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11 December, 2005

Review: 'A Hat Full Of Sky' (Terry Pratchett, 2004)

Best Discworld novel yet?  Difficult to say; I only finished 'A Hat Full Of Sky' about 15 minutes ago, so my judgement might be impaired.  It's certainly one of the funniest, with at least five 'laughing-too-hard-to-breathe' moments.

It's marketed as a children's book, but that does seem to be mere marketing, and there's nothing simplistic or patronisingly childish about the writing. Whilst reading, I wasn't aware of it being aimed at children. I repeatedly forgot Tiffany is supposed to be eleven years old, which might have been a problem but not exactly a criticism, as it may reflect my own preconceptions more than Pratchett's ability to write a young lead character. Perhaps some of the philosophical subtexts were less 'sub-' than usual, but that's fine, and his usual 'stereotypes' trick* worked well.

'A Hat Full Of Sky' certainly is a Discworld novel, even if it isn't categorised as part of the main sequence. Despite Lancre not being mentioned, it's as much a 'Witches' novel as most, and the one character who appears in every Discworld book is in this one too.

*: Pratchett has a trick of encompassing several stereotypes, instantly imbuing a sense of familiarity: the reader immediately knows more about the characters than needs to be stated outright, and the reader therefore defines the characters in his/her own terms, according to his/her own perceptions. However, that's only half the trick – Pratchett goes on to challenge and subvert those stereotypes, saying something new about them.

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