Terry Pratchett – A Hat Full of Sky
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.
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.