Books

Book Review: The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

“Crivens!” Now that I got that under the way, we can start the review. Okay, one more. I promise. “Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willnae be fooled again!” Does anything else have to be said about the book? I believe those two sentences sum everything up. Sure Big wee hag or Tiffany Aching’s heroism should maybe be mentioned that you get a better picture of what the book is about. And I might clarify for those unfamiliar with the two lines quoted at the beginning, those are the go-tos of Nac Mac Feegles, pixies who steal everything that isn’t nailed down. Scratch that, they will snatch those and the nails too if they are in the mood. I love the blue men. They are a character that can’t be defeated or fooled. No wonder as they are already dead and have matching psychology for that.

The Wee Free Men is a beautiful story about sorrow, loss, and finding oneself. It is a story of how Tiffany comes to be who she truly is. And I think Tiffany is a fantastic character with depth. The best part of the book is her first thought, second thoughts, and third thoughts. Those are what make this a special book for me. I haven’t come across many pieces of fictional writing that explain we humans (some of us at least) have an inner speech that can help us with life. If you have a strong inner speech that catches your own shortcomings, that is a gift. But it is not something you cannot acquire, something you have or don’t have. I recently watched a lecture about consciousness, and it spoke about training your reflection, how you can be tuned better with yourself, what your body and mind tell you about the world around you, and about your reactions to it. It is stopping and seeing what goes inside you. And going through those moments. (It is what makes you a good witch in Pratchett’s book.) Oh yes, it can be a curse to have too. To get stuck inside your own mind, to a loop going around and around a subject that will do you know good. But for me, that is a better thing to suffer than have no reflection at all. Have no insight into what is going on with yourself and your reactions. Tiffany portrays beautifully how inner speech works and what you can do with it both in the good and bad times. How sometimes, it is a better thing if you don’t trust it. Especially when there are fairy Queens around.

I remember the first time I picked up this book. I had read all the other Discworld novels and thought okay, I have to stoop to read the YA ones. (I was foolish back then and full of myself, believing to be an adult. You know what that is like if you have suffered past that stage.) From the bottomless sea of the Jolly Sailor Tobacco package, I was wrong. I loved this book so much. It is raw with emotion. It has such great characters, and the story teaches you about life. It doesn’t talk down to you. It doesn’t take you as a fool. It speaks about real issues. Not about clamor, as so often books are about nowadays. This one has substance.

I still love this book after rereading it. Especially the ending. With the second reading, I could appreciate more about the subtle way Pratchett writes and how he pulls everything together. I understood more about the third sight and first sight and second sight or speech as it is with Tiffany, unlike Cranny. I can see the future now, and Tiffany is the right person to face it. I hope she lives in all of us.

Thank you for reading! “Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willnae be fooled again!”

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