In the first chapter of The Wee Free Men, Tiffany Aching accidentally discovers her destiny. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
AHHHHH NEW DISCWORLD BOOK, EVERYONE. And thanks to Timothy, first of all, for lending me his copy of the illustrated version of The Wee Free Men, since I do tend to enjoy artistic representations of books. (I even find that I consume more fanart than fanfiction these days.) Stephen Playing’s illustrations are a little different than Paul Kidby’s, namely in that they feel a lot smoother in the line work. And the layout itself is really fucking cool, so if you enjoy this book, I’d recommend the illustrated version and I HAVE ONLY READ ONE CHAPTER OF IT.
Anyway, there’s so much here to talk about! I have one big question to start things off: Where the hell is this set??? I don’t recall mention of the Chalk in any previous Discworld books. I know it’s been nearly four years since I started reading these books (how the fuck?!?!?!?), so I could have missed a passing reference to it. THIS HAS CERTAINLY HAPPENED BEFORE.
But there’s another reason why I ask this question. Miss Tick comes from some place where treating witches poorly is the norm. Where the hell is that? This passage in particular mystified me:
If one of the risks of your job is being thrown into a pond with your hands tied together, then the ability to swim thirty yards underwater, fully clothed, plus the ability to lurk under the weeks breathing air through a hollow reed, count as nothing if you aren’t also amazingly good with knots.
She presents this all so casually, y’all. This has to be so common that it warrants this form of narration, so… how? This is certainly not how witches are treated… well, actually, sometimes they are. Granny, Nanny, Agnes, and Magrat have all had to deal with poor treatment from other people. In general, though—and especially in the Ramtops—you respect witches. It’s most fear, of course, but I can’t see anyone throwing those witches into a pond, you know? Plus, there seem to be all these little hints that Miss Tick is from somewhere else. Where is that place?
That being said, this is the Tiffany Aching show, and she absolutely SHINES in this first chapter. I have no idea if she’s a recurring character (I think she is???), but I believe she’s the first young woman to be a major narrator since Esk. (WHO I MISS.) (Does Susan count?) She’s a lot younger than most characters who get page time in the series, but I hesitate to say that this makes this a young adult book. It might be! The narrative style still fits in well with the rest of the Discworld books, and you’ve still got Pratchett’s playful tone.
BUT I AM JUST SO INTO TIFFANY’S ANGER. Look, I know I’m biased here, given that my very first book is also about being young and angry, but this was the first thing that I latched on to while reading The Wee Free Men. Tiffany is warned about the underwater monster that made the Nac Mac Feagle abandon their hunt, and instead of just leaving it all behind, she plans. SHE PLOTS. She goes home, pulls out a book to do RESEARCH, and then
LITERALLY. She uses her brother as bait and smashes the monster on its head with a FRYING PAN, and I’m assuming that was what she found in the book? Oh my god, I love every bit of this: that she was furious that the monster would ruin her day; that she went home and did research on how to destroy it; THAT THIS IS WHAT MAKES HER PASS THE WITCH TEST. I’m just… what a way to open a book, y’all. I CAN’T WAIT.
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