Follow TV Tropes

Following

Characters / Discworld Tiffany Aching and The Wee Free Men

Go To

Tiffany Aching

A serious, lateral-thinking young witch in training, sensible and practical though prone to making mistakes due to her youth and inexperience. Matures both physically and emotionally with each book she's in. Her greatest allies are the Nac Mac Feegle or Wee Free Men, a tribe of Pictsies (little blue barbarians who were kicked out of Faerie for being too disruptivenote ), and Granny Weatherwax.

Advertisement:

  • Acrophobic Bird: Tiffany's connection with the Chalk is such that she can't ride a broomstick higher than a yard or so without getting sick to her stomach, because she needs to feel the earth under her feet.
  • Astral Projection: can do this in A Hat Full of Sky as part of her borrowing trick. She mostly uses it as a mirror and doing so is what allows the Hiver to take over her body.
  • Badass Bookworm: Tiffany gathers her most useful pieces of knowledge from books. Basic literacy and knowledge of the broader world can be important witchly responsibilities in poor rural areas where no one else has the brain cells to spare.
  • Big Sister Instinct: averted at first, towards Wentworth, as in The Wee Free Men, she resents him for being an irritating, spoiled toddler and taking her place as the baby of the family. However, she does protect him, and after Wentworth grows up to be a much more pleasant child and Tiffany does some growing up of her own, she's much more protective of him.
  • Advertisement:
  • Brainy Brunette: A very clear example of one. In her first book, The Wee Free Men, she's annoyed at her brown hair because in all the stories Brainy Brunettes are delegated to supporting roles while the blondes and redheads get all the attention and all the fun. She comes to accept this side of herself eventually. In the next-to-last Tiffany Aching book, I Shall Wear Midnight, a pretty blonde Letitia surprises Tiffany by revealing that she wished she was a Brainy Brunette, because they're allowed to be witches, whereas the girls with blonde hair and rich fathers are only allowed to be "ladies."
  • Cute Witch: At least, by the highly traditionalist standards of Discworld witches, which means cuteness is way secondary to practicality. This changes rapidly over the course of the books she's in.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Solid iron and very effective against elves.
  • Advertisement:
  • Heal It with Water: She develops a magic for taking away pain from a patient: she channels their pain through herself into a bucket of cold water, which accepts the pain-energy and noticeably heats up, in some cases coming to the boil.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: She wasn't meant to be a witch. She forced the world to give her the power to protect the Chalk, which she regards as hers in a very visceral sense. On top of that, she's the most powerful witch of her generation (not that she's immediately aware of it).
  • Little Miss Badass: She took on the Queen of Faerie with a frying pan and survived. At the age of nine.
  • Little Miss Snarker: Not constantly, but she has her moments. Boy, does she have her moments. And as she grows older, she graduates into full-fledged Deadpan Snarker.
  • Little Professor Dialog: "No, 'patronizing' is a big word. 'Zoology' is really quite short."
  • Shipper on Deck: Everbody in the Chalk seems to ship Tiffany/Roland, as neither fit in very well with the other children. In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany comes to the conclusion that they just aren't headed the same direction in life, and finds someone better suited to her personality and ambitions.
    • As of "The Shepherd's Crown even that relationship isn't set in stone due to how they both have lots of work to do and very little spare time.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: By Wintersmith, she can sneak up on Feegles.
  • Stealth Mentor: has two of these in Nanny Ogg and more prominently, Granny Weatherwax, who is quite clearly grooming Tiffany to be her successor as the leader that witches don't have - though being Granny, this grooming takes the form of occasional advice and frequent testing of Tiffany.
    • In "The Shepherd's Crown she takes over Granny's steading after the latter's death.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Roland. They don't.

The Nac Mac Feegle

Also known as the "Wee Free Men," "the Little Men" or "Person or Persons Unknown, Believed to Be Armed," the Feegles are race of tiny, blue-skinned, heavily tattooed pictsies who were thrown out of Faerie for rebelling against the tyrannical rule of their Queen... or possibly for being drunk.


