This thread is for discussing A Hat Full of Sky in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.
For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:
Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.
Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.
We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.
Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.
Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2004
Introduction by swreader
swreader wrote: A Hat Full of Sky will always hold a very special place in my heart because it was this book that brought Tony and I together for the first time. And the rest of that story is history.
This book is also, clearly, a very special book to Terry. In the ARC and re-printed in the 1st American paperback Pratchett wrote something called “To the Readers” which reads, in part, as follows:
I had to write this book. In fact, other projects had to go on hold to let it past.
This was because certain scenes and characters just turned up and camped in my head and wouldn’t go away. When Miss Level said, “I left my long-distance spectacles on my other nose,” I knew I had to write more about this woman. I wanted to see what the Nac Mac Feegles would try this time. I wanted to do the “dancing with bees” scene. And writing The Wee Free Men had been fun.
You can’t start on your next planned book when another one is bumping gently but insistently against your brain.
This is it. . . . I know there’s going to be at least one more book about Tiffany because I know the title and some of the scenes. But it can wait . . . I hope.
While I do not think (honestly) that this is the best book Pratchett ever wrote, it is one of the most important because it is with this book that the Tiffany books clearly (in Terry’s mind) became a four part series. It’s also important because Tiffany is used to introduce more fully and to develop some of Pratchett’s major themes and ideas.
The idea that people are far more important in the scheme of things than anything else, finds its fullest expression thus far in this book. In this book Pratchett develops fully the difference between the “fake” witch (Mrs. Earwig and her pupil Annagramma) and the true witch. Granny makes the startling statement about Miss Level (and about who the best witch is) at the end of the fiery confrontation between Granny and Tiffany. Granny says of Miss Level, “We all do that, in our own way, and she does it better’n me, if I was to put my hand on my heart. That is the root and heart and soul and center of witchcraft, that is. The soul and center!” . . . Then speaking of Mrs Earwig’s penchant for occult jewellery, Granny summarizes the most important truth about witchcraft. “Oh, I daresay they’re all very well as decoration, somethin’ nice to look at while you’re workin’, somethin’ for show, but the start and finish, the start and finish, is helpin’ people when life is on the edge. Even people you don’t like. Stars is easy, people is hard.”
The book is full of ideas which Pratchett will develop further in other books (the concept of 2nd sight, gods and humans, true religion, understanding other people or species). But probably the most important one of this book is that to understand that we are all more alike than different is to lose fear and hatred for others. The Hiver isn’t some kind of monster—it’s like a frightened lost child that Tiffany finds the door to Death for. If all people really understood this concept, wars would be impossible.
I’ve always liked this book and the more I read it, the more I like it. It’s about (amongst other things) the difference between wishing for something and working for it. It’s about how impractical magic is when it comes to helping people and how the real magic is getting people to help themselves. I also think the Feegles, with the arrival of Jeanie, are far more developed from the first book.
But what did you think?
Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Sourcery)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served.