The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

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The Wee Free Men Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:12 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing The Wee Free Men in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2003


Image

Image

Tiffany Aching’s brother has been kidnapped by the Fairy Queen and Tiffany is determined to get back what is hers, no matter how much of a sticky pest he is.

So armed with a frying pan, a book on the diseases of sheep and an army of small, blue men (looking for (a) a drink (b) a fight (c) something to steal) Tiffany heads off into battle.
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I don’t know about you, but I’m very fond of the Tiffany books. I’m kind of sad that the series is finished, so it was good to go back to where it all started – The Wee Free Men. It’s an excellent book with an extremely good cast of characters and an adventure with real danger in.

But what did you think? :D

By the way, there is a good deal of mention of Richard Dadd’s painting The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke. The link here is to a picture you can click on to get a decent sized enlargement. There’s a lot going on, but I don’t think you’ll find a Feegle.
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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Men At Arms)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
Last edited by Tonyblack on Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 05, 2011 10:12 am

Image

I think this picture, from The Fairy Feller's Master Stroke is the character 'Sneebs' from Wee Free Men. He looks a bit like someone and a little out of place in my opinion. :D
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Postby jaeger » Mon Sep 05, 2011 1:21 pm

HmmImage,

Where to start ?

Unlike Tony, The Tiffany Aching series don't figure highly in my list of Discworld books. I doggedly read through them though just to see where they were going.
But, I dutifully re-read Wee Free Men for this discussion so I could follow the thread and any comments.

Apart from the obvious (and usual) nods STP does to other books/stories, things such as the feegles swords glowing blue in the presence of lawyers (Bilbo Baggins sword ~Sting~ in The Hobbit and subsequently Frodo Baggins' in The Lord of the Ring series does the same when in the presence of Orcs), and the Snow Queen from The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe . . . et al.
It was almost like the story was been fleshed out to much by these nods in those directions leaving us the readers to fill in the gaps with prior knowledge. I found that a bit of a let down.
However, contradicting myself, they (the feegles), are obviously very Braveheart which I found amusing.

I felt somewhat robbed as the book is largely about Tiffany, her brother and Roland the barons son, and not The Wee Free Men as the title would seem to suggest.
I get along with the wee blue fellas just fine though as they are very squaddie esque with the antics they get up to, found mostly in bars (or liking their tipple), frequently in love and always in trouble :) .

I just think,(IMHO), that the storyline could have been more about the feegles and their seemingly endless potential for causing havoc. But that may just be me :P . I look forward to others views Image

Please don't get me wrong, I like all the Discworld books - to a greater or lesser degree. I just take each one as stand alone rather than let continuity, chronology or the grandfather paradox (Night Watch) get in the way.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:04 pm

I know the Tiffany books are not every one's cup of tea, but I like them. I don't think, despite the title of the book, that this was every meant to be about the Feegles and I think that's right. I think there's about the right amount of Feegle story in this one - possibly more than in the other Tiffany books.

We certainly learn a lot about them. As we know - they first appeared in Carpe Jugulum, but these particular Feegles seem easier to understand. I'm fairly certain they are meant to be a different clan to the one in CJ. :)
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Postby swreader » Mon Sep 05, 2011 5:40 pm

I think that the Tiffany series (and they really must be read in order) is one of the finest bits of writing that Terry has done. Of course WFM does seem, as Jaeger points out, somewhat misnamed--insofar as it suggests that the book is about the Feegles. It's not. It's the first in a series which traces the development of an extraordinary witch from the striking and highly unusual 9 year old Tiffany, through her growth and development in the other three books. ( And I think that I Shall Wear Midnight may well be the best written of any of Terry's books.)

They are pure Pratchett. If you complain that Pratchett uses or alludes to other writings, you have just about taken away one of Terry's major satiric elements. For example, the swords in LOTR glow for ORCs, and the Feegles's swords glow for lawyers. (As a retired lawyer, among other things, I find that hilarious parody). And Small Gods abounds with allusions to make serious points, unlike Soul Music which just plays with "can you recognize this band/tune?"

Another example, I think, of Terry's use of and transformation of the original is Tiffany's confrontation with the headless horseman at the very beginning of the book. The first time I read this I immediately thought of Washington Irving's headless horseman in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But if Irving's horseman is funny and pokes fun at the schoolmaster's terror, Tiffany (with advice from the Feegles) faces down a nightmare, a really dangerous sending of the Queen. And the contrast between the two is deliberately used, I think, to make us realize how dangerous the Queen's attempted invasion is and her need to stop Tiffany from becoming a witch. Terry is making the point early that some dreams are nightmares (with or without headless horesmen.)

I find the Feegles amusing, occasionally boring (the scarcity of given names leading to the incredible length of names), and (as their old Kelda said) not right bright without someone to look after them. It is Tiffany who goes alone into the Queen's bower and rescues her brother. The Feegles were too busy drinking and eating.