  • Amazing Technicolor Population: All Feegles have blue skin, though the books are a little vague on whether their skin is naturally blue or has just been turned blue by tattoos and body dyes. The general consensus is that it's the woad and the tattoos, judging by the fact that the first Kelda is described as chestnut coloured. The book covers, however, suggest otherwise.
    • Later books reveal that there's an orphaned Feegle out there Wee Mad Arthur who passed for a gnome until discovering his heritage, and Discworld gnomes have never been described as unusually-coloured. This points to the Feegles' colour being culturally applied (ink, dye, paint, etc.) rather than genetic.
  • Battlecry: Parodied. They have dozens of battle cries, and each Feegle shouts out his personal favourite whenever battle commences. The one they all generally join in on, however is also the longest: "‘Nae king! Nae quin! Nae laird! Nae master! We willnae be fooled again!"note 
  • Blood Knight: A consequence of their religious beliefs. The Feegle will fight anything and everything that looks at them the wrong way, each other, and if all else fails, themselves.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Yes, a race of six-inch tall Boisterous Bruisers.
  • Book Dumb: Though all Feegles treat words and knowledge relating to them as magic, the level of education varies from tribe to tribe. The Chalk tribe in particular, however, is actively terrified by the concept of learning to read and write.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Feegles can step between worlds at will. If they want to get around within a world, they have to do it the old-fashioned way.
  • Fearless Fool: It'd be wrong to say they're not afraid of anything — things like lawyers, books, angry witches and annoyed wives can make them quite nervous — but physical danger doesn't intimidate them at all, and they'll happily attack anyone or anything a hundred times bigger than them.
  • Fiery Redhead: All Feegles have red hair, and most of them have big tempers.
  • Gender Rarity Value: The Feegle clans never have more than 2 females at a time: the current Kelda, who gives birth to each generation, and one daughter who will grow up and marry the Big Man of another clan to become a Kelda in turn.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Logic is not generally their strong trait to begin with, and sometimes they'll part ways with it entirely. Tiffany's habit of applying common sense to problems produces a lot of awe in the Feegles.
  • Legacy Character: Once a Feegle is dead, his name is passed on, so in a way they're all legacy characters. Sometimes involves some shuffling; for instance, if Wee Jock dies, the next-largest Feegle of that name (that is, Not-As-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock Jock) will take up the mantle of Wee Jock.
  • Memory Jar / Genetic Memory: Keldas pass on to their daughters the materials needed to create a Genetic Memory Jar, by which they can access the collective experiences of their female ancestors, and even catch glimpses of what their female descendants will know.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Imagine the strength and belligerence of a seasoned bar brawler compressed into six inches. Now imagine that man climbing up your pants leg and headbutting your kneecap or punching you in the unmentionables. Now imagine an army of them. That's the Feegles.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Do NOT think that stepping on them will subdue them. It will only make them angrier.
  • The Unintelligible: Border on this trope when they're first introduced in Carpe Jugulum due to an exaggerated Scottish accent. In the Tiffany Aching books, where they are among the main characters (and is meant for younger readers), the accent has been toned down that it's usually clear what they're talking about (although the books still have a "Feegle glossary" for some of the stranger dialect words).
  • Use Your Head: The preferred attack of the Feegles, even though they have swords. They grab you by the ears/eyelids and bonk you between the eyes (or nose), generally with roughly the same effect as a stone from a slingshot. Sometimes repeatedly.
  • Violent Glaswegian: A universal Feegle trait.
  • Women Are Wiser: It's generally agreed that the few female Feegles are the ones who get most of the brains and the Gonnagles get most of the few left over.
  • Zerg Rush: Yeah, the Feegles have no sense of subtlety. They're basically a big, blue, moving carpet when they're on the warpath, and you'd do best not to be in their way.

Rob Anybody

The irascible chieftain of an irascible people, and the most prominent Nac Mac Feegle in the books.


Daft Wullie

Not a very bright Feegle at all, but still manages to be the second most prominent Feegle in the Tiffany Aching books, after Rob Anybody.


  • Cloudcuckoolander: Definitely has traces of this at times; many of his words and actions make sense only to him.
  • The Fool: While most Feegles are rather short on brains, Daft Wullie makes the rest look like geniuses in comparisation.
  • Mad Libs Catch Phrase / Running Gag:
    "Daft Wullie?"
    "Aye, Rob?"
    "Ye ken I said I’d tell ye when [there wuz times you should’ve kept your big gob shut/ye wuz guilty o’ stupid and inna-pro-pre-ate behaviour]?"
    "Aye, Rob?"
    "That wuz one o' them times."
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: He's good at making those.

Big Yan

One of the other more prominent Feegles. Absolutely enormous by Feegle standards, being about nine inches tall.


Granny Aching

Tiffany's grandmother and possibly a powerful witch, even though she never used any overt magic (which to Granny Weatherwax just means that she was very good at her job indeed). Dies before The Wee Free Men.


  • Cool Old Lady: She had the respect of everyone of the chalk. In fact, despite witches not being tolerated on the Chalk, people not only accept, but celebrate Tiffany, because she's Granny Aching's granddaughter.
  • Honorary Grandma: Everybody called her "Granny Aching," something which Granny Weatherwax sees as another sign that she may have been a witch — as elderly witches usually do pick up an honorific like that, "a honorific, like Old Mother So-and-so, or Goodie Thingy, or Nanny Whatshername."
  • Posthumous Character: Having died two years before The Wee Free Men, she only appears in flashbacks and visions. In "The Shepherd's Crown Tiffany sees her together with Granny Weatherwax after Tiffany finally settles on The Chalk in a shepherd's hut.
  • The Silent Bob: She seldom spoke much, but when she did, people listened.

Annagramma Hawkin

An arrogant young witch and leader of a coven of other young witches before Tiffany showed up and didn't become its leader in the same way that Granny Weatherwax isn't the leader of the Ramtops witches.


