen of the Elves transpires as a joyous triumph of innocence over cruel ambition. As always, Pratchett weaves eminently quotable morsels (a person-turned-toad warns of the perils of fairy godmothers: 'Never cross a woman with a star on a stick... they've got a mean streak'), into his artfully constructed prose. Some of the characteristically punny humor may pass over the heads of younger readers, but plenty of other delights will keep them hooked. Ages 12-up. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[T]he satiric sense of humor is perfect for anyone who enjoys The Princess Bride and the works of Douglas Adams. A wonderfully funny fantasy for all ages."
"Review" by , "The baby's rescue is accomplished with unrelenting drama, large servings of Pratchett's ironic humor, and a unique cast of characters....Set in a chillingly unrecognizable 'fairyland,' this ingenious mélange of fantasy, action, humor, and sly bits of social commentary contains complex underlying themes of the nature of love, reality, and dreams. The Carnegie Medal-winner's fans will not be disappointed."
"Review" by , "A glorious read."
"Review" by , "Just the package to appeal to those who admire not just a brave heart but a quick comeback as well."
"Review" by , "The humor and the danger will appeal to Discworld fans and also readers who relish J. K. Rowling's Harry."
"Review" by , "Good solid storytelling that reads like Celtic mythology fused with Buffy the Vampire Slayer with dialogue by Robert Burns."
"Synopsis" by , A young witch-to-be named Tiffany teams up with the Wee Free Men, a clan of six-inch-high blue men, to rescue her baby brother and ward off a sinister invasion from Fairyland.
"Synopsis" by , A nightmarish danger threatens from the other side of reality . . .

Armed with only a frying pan and her common sense, young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching must defend her home against the monsters of Fairyland. Luckily she has some very unusual help: the local Nac Mac Feegle—aka the Wee Free Men—a clan of fierce, sheep-stealing, sword-wielding, six-inch-high blue men.

Together they must face headless horsemen, ferocious grimhounds, terrifying dreams come true, and ultimately the sinister Queen of the Elves herself. . . .

A Story of Discworld

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