A Hat Full of Sky
by Terry Pratchett
Rating: 5 stars
‘Something is coming after Tiffany . . .
Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered goats! Surely there must be more to witchcraft than this!
What Tiffany doesn’t know is that an insidious, disembodied creature is pursuing her. This time, neither Mistress Weatherwax (the greatest witch in the world) nor the fierce, six-inch-high Wee Free Men can protect her. In the end, it will take all of Tiffany’s inner strength to save herself . . . if it can be done at all…’
This is the second book in my re-read of the Tiffany Aching arc. Two years after the events of The Wee Free Men, Tiffany is now an eleven year old with a reputation and she has caught the attention of the witches of the mountains. They’ve granted her wish to train to be a witch, by apprenticing her to a practitioner who specialises in magical research – Miss Level – but so far it’s involving far more old men’s toenails and wailing babies than she anticipated.
At this point in her life, Tiffany is a witch with far more power than control. She’s a bored teenager, struggling to deal with leaving home for the first time and finding that her grand adventure isn’t all that grand. For the first time in her life Tiff’s a small fish in a big pond and she struggles now she’s far from her own ground. This makes her vulnerable and leads to some thoughtless decisions with dangerous consequences…
One of the things I really love about the Tiffany Aching series is that she is rarely just swept up in events over which she has no control. She’s in control of her own fate and her involvement in these problems is often a direct result of her own mistakes, which makes it all the more important for her to fix it.
Of course, the infamous Feegles are still around to help her, but there have been big changes since Tiffany’s tenure as Kelda. There’s a new gonnagle Awf’ly Wee Billy Bigchin and a new Kelda ruling the roost with some big ideas. The last thing she wants is the previous Kelda hanging about, even if that Kelda is a human girl. But she soon learns to find some balance between the old and the new.
Like the rest of the folk of the chalk, Tiffany’s friend Roland doesn’t appear much in this book – although he is responsible for one of the strongest images from the series, Tiffany’s horse pendant. Pratchett’s ability to create such strong symbols has far from waned.
One of the highlights of the book is the group of young witches headed by Annagramma Hawkin. The mountain ‘coven’ is a lot of fun to read about. It’s rare that Pratchett gives us such an insight into the wider witchy community, and the coven’s preparations for the Witch Trials are a wonderful opportunity to see them all in their ‘natural environment’.
We also get to see more of Granny Weatherwax outside of the ‘Witches’ books and I love seeing her through Tiffany’s eyes. The two are very alike and it’s really interesting to see them interact – sparks are bound to fly…