The Wee Free Men

Author: Terry Pratchett
RRP 12.99
ISBN 0 385 60533 1
Available now

Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching has lost her brother. She also thinks her late Granny Aching - once a wise shepherd - might have been a witch. It is only when the Wee Free Men, tiny blue folk in kilts, turn up looking for the new "hag" that Tiffany enlists their help to rescue her brother from the Queen of Fairies...

Terry Pratchett's latest Discworld based novel is entertaining from the start. The Wee Free Men is supposed to be a book for children, but adults will find it just as entertaining - probably more so.

As we have come to expect from Pratchett's previous work, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents for example, the reader is treated with respect, never patronised and that is partly why his work is so well received by the young.

While not entirely original - a little like a cross between Hansel and Gretel and The Smurfs - The Wee Free Men is entertaining, humorous and beautifully constructed. Just how Pratchett manages to see the world through the eyes of a young girl is anyone's guess, but he does and with such detail. I began to wonder whether he had spent the best part of a week wandering around with his hair in pigtails to get into the part.

At a time when another famous writer of popular stories about witchcraft and wizardry is selling her ideas to Hollywood before she has even managed to bother committing them to paper, it is refreshing to see that there is one popular author out there who cares enough about his work to actually sit down and write books - and do it well.

This is one of Pratchett's best novels yet. He is arguably the most outrageously funny author from another plane of existence writing today. In a time when other writers in the field seem to be having trouble delivering the goods on time (You know who I mean - for God's sake she has only written four books and she is struggling to continue), Pratchett pulls a work of art out of his conjuring hat yet again.

Darren Rea


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