  • Alpha Bitch: Oh so much. She really isn't a witch so much as a female wizard: witch magic is about guarding the boundaries, wizard magic is about power.
  • Catchphrase: Uses the word "literally" a lot and incorrectly.
  • Character Development: From bossy, overbearing Alpha Bitch with little clue as to what she's doing in A Hat Full of Sky and the early parts of Wintersmith to a brave, competent and helpful young witch in the latter parts of Wintersmith, taking a level in both Badass and Kindness as she goes along.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: In, ironically, Wintersmith. After taking over a deceased witch's territory she finds herself far in over her head because her teacher, Mrs Earwig, hadn't taught her anything actually useful, so she has to turn to Tiffany for help.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: In a manner of speaking. Tiffany can more or less see through her snobby attitude to the confused young girl beneath it. Also, in the Wintersmith she instantly leaps to Tiffany's defense with a fireball.
  • Meaningful Name: Annagramma approaches being a proper witch entirely backwards.
  • Not So Different: Snubs Tiffany's heritage, but her own is no better despite her lies to the contrary.
  • Pride: Big time. Lightens up a little after Tiffany and the other younger witches nudge her in the right direction.
  • Smug Snake: At first. She grows out of it, though.

Petulia Gristle

Junior witch and a close friend of Tiffany's; she's got an amazing talent with animals and particularly with pigs — which has earned her the nickname "the pig witch."


  • Happily Married: She is the first witch of her generation to get married, and while we never actually meet her husband (a pig-farmer), the marriage seems to be a happy one.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Petulia's main talent is "pig-boring"; the ability to talk at length to a pig until it drops dead from boredom. It seems laughable, but is actually extremely useful as it ensures a quiet and fairly humane slaughter-time... and, as becomes apparent, it does not only work on pigs and Petulia is able to use her ability so effectively that it can be weaponized; she can literally go out on a battlefield and talk the enemy to death.
  • Hidden Depths: At first, before Character Development reveal more of her true strength: She is shy and stuttering and completely without opinions of her own when around the other witches — but when she's on the job, and especially when she's working with pigs, she becomes confident, self-assured and hyper-competent.
  • Nice Girl: Probably the sweetest and most sympathetic witch of her generation.
  • Opinion Flip-Flop: She's introduced as a person with a severe case of this, who will alter her opinion several times during a conversation, just so she can agree with who spoke last. (At one point, Tiffany considered saying the sky is green, just to see if Petulia will agree with that too.) She gets better.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Learns to stand up for herself, and in the last book she's fighting elves and winning.

Roland de Chumsfanleigh

Heir to the Baron who owns the Chalk, Roland was abducted by the Queen of the elves and rescued by Tiffany. He never really got over this, and was Tiffany's potential but ultimately averted Love Interest for a time.

  • Fake Ultimate Hero: In the Wee Free Men.
  • The Hero: is described as such in Wintersmith, but only in the strictly storybook sense.
  • Hidden Depths: Proves to be smarter, more sensible, and much more competent than he seems at first glance.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: His last name is pronounced "Chuffley".
  • Teeny Weenie: Implied in The Shepherd's Crown - or at least, he has the traditionally male worry that it will be considered teeny, and that his new wife might gossip about this with Tiffany, her new best friend, who is simultaneously his sort of ex-girlfriend and the local witch.
  • Upper-Class Twit: At times. He's generally better in the later books, although the expectations placed on him by his social status can override his kindness and common sense.
    • It doesn't help that The Shepherd's Crown shows that a side-effect of the Soothings, the mental healing of the Feegle Keldas, means that he doesn't really remember his time in Elf-land or, possibly, the episode when he went to the Underworld with the Feegles to get the Summer Lady in Wintersmith. Since both these episodes were key to his Character Development, it's unsurprising that he goes backwards a bit, especially after his father's death and the influence of the Cunning Man, an overbearing mother-in-law, and Letitia's improbably effective curse on Tiffany. Tiffany also notes that hearing that a child has been taken by the fairies (which Feegles technically are, though Tiffany took the child to the Kelda to get her healed) would press all the wrong buttons for him, likely bringing up some absolutely horrific ghosts of memories. He gets better again after those influences are lessened and Tiffany has the chance to explain things to him properly.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Tiffany in the first three books. They don't. In fact, Tiffany performs his marriage to Letitia by having them jump over a fire together.

Wentworth Aching

Tiffany's younger brother. He is first introduced in The Wee Free Men as a sweetie-obsessed, spoiled toddler who is kidnapped by the Queen of the Elves and needs to be rescued. He grows up in subsequent books, and remains the only one of Tiffany's siblings to actually have a speaking role.

  • Berserk Button: When he's a toddler, everything seems to be this for him. When he grows older, though, it's hinted that his biggest Berserk Button is if someone begins badmouthing Tiffany.
  • Character Development: Given that he's a toddler in his first appearance, and at least in his teens in his last appearance (the narrative notes that he's "not quite old enough for the pub yet, but certainly old enough to hang around outside"), it'd be odd if he didn't go through this.
  • Demoted to Extra: In The Wee Free Men, while not a major character, he's got a fairly substantial role and is pretty much the reason why the plot happens in the first place. In the sequels he pretty much only gets one or two token appearances per book.
  • Spoiled Brat: Again, in The Wee Free Men, at least in Tiffany's opinion. But then, he's not even three years old at the time.
  • Straying Baby: Gets kidnapped by the elves as a result of being this.
Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback