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Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full of Sky

May 15, 2009

57. A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (2004)
Discworld, Book 32; Tiffany Aching, Book 2

Read my review of:
– Book 1, The Wee Free Men

Read By: Stephen Briggs
Length: 7h 48m (448 pages)

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Started: 07 May 2009
Finished: 12 May 2009

Tiffany has to
face an ancient evil that
can’t be killed. Crivens!

Summary: Although she banished the Faerie Queen from her homelands, the Chalk, when she was just nine, eleven-year-old Tiffany Aching doesn’t feel particularly magical during her daily life of tending her family’s sheep and making cheese. Going to study with the witch Miss Level doesn’t really help, as Miss Level’s brand of magic is mostly doing other people’s chores and some basic medicine. However, Tiffany’s going to have to find her magic reserves deep within herself, because she’s being stalked by an ancient, unkillable evil force – The Hiver – who takes over people’s minds and drives them mad. At least she won’t have to fight it alone, though… for the Nac Mac Feegle (six-inch-tall blue “faeries” who like nothing more than getting drunk and fighting a lot) have befriended her, and they’ll stop at nothing to protect their “big wee hag.”

Review: I listened to The Wee Free Men almost a year ago, and while I quite enjoyed it, I didn’t really feel the need to rush out and get the sequel, even once I found out it existed. And yet, as soon as I started this book, I realized how terribly much I’d missed the Feegles… and didn’t let ten hours, let alone ten months, elapse before starting the next book in the series.

I think the reason I liked this book so much was that it had a good balance of all of the elements that go into YA fantasy. Before I found the Tiffany Aching books, I’d only read two of Pratchett’s Discworld books, and was somewhat underimpressed – it felt like they were trying too hard to be funny all the time, and that the jokes had all been made before. A Hat Full of Sky, on the other hand, is frequently laugh-out-loud funny, but it balances it with some good adventure, a not-overly-preachy coming of age story, some interesting character development, and a cracking good story. It also doesn’t talk down to its readers – Tiffany’s eleven in this book, so the target audience is probably not much older – with things not always working out easily or perfectly, and the world sometimes being dark and unfair. The humor also helps its cross-over appeal to adult readers – there are plenty of things that young teens would find funny, but also plenty of sharper and more subtle humor for the grown-ups.

This is also an excellent book to listen to in audiobook form. I very rarely vocalize accents in my head when I’m reading, unless the accent is written out phonetically, which gets really tiring really fast. (The Outlander books’ use of the occasional “dinna” was a good balance of reminding me that characters were supposed to have a Scottish brogue without transliterating every burr, but that’s neither here nor there.) Anyways, the Nac Mac Feegles just wouldn’t be the same without their thick accents, and Stephen Briggs narrates their dialogue, along with the rest of the story, just perfectly. Ach, crivens! 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This series is definitely recommended to fantasy fans who want something simultaneously hilarious and also taking a sensible stand on the issues that come with growing up.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Links: Feegle Free-Fall game

Other Reviews: Adventures in Reading, Books and Other Thoughts, Bart’s Bookshelf, A Chain of Letters, A Reader’s Journal, Serendipity
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: It came crackling over the hills, like an invisible fog.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2009 10:17 am

    It sounds like the Tiffany Aching books could be just what I need to finally get the Discworld love. (I’ve only read one of the books, but I had the same reaction as you: I thought Pratchett was trying too hard to be funny, and I was none too impressed). Thanks for the great review!

  2. keidalgrim permalink
    May 15, 2009 11:17 am

    Hi Nicki:

    I’m still amazed at the number of books you’re able to read and review. My question is: where do you get all of these books and audiobooks?

    I mean, if you buy them, you must have a fortune invested in them. Are you getting them another way, maybe a way that’s not so expensive?

    Forgive me if I’m being too personal; I don’t mean to be. Just curious because I’d love to have as many books at my fingertips as you seem to have.



  3. May 15, 2009 11:28 am

    Memory – I am still not fully on-board the Discworld fan train, but I am loving the Tiffany Aching books… which I didn’t even realize were supposed to be set in Discworld until after I was poking around LT after I finished the first one. I hope you get a chance to check them out, and enjoy them as much as I have. (They also are really, really good on audiobook, if you’re willing to take a chance on listening to something you haven’t read before.)

    Keith – I actually spend relatively little on books – and almost never buy them new. Some books and audiobooks come from the publishers for review, but most come either from Bookmooch, the Friends of the Library booksale (where paperbacks are a dollar each), or are checked out of the library. I’m extraordinarily lucky to have one of the top libraries in the country in my town – they’ve got a huge selection of books and audiobooks, and are almost always willing to buy items I want but that they don’t have.

  4. keidalgrim permalink
    May 15, 2009 11:33 am

    I have visited the Bookmooch site but haven’t really dived in yet. I, too, make good use of my library, although the selection of audiobooks that I’m interested in reading is dwindling fast. Perhaps I should strike up a conversation/relationship with the librarians and request books I’m interested in listening to. Good idea!


  5. May 15, 2009 2:09 pm

    If you like Pratchett’s YA stuff, then you must give Maurice and his Amazing Educated Rodents a try, or if you want to step out of the Discworld, his latest Nation, is just about the best thing he’s written.

  6. May 15, 2009 3:44 pm

    I’m all for hilarity – this book sounds like a lot of fun!

  7. May 15, 2009 4:15 pm

    keidalgrim – My library’s extra-nice in that if you request something and they wind up purchasing it, you go first on the hold list. :)

    Bart – Maurice and his…. is actually one of the two other Pratchett novels I’ve read (two and a half, counting Good Omens), and while I liked it well enough, I just didn’t get what everyone was raving about. I might have to give it another try now that my head’s a little more in Pratchett-space.

    bermudaonion – I know you don’t read a lot of fantasy, but this series might be one to make an exception for!

  8. May 15, 2009 5:26 pm

    I have tried Pratchett in the past, too, and I am not a huge fan. I have plans to read more from him, but I never seem to accomplish it. ‘Nation’ was probably the first book I read by him in a couple years and I really liked it! Maybe not as much as others, but it was still good!

  9. May 16, 2009 11:21 pm

    I love this book! Then again, I love Pratchett. I used to have a review of this but I deleted the blog where I posted it :)

    And I sure would like to listen to the audio version. Sounds like double the fun if you listen to it too :)

  10. May 19, 2009 1:22 am

    Ooh, sounds like a good series then. I’ve read Nation and liked it, but didn’t love it. I’ll give this one a try!

  11. May 19, 2009 3:10 pm

    Kailana – Okay, it looks like I’m going to have to try Nation next!

    Lightheaded – It was pretty great… I’ve actually found myself using “Crivens!” in daily life. :)

    Kelly – Let me know how you like it!

  12. June 2, 2009 12:13 am

    I read and enjoyed The Wee Free Men just before I started blogging last year, and have been thinking recently about reading the rest of the series. I have the next two books waiting…sounds like I should go pull them out.

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