Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett Read Along: Week 2

If you haven't read the book why not join in and read along with the rest of us? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at the Little Red Reviewer.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 9.

1.  Do you think Tiffany will be able to hold up her end of the bargain that she made with the Kelda?

Absolutely: Tiffany is the kind of girl who can do anything when she sets her mind to it!

Although her task seems very difficult at the moment I have no doubt that everything will turn out well in the end, otherwise this is going to be a very disappointing story. We have already seen her overcome the difficulty of having to marry the Big Man, Rob Anybody, so that is a good start. She also managed to outwit the Drome . . . and she does have the Feegles and William the Gonnagle with his ability to make things explode by playing his music.

I also need to make a special mention of No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock. Not only does he have possibly the most epic name of any character in literature, but he can destroy things with his poetry. How cool is that?

2. Do you think Tiffany and Fion will ever be friends?

I do not see Fion as a forgiving sort of girl and I cannot imagine that she will ever approve of Tiffany being made kelda of the clan, even if it was only a temporary arrangement. I get the impression that she was bad tempered enough before Tiffany showed up and that she has a teenager’s ability to sulk in the most dramatic fashion possible. I think the best that Tiffany can hope for is a little grudging respect after she has saved the day and handed the clan over to their new kelda.

3. What do you think of the Queen's world? How does this interpretation of Fairyland mesh with other interpretations you've run into in other books?

Discworld constantly takes well established tropes and turns them on their heads, so I really appreciate the distorted Fairyland that we have here. I love the idea that the trees and landscape only develop detail when you notice them: Mr Pratchett does like to add sentience to the most inanimate of objects. This also adds to the dream-like quality of the land, so that we can never be quite sure of our sense and what they are telling us. Of course, the Fae are often portrayed as rather ‘chaotic’ characters, to use the Dungeon and Dragons terminology, and there are plenty of stories and myths about them being evil. We see this in the Queen’s lack of understanding of what children need as oppose to what they want.

I have read quite a few books that involve the fae, and most of them show us two types of fae, one ‘good’ and one ‘evil’, that are normally in opposition to one another. Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files include several fae, most notably Mab, Queen of the Winter, who is very capricious: trying to kill him or help him seemingly at random. In Kim Harrison’s Hollows series, the fairies are rather nasty insectoids who are happy to work as mercenaries. Sookie Stackhouse is possibly the most famous example of a fairy in modern fantasy, even if she is mostly human.

4. What do you think of Roland? Will he be a help to Tiffany or a hindrance?

I am not at all sure about Roland. He makes me think of Edmund in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and his relationship with the White Witch. I hope that Roland proves to be an ally for Tiffany, although I would not be surprised if he is more of a hindrance.

5. I don't know about you, but I do NOT want to run into a Drome!

Most definitely not: they are way too powerful and cunning. Being stuck in a bad dream that can change with your perceptions sounds like the worst thing possible.


  1. Tiffany certainly is very resourceful and I don't imagine her getting too stuck by any obstacle that she meets.
    Some of the Wee Men's names are great aren't they? You have to love Rob Anybody - it's almost Simpsonish.
    Dromes - horrible things - not to mention that once you're stuck in the dream they eat you!
    Lynn :D

    1. There is a certain Simpsonesque aspect to the Feegles: they have that wonderfully sociopathic tendency that makes Bart and Homer so appealing! :D

  2. " No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock", that is one helluva name! I wonder if that's available as a twitter handle? LOL!

    I do love the destruction by poetry, in fact, i think I have heard poetry that is nearly that bad. or at least, I wouldn't have minded being mortally wounded so I wouldn't have to listen to any more of it.

    I don't think Fey are evil, they are just very different from us. So different, that it's easy for us to see them as evil, or at least as not very nice. But they are just doing their thing.

    I just realized something. . . I think The Queen might be human, or maybe half-human?

    1. Destruction by poetry reminds me of the Vogons in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

      That's an interesting thought about the Queen . . .

  3. Hooray for Tiffany and her innate keldaness! No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock made me laugh a lot. The name alone must have added between 5-10 pages to the book! And I find it funny that his name will change if one of the other Jocks die.

    The fae are usually a good example of D&D chaotic personality. Sometimes our heroes are lucky to come across chaotic good fae....but more often they are chaotic bad - which is far more entertaining for me as the reader.

    1. It's strange, but I find fairy tales like this far more satisfying than the cloying sweetness that we see in Disney, for example. The edginess is much more similar to the original myths and stories handed down by oral tradition that we see written down by the Brothers Grimm and others.

  4. Oh, No’-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock. He was so patient in correcting his name for Tiffany, over and over again. :) I think the Feegle might need to add some new names to their list. The deadly poetry kind of reminds me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

    I always rather liked portrayals of more inhuman fairies, which come off as pretty chaotic from our perspective (because their goals might change based on things that seem completely irrelevant to us.). Maybe they sometimes want to be kind and generous, but they really have no idea how their actions affect human beings-- like the Queen and her poor child-care skills.

    1. Yep: Vogon poetry FTW! :D

      I agree: it is always good to see a different species treated as alien in its attitudes and ways of thinking.

  5. Methinks the No'-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock Fan Club starts here. :D


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