On the jacket of the book Terry Pratchett looks like a wizard. He’s got a silvery beard and holding onto what appears to be a walking stick, but looks too fancy, looks like it would be better suited to stoking the fire or poking something. Maybe a unicorn or like a small magical gnome. I hadn’t heard much about Terry Pratchett except that he was wonderful, gushed over and that at the moment there is a mini-series running on ABC based on one of his books, “The Post Master.”
I hadn’t read anything by him before. But after reading A Hat Full of Sky I wonder what took me so damn long. It was probably because the IN YOUR FACE fantasy scared me away. You know the stuff – the scary bit in the library where the fuzzy-faced, big eyed people hang around and worship.
But that was a misconception, I know that now. My favourite creature in A Hat Full of Sky is the Nac Mac Feegle which are Scottish blue ugly fairies. ”They love drinking, fighting and stealing and will in fact steal anything this is not nailed down. If it is nailed down, they will steal the nails as well.”
Pratchett is very funny. In similar ways to Gaiman (which I assume Gaiman probably
copied took inspiration from the original fantasy man himself!) the narration is very tongue in cheek. While Gaiman gets very caught up in the folklore and grit and the uglier stuff of a faerie (it is faerie, not fairy to Gaiman) Pratchett tells the story in a simple world making it more accessible to younger readers.
A Hat Full of Sky is about eleven year witch Tiffany who leaves her homeland of Chalk to work for Miss Level and learn about the witching trade. Miss Level is one witch in two bodies and so has the amazing ability to do quite a lot of things – as one would expect if you had two extra arms and legs.
The Nac Mac Feegle are guards of the “wee big hag” – their term for a witch, and when they are not fighting one another or getting drunk off the turps they sense a bad presence following Tiffany to Miss Level’s – it is a hiver. A hiver is a nasty spirit or demon which takes over a person’s body and makes them do horrible but powerful things. The story follows the Nac Mac Feegle and Miss Weatherwax, who is another fabulous witch who help Tiffany fight the hiver. But of course Tiffany is very clever.
This is a book that will have you chuckling in public. Although I am going to have a break from fantasy and mix it up a bit with some contemporary writing – which is bound to be a shock to the system after so much pure escapism – I wouldn’t mind trying on some more Pratchett. It fits quite nicely.