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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Review by SongbookThe Place: The Wold, a chalk country not too far from the mountains of Lancre.
The People: Tiffany Aching, Wentworth Aching, and the Nac Mac Feegle.
The Story: Girl has annoying brother. Annoying brother is stolen by elves. Girl gets help to rescue brother.
From this simple and classic plot springs yet another Pratchett delight!
This is an excellent entry point to the Discworld. This book stands alone, isn't quite as pun-infested, still has a lot of references to folklore et al (some I will have to look up), but most importantly, is populated by Pratchett's realistic people. Pratchett steps beyond architype and breathes life into his characters - you have met them at some point (the Nac Mac Feegle are my grandmother's brothers and there's a certain flavor in common between the shepherds and the dalesfolk in the James Herriot books). Add to that a certain sensiblity and understanding of how the world actaully works, and you have one awesome novel.
For the concerned, the fair folk are treated folkloricly, not Disney-esque, and we get the impression of what Pratchett thinks of that sort of treatment...
The novel is listed as Young Adult, but don't let that discourage you. In this case what that means is the plot isn't as involved and some of the bawdier possibilities have been skipped (it's earthy at times, the folks who object to that already are burning this book because it has a Witch in it). This does *not* diminish the book in any way - it is still an excellent story, and it is still worth reading as an adult.
For those of us who already enjoy the world, this book does fill in some interesting info - more on what makes a witch, and, most importantly, the Nac Mac Feegle. If you like Wee Mad Arthur or the Feegles when they popped up in Carpe Jugulum you will like this book quite a bit. We find out where they came from, how they got here, and finally, what they're afraid of! And of course, Nanny and Granny put in a short appearence, just enough to taste them, really, but appropriately done all the same.
Because of the plot, the pacing, the excellent characters, and the difficult job of writing a book that appeals to all ages, I am going to give this one all five amulets out of five.
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