Are you still shopping for that last minute gift on your holiday list? If so, I’d recommend going straight to your nearest bookstore and picking up a copy of the recently released The Illustrated Wee Free Men written by Terry Pratchett and illustrated by Stephen Player. Buy one for yourself, your sister, your nephew, and anybody else who might enjoy the adventurous escape of a fanciful fairy tale told with an enormous amount of humor and wit.
The Illustrated Wee Free Men is the newest version of Pratchett’s Discworld story that was originally released as a novel geared for youth. This story about nine-year-old Tiffany Aching, who is growing up on a sheep and dairy farm and longs for a bit of magic in her life, transcends a mere youth novel and would certainly be appreciated by readers of all ages. Unlike the wizards and witches who wave wands and chant spells, young Tiffany Aching offers a healthy dose of common sense and practical determination combined with an unhindered view of the world that allows her to see the realm beyond the ordinary and do what must be done to save her community and her young brother from the evil faerie queen.
“Another world is colliding with this one,” said the toad. “There. Happy now? That’s what Miss Tick thinks. But it’s happening faster than she expected. All the monsters are coming back.”
“There’s no one to stop them.”
There was silence for a moment.
“There’s me,” said Tiffany.
Tiffany teams up with the fierce pictsies, the Nac Mac Feegle, also known as the Wee Free Men. The fact that the Nac Mac Feegle are blue and only six inches tall does not lessen their status as the most feared warriors amongst all faerie races. They are ruthless fighters, hearty drinkers, and unrepentant thieves who celebrate life and death with equal abandon.
Stephen Player’s illustrations lend much to the tale and make this version of Wee Free Men a potential collectible. The drawings almost dance along the pages, often inserted as background shadow images or borders along the page. At times, the text on a particular page is re-arranged to accommodate the insertion of artwork in unusual places. Player’s depictions of the expressions and physical stances of both Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men exactly capture how I would picture them to be when reading the story.
Pratchett’s interesting characters have the wonderful habit if popping up now and again throughout his various novels. This continues to be the case with Wee Free Men. Whether you are new to Pratchett’s Discworld series, or a longtime fan, I enthusiastically recommend The Illustrated Wee Free Men as one to add to your book collection.