A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
One of the great character templates in literature is the often dim-witted, often humorous sidekick who is allowed a moment of center stage wisdom. If done poorly, it can be nothing short of horrible. But when it is done well, there is seldom anything that can beat it. And in a series of more than 30 books that are all pigeon-holed into the fantasy/comedy genre, Terry Pratchett has made attempting this template into an art form.
In the second entry in the Tiffany Aching series of books, and his 32nd visit to the Discworld, A Hat Full of Sky continues Terry Pratchett’s brilliant look into the world of a young witch: this time, with more angst.
But it isn’t angst that will drive you crazy, like so many authors somehow manage effortlessly. No, Tiffany Aching experiences the angst expected of 11 year old girls that have all of a sudden been thrust away from home and into a world that isn’t as expected, and contains girls like Annagramma: ie, mean, spiteful, and literally stupid (you’ll get that joke when you read the book).
Two years after she cast the Queen from her land, Tiffany Aching leaves the Chalk to learn witching from Miss Level, a singularly talented witch (that’s another joke). But in the process, poor Tiffany finds herself the victim of an ancient evil, all because she is just as powerful as Granny Weatherwax supposes she is. But with second and third thoughts in tow, as well as the Nac Mac Feegle, Tiffany has a slim hope of making it out alive.
In the review for The Wee Free Men, I mentioned my love for the character of Tiffany. I could go on, but I would just be repeating myself. This is not Pratchett’s first foray into writing, obviously, and so Tiffany doesn’t get better, she is just as good as last time, you just find out more. Tiffany is precocious, smart and everything you’d want in a daughter or big sister (but probably not what you want in a little sister). You continue to fall in love with her like you think it’d be like falling for your best friend.
So where can I point my focus then? Well if you’ve read the book, you know who I’ll pick from the opening paragraph. For those who don’t, I’m focusing on the sidekick, for lack of a better word.
Rob Anybody, Big Man of the Chalk clan, is possibly one of the funniest and simultaneously most endearing characters I’ve ever come across. The Nac Mac Feegle are written to be funny; there’s no two ways about that. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t also be wise, smart (well…), brave, witty and honest. In fact, it is their inherent humorous insanity and obsessive love of fightin’, drinkin’ and stealin’ that, when they have their “center stage wisdom” moments, makes the moments all the more important and moving.
Scenes in which Rob Anybody, primarily, uses his head for “thinkin’ and not headbuttin’” are ones that are treasured, in my opinion. It is these moments that you the wisdom, not only inherent in these age old creatures that are much more inherent to and in tune with the land around them, but of Pratchett himself.
'If you'll tak' my advice, you'll no' do that,' said Rob Anybody from Tiffany's ankle. 'I dinnae trust the scunner one wee bitty!'
'There's part of me in there. I trust that,' she said. 'I did say you don't have to come, Rob.'
'Oh, aye? An' I'm ta' see you go through there alone, am I? Yell not find me leavin' you now!'
'You've got a clan and a wife, Rob!'
'Aye, an' so I willnae dishonour them by lettin' yer step across Death's threshold alone,' said Rob Anybody firmly.
So, thought Tiffany as she stared through the doorway, this is what we do. We live on the edges. We help those who can't find the way...
The above quote is an example, not so much of the wisdom, but of the bravery and spirit that we hope lives in us. That is much of what fantasy literature is; showing us images and characters that you hope reside somewhere in you, but hidden beneath the day and age we live in. That Pratchett manages to still convey these thoughts and imagery in a book that is predominantly a laugh-riot is testament to his skill as a writer.
A Hat Full of Sky is definitely worth your attention, but you don’t want to pick it up without The Wee Free Men. With any luck, you will have already picked up The Wee Free Men and want to read A Hat Full of Sky because you want to keep reading the story, at which point you will continue to read into Wintersmith.
Either way, the Tiffany Aching series of books are not only prime examples of top notch writing, but such a fun read that you won’t want to put them down. So be warned, if you need to be up early the next day, don’t pick this up; wait until you’ve got a weekend, and a lot of spare time.
This A Hat Full of Sky book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: The Discworld Series
The Colour Of Magic
The Discworld Series: Book 1
In the beginning there was…a turtle. Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smel...
