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A Hat Full of Sky Paperback – 5 May 2005
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Pratchett's third children's novel set in the Discworld, and the second to feature wannabe witch Tiffany Aching and the Wee Free Men, is so ridiculously well written and consistently funny it makes you wonder how he can keep writing such superlative novels without cheating a bit. It would be reassuring to think that the Carnegie Medal-winning author of The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents and The Wee Free Men had his own small army of professional helpers, not unlike like a US sitcom, inventing and deliberating about which are the best jokes and plot lines to use to ensure the best quality quotient. But it's all his own work and that makes each brilliant novel more remarkable because of it.
A Hat Full of Sky continues the adventures of eleven-year-old Tiffany as she endeavours to become a proper witch. She's 'done' magic before, quite spectacularly and to great effect, but now she must be apprenticed to an established practitioner of the craft, the amazing Miss Level, in order to learn exactly how she did it. Unfortunately for her, there's a crazed and malevolent ancient spirit buzzing about, called a Hiver, who is looking for a convenient host to consume. Hiver's are attracted to greatness, and Tiffany hides an enormous talent that seems ripe for domination.
Still grateful for Miss Aching's past help, a crack team of several Wee Free Men, nature's funkiest, drunkest and bluest fairy folk, take it upon themselves to help Tiffany out. Hiver's, however, are unbeatable and it's a definite "sooey-side mission" to save the big wee hag from harm.
It's great to see writing of such quality in a children's novel, and it's further evidence that this sector of the publishing world is having a bit of a golden decade. Long may it continue! (Age 10 and over)--John McLay
"Pratchett's ear for dialogue is superb . . . His deep feeling for landscape, animals, kindness and courage make his adventures deeply satisfying as well as clever" (The Times)
"Oodles of dry wit, imagination and shrewdly observed characters" (Independent on Sunday)
"A great Pratchett strength is the sense that if the jokes . . . were dropped there would still be a good, engaging fantasy thriller here" (Independent)
"Fantastically inventive and humorous fantasy adventure. Fans will be sky high" (The Sunday Times)
"Funny, typically humorous . . . A must for any Terry Pratchett fan . . . With its witty and slightly confusing plot-twists and hilarious dialogue, this is, without doubt, another great children's book" (Bristol Evening Post)
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This is a really great romp of a story by a master storyteller. The characters are normal people seen through a looking glass in a way that allows the odd to seem normal and for the normal to be held up to sometimes be a little odd. It sees the return of the "Nac Mac Feegle", a race of pictsies that are harder to kill than cockroaches, that spend their time, fighting, drinking and stealing. The story allows the various characters to be developed further and although each of Sir Terry's books can be read on it's own, this one is better read after the first book in order to best enjoy the way that they progress.
The story is suitable for younger readers, but contains a lot of references that will raise a smile on the face of most adults. It does a great job of bridging the gap between the the age groups and would appeal to almost anyone. I imagine that any young person that read this book and then went back to read it a few years later might well find more to enjoy, hidden in the pages.
A great addition to the series of Diskworld novels, and a wonderful story with some astute observations about people and the way that they behave.
It has been a long time since I read an entire book in a single day but this one was just so absorbing and entertaining that I just could not put it down. The book is as intelligently written, bringing the characters and scenery to life as effectively if not better than any other Discworld book. The book is also as funny as anything else Terry Pratchett has produced in the last few years. The Nac Mac Feegle, while still important, have something of a reduced role in this book but they are still up to their old tricks and produce some of the most entertaining parts of the story.
If the previous book had a fault it was that it seemed to be somewhat isolated from the rest of the Discworld but thankfully that is put right here with appearances by such Discworld staples as wizards and Death, meaning that the book feels a part of the rest of the series. I cannot help but feel that Terry Pratchett was on top form once again for this book and I feel the final confrontation at the Witch Trials is one of the best sequences that he has ever put to paper. `A Hat Full of Sky' is a brilliant book and is not only my favourite Discworld book but has also stormed strait to the top of my list of all-time favourite books, I just worry that after this the next book in the series `Wintersmith' will not be able to live up to the same standards.
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