13 November 2009

Review of A Hat Full of Sky

Originally published in 2 parts, in May 2004.
Book 16 in my first 52 books challenge.


Author:Terry Pratchett
Published: 2004
Where got: Amazon.co.uk
Genre: Fantasy, children's

This book was delivered by the mailman on Friday afternoon, and I had to restrain myself not to start reading until after dinner. Finished reading it around midnight. I am going to read it again - more slowly - before I review it.

This is the sequel to The Wee Free Men and is the third Discworld book for children.

As usual, Pratchett has done an excellent job. The book is written for children, but is actually quite a good read for adults, who will read it at a deeper level. As this is a children's book, there are not as many allusions to other works as there are in the adult Discworld books, but there are still quite a few, some of which will be easily picked up by children and some which are better understood by adults.

Here be SPOILERS
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The story is slower than The Wee Free Men and not quite as laugh-aloud funny, but it is also deeper and more thought provoking and will (hopefully) teach children who read it a useful lesson about why it's bad to always act upon impulse. The previous story reminded me of Alice in Wonderland (except Tiffany is quite a lot brighter than Alice), but this one has elements of both Alien (the movie) and Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

The story is not as dark as The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (the first Discworld children's book), but is still about quite a serious subject. The Nac Mac Feegle (see The Wee Free Men or Carpe Jugulum) play an important part and provide many of the funniest jokes. As in the previous book, Pratchett has not made the reading too easy - you sometimes have to read the Feegle's dialogue out loud (in a Scottish accent if you can manage it) in order to fully understand it.

Pratchett writes realistically about the feelings and thoughts of eleven year-old witch-in-training Tiffany Aching. I remember feeling some of the things Tiffany does when I was at her age. The inclusion of Granny Weatherwax is a good touch and I recommend for anyone who wants full enjoyment from reading this story to have read not only The Wee Free Men, but also the short story "The Sea and Little Fishes", which introduces the Witch Trials and the character of Letice Earwig and explains why Granny doesn't like her.

Rating: Excellent book, recommended to anyone who likes fantasy, fairy tales and/or is a fan of Granny Weatherwax. 5 stars.

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