Lords and Ladies
The Discworld Series: Book 14
The fairies are back – but this time they don’t just want your teeth… It's Midsummer Night - no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there'...
Feet of Clay
The Discworld Series: Book 19
For Commander Vimes, Head of Ankh-Morpork City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by…well, more troubling times. Right now, it’s the latt...
The Light Fantastic
The Discworld Series: Book 2
A red star has appeared in the sky and the Discworld is heading right towards it. There is only one person who can save the world; but unfortunately this is the rather inep...
The Discworld Series: Book 20
Throughout history, there's always been a perfectly good reason to start a war. Never more so if it is over a 'strategic' piece of old rock in the middle of now...
The Fifth Elephant
The Discworld Series: Book 24
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that master...
The Discworld Series: Book 28
For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer at loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of ...
The Discworld Series: Book 3
Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job. After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romant...
The Discworld Series: Book 3
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunatel...
The Wee Free Men
The Discworld Series: Book 30
Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching thinks her Granny Aching – a wise shepherd – might have been a witch, but now Granny Aching is dead and it’s up to Tiffany to...
The Discworld Series: Book 31
Polly becomes Private Oliver Perks, who is on a quest to find her older brother, who's recently MIA in one of the innumerable wars the tiny nation of Borogravia has a h...
A Hat Full of Sky
The Discworld Series: Book 32
Something is coming after Tiffany . . .Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered...
The Discworld Series: Book 33
Moist von Lipwig is a con artist... ... and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet. It'...
The Discworld Series: Book 35
Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to w...
The Discworld Series: Book 36
It’s an offer you can’t refuse. Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door? It’s a job for li...
The Discworld Series: Book 37
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood ...
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Discworld Series: Book 38
A man with no eyes. No eyes at all. Two tunnels in his head... It's not easy being a witch, and it's certainly not all whizzing about on broomsticks, but Tiffany Ac...
The Discworld Series: Book 39
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. And Commander Sam...
The Discworld Series: Book 4
There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven...
The Discworld Series: Book 40
To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of...
The Shepherds Crown
The Discworld Series: Book 41
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. This is a time ...
The Discworld Series: Book 8
Here there be dragons . . . and the denizens of Ankh-Morpork wish one huge firebreather would return from whence it came. Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco ...
Have you read A Hat Full of Sky?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
A Hat Full of Sky reader reviews
9.5/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Bartimaeus Trilogy
When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation...
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend. There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary m...
Lockwood & Co
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in... For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A nu...
In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been ...
A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different. Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had on...
When young Jimbo Mambo books a room with Captain and Mrs Fanshaw in their Northernville lodging house, he is gradually introduced to their bizarre social circle. However, n...
May Contain Traces of Magic
There are all kinds of products. The good ones. The bad ones. The ones that stay in the garage mouldering for years until your garden gnome makes a home out of them. Most a...
The third planet out from the star was blue, with green splodges. Dirt. Oh, the bomb thought. And then its courage, determination and nobility-of-spirit subroutines cut in,...
A Heist Too Far
Mallik, an assassin with a short temper and an assortment of sharp weapons, Dick Swede a.k.a The Black Moustache, an almost famous highwayman, and Jules Van Jives, a scruff...
If Pigs Could Fly
"West Kensington Paranormal Detective Agency. Doctor Ravinder Shah speaking. No case too weird, no problem too bizarre. Strangeness a specialty. How can I help you?&qu...
Far away in the realm of Mythos, an evil entity has broken free of its prison to darken the land. However, entrusted with her father’s magic scroll – the only h...
The Banned Underground: The Amulet of Kings
Will Macmillan Jones
What could be worse? Having to take a holiday with an aunt who turns people into frogs? Or battling the local dark lord? Or getting involved with a jazz-loving bog troll an...
To Say Nothing of the Dog
When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complex...
Bingo Sac Grabbins is asked by the coughing wizard Gandef and some (oddly Welsh) dwarves to help them relieve the great dragon Smug of his gold....
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his mind. But as the Jardines tighten their grip on a turbulent Britain, brother and sister face a fight greater than their own. New alliances and old feuds will remake the natio...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...