Continuing my occasional series as I work my way through Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, one novel at a time.
Today’s entry is for the 32nd novel, A Hat Full Of Sky.
First appearances: Miss Level, one witch in two bodies; Jeannie, new kelda for the Chalk’s Nac Mac Feegle clan.
Introduced to Discworld: how to eliminate a hiver.
Plot: Young Tiffany Aching is learning how to be a witch, but her efforts attract a hiver, a disembodied thing that takes over bodies of the powerful and leads them to ruin by granting them whatever the darkest corners of their minds desire.
Hivers can’t be killed, and no one has managed to shake one once it takes up residence. Tiffany has just started her more formal witch training under the care of Miss Level, a well-meaning old lady with two bodies and one mind. She knows next to nothing about magic and witchcraft, but she’ll need to somehow learn if she wants to be the first person to survive a hiver. Can she do so with the help of her friends the Nac Mac Feegles, Miss Level, and Granny Weatherwax?
Commentary: I think I know why I never really got around to reading the Tiffany Aching books before. I just don’t care for them. Tiffany isn’t given anywhere near the level of characterization of the other witches, and she’s a bit dull as a result. Granted, Pratchett intended Tiffany to be for younger readers, so some of the more mature ideas tossed around in the old witch books just wouldn’t really work with her. She’s only 11 years old here, and the level of adventure seems to mostly fit an 11 year old girl.
But that doesn’t mean a longtime Discworld reader like myself can’t help but be a little disappointed. Granny Weatherwax, this time without Nanny Ogg (though Nanny gets name-dropped at one point), does play a more substantial supporting role here, but she doesn’t seem like the Granny readers know from the other books. This is a Granny who seems inclined to actually give an open invitation to a little girl learning to be a witch. Given how Granny treated Magrat and Agnes, that doesn’t seem very likely. Granny seems downright sociable here. I wouldn’t call Granny nice in this book by any stretch of the imagination, but she also doesn’t seem as harsh as readers might be accustomed to seeing her. I can’t see Granny suggesting anyone could just stop by whenever, or use such a blatant display of magic to rescue Tiffany from another dimension like she does here. Granny was usually more about trickery, and we see that here, but…
I think the problem is I am an adult reader and this book was clearly for children. This isn’t even a YA book. Themes and characters are softened a bit.
I’m committed to finishing up this series, so that means I have three or four more Tiffany books to read. This one took me longer than I would have expected due to a lack of interest, so we’ll see how it works out. Pratchett’s last Discworld book was a Tiffany book after all.
But at least Death got his customary cameo in this time.
NEXT BOOK: The Discworld’s greatest con man, Moist von Lipwig, has been caught. His punishment? Fix the Ankh-Morpork post office. Be back here soon for Going Postal.
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
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