These posts are intended for discussion, so there will be tons of spoilers. This week, we are discussing Chapters 1-5.
1) Since I am a nosy person, I want to know if this is your first Terry Pratchett book for you? Do you enjoy the humor and writing style so far?
I've read a few Discworld novels (Making Money, Thud, and Reaper Man). The humor and style in The Wee Free Men seems more childish than in the previous novels I've read, likely because it is targeted towards a younger audience. The style is still as light, quirky, and clever as I remember, though, and Pratchett's writing still makes me laugh at inopportune times (such as when I'm on public transit). So far, I've especially liked the wandering bands of wild, rough-living teachers, and Miss Tick's stealthy, spring-loaded pointy hat.
2) We've been introduced to Tiffany Aching's world of shepherding and cheese making and her family. What about this quaint setting has caught your eye?
My first thought was to wonder what kind of cheese exactly Tiffany makes. The sheep, cows, and cheese makes me think of Switzerland, which makes me think of Gruyères, which makes me think of the 7-month-aged slab of Gruyères waiting for me in my fridge. I highly doubt the Achings pasteurize their milk, and cheese made from raw milk is so much more delicious!
However, I'm pretty sure the setting is meant to reference Scotland, based on the 'Pictsies', the witch-hunting, and the emphasis on sheep.
I also like how Pratchett manages to throw in a nicely open-minded way for children to think about having pride in their heritage, as when Tiffany was considering her family's long history in the area:
"Tiffany felt quite proud of this, in an odd way, because it might also be nice to be proud of the fact that your ancestors moved around a bit, too, or occasionally tried new things." ~p. 9
3) Ah, the Nac Mac Feegles! Can you understand their speech? Who or what do you think the kelda is?
Yeah, I think I'm understanding it fairly well. It does fill me with the near-overwhelming desire to read out loud, though! I'm not really sure about the kelda. It is apparently someone/thing that has knowledge, is dangerous (but not evil) and lives in a cave. Maybe some kind of oracle? I'm sure I'm going to be embarrassed when we finally learn who/what it is!
4) Do you see a future for Tiffany at a witches' school? Or do you think Ms. Tick will take on a mentor's role?
To get to the 'school', Ms. Tick told her to open her eyes, and then open them again. I could be wrong, but I got the impression that Ms. Tick was telling Tiffany that witches learn from taking a good look at the world around them. Their school is the world, and their classes are observation and experience. Miss Tick could well take a mentor role, but the toad seems to be serving that purpose for Tiffany at the moment.
5) Wentworth has gone missing and there is a Queen involved. What do think she wants with him?
Given that we've got Wee Free Men in this story, I assumed that the Queen was some kind of dangerous fairy queen. If so, some kinds of fairies are commonly known to kidnap children. I've never been exactly clear on what they want them for.
Please feel free to add anything else that stood out for you, made you chuckle, quirk an eyebrow, etc.
On a more serious reaction, I am so far very impressed with the attitudes about adults and the elderly. All the characters are pretty silly (which I think is quite normal for Discworld novels), but 9-year-old Tiffany is a delightful protagonist due to her cleverness, perceptiveness, and calmness in the face of danger--not because all adults are stupid. In fact, Tiffany is fairly polite and respectful towards adults, even when they don't necessarily appear to deserve it.
In terms of the elderly, her Granny Aching seems like a real character (and possibly a witch), and she was obviously very highly regarded by Tiffany and others. I think Granny Aching's leaving Tiffany the respect of the Nac Mac Feegle is going to prove very important to Tiffany's story. I also appreciated Tiffany's empathy for the 'evil witches' in fairy tales, and her understanding that they were often simply elderly, eccentric women (like poor Mrs. Snapperly).