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A Hat Full of Sky: A Tiffany Aching Novel (Discworld Novels) Paperback – 25 May 2017
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"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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The themes of the book are quite robust and do give the impression that they will last throughout the series of books, I am looking forward to the development of the different issues Mr Pratchett explores.
Equal Rites follows Eskarina Smith, a young girl who also happens to be the Discworld's first female wizard. We're also introduced to one of the most popular Discworld characters in this novel, the witch Granny Weatherwax. Granny takes Esk under her wing, and eventually grows to care for the girl beyond a student-mentor relationship. They travel together to the Unseen Academy, in order for Esk to start learning magic beyond what Granny can teach her.
But, as with most Discworld novels, trouble brews when a young apprentice wizard finds a way to summon the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions.
'Equal Rites' has a heavy feminist slant to it, which isn't for everyone. Pratchett became known for writing strong female characters over his career, but it didn't start here. Granny has hints of it, although those became far more apparent in the other novels that she stars in, but Esk is a blank slate. She has no real personality to speak of, and feels more like a deus ex machina than a character at times; her staff solves most, if not all, problems that she comes across with no real input from Esk herself.
This novel is worth reading, especially if you're a fan of Granny Weatherwax, but you won't miss an awful lot if you skip over it.
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.
This is the third in the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has the author's usual intelligence and wit, and a story where you always think you know where it is going, and then it goes somewhere (or somehow) completely different.
On to the next one...
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