And Terry carefully weaves in all the things that Tiffany has learned from her Granny Aching--from the value of silence, to the need to speak for those who have no voices.
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Postby jaeger » Mon Sep 05, 2011 6:50 pm

swreader wrote: If you complain that Pratchett uses or alludes to other writings, you have just about taken away one of Terry's major satiric elements.
No no !! Not a complaint. Point well made and accepted. It was more of a moan that in TWFM it jumped out at me as being overly used.
swreader wrote: For example, the swords in LOTR glow for ORCs, and the Feegles's swords glow for lawyers. (As a retired lawyer, among other things, I find that hilarious parody).
I can well imagine :lol:

swreader wrote:I find the Feegles amusing, occasionally boring (the scarcity of given names leading to the incredible length of names),
Yes I found the lenghty names amusing at first but very soon became bored and then annoyed with them and eventually skipped reading the name altogether after a while :evil:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:10 am

I'll get this said first so I don't keep harping back to it - I think WFM is one of Pratchett's best books.

There are two reasons it appeals to me so much
Firstly - its an amazing ode to a landscape. Reading it stuck in London I was desperate to get back to the south downs (and I will forgive him for not recognising that the best downland is that next to the sea, the wiltshire and associated downs have more scope for the succeeding stories). With very little line space actually spent on description he brilliantly conjures up the feel and magic of chalk downland.

Secondly - as a parable for growing up it says that we need to accept responsibility and realise that if anything is going to happen we need to do it - the moment where Tiffant accepts that Granny Aching is really gone and isn't hiding around the corner to solve her problems for her (even if she does appear to do so at the end)
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Postby raisindot » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:00 pm

Personally, I think WFM is TP's best Young Adult book and could easily be marketed and classified as an "adult" DW book.

He essentially takes the elements of Lords and Ladies and the Feegles from Carpe Jugulum and adds a whole new level of narrative complexity to their 'worlds,' but positions them as a means to 'awaken' Tiffany's inner witch and confront and conquer her own doubts and discover who she really is.

Essential reading.
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Postby DaveC » Tue Sep 06, 2011 1:03 pm

Sometimes I daydream about a hyper-real Feegle film where it's an 18 and it's the cast of Trainspotting, but blue, trashing stuff and swearing and fighting. :roll: :lol:
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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:33 pm

:oops: I just remembered this discussion. I posted it last week and forgot all about it. :oops: Seems like lots of you did too. :lol:

Who's your favourite Feegle.* :D






*for want of something to discuss.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:47 pm

Big Yan :P
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Postby swreader » Sun Sep 11, 2011 4:38 pm

In this book, William the gonnagle, though the kelda is great in her short appearance.

It seems to me that Tiffany (at the risk of spoiler comparisons) is at her strongest and most certain in this book. And the lessons she learns here--from thinking about what her Granny showed her and told her form an important basis for the challenges she meets in the later books.

Terry really does not like "elves". This book is reminds me, in some ways, of Lords and Ladies. The Queen is a really evil, nasty person, and she surrounds herself with nasty creatures. But she can be defeated if one knows who one is and what one's responsibilities are.
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:12 pm

Daft Wullie is good too :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Sun Sep 11, 2011 5:34 pm

swreader wrote:In this book, William the gonnagle, though the kelda is great in her short appearance.

I could hear William in my head when I was reading the book. He has a different accent to the other Feegles. They are more Glaswegian - he's more Highlands (I think).

Incidentally, you may or may not know of a certain Scottish poet named William Topaz McGonagall, who seems to have made a name for himself because of his bad poetry. It's certainly as bad as the Battle Poetry used in this book. :lol:

Here's an example of a poem by McGonagall.

The Tay Bridge Disaster

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seem'd to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say-
"I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay."

When the train left Edinburgh
The passengers' hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
Which made their hearts for to quail,
And many of the passengers with fear did say-
"I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay."

But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

So the train sped on with all its might,
And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
And the passengers' hearts felt light,
Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
With their friends at home they lov'd most dear,
And wish them all a happy New Year.

So the train mov'd slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
Until it was about midway,
Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
Because ninety lives had been taken away,
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o'er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
Which fill'd all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
And made them for to turn pale,
Because none of the passengers were sav'd to tell the tale
How the disaster happen'd on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

It must have been an awful sight,
To witness in the dusky moonlight,
While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay,
I must now conclude my lay
By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
That your central girders would not have given way,
At least many sensible men do say,
Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
At least many sensible men confesses,
For the stronger we our houses do build,
The less chance we have of being killed.
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Postby Kin Arad » Sun Sep 11, 2011 6:31 pm

Well...for something nice to say, he's better than me at poetry - but then again, there's a reason i don't write it...It really is dull...and long...but i don't really know anything about poetry...sorry i'll stop woffeling :oops:
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