Sunday, August 08, 2004

Review: "A Hat Full of Sky" by Terry Pratchett

Vanity kills. That's the lesson that witch-in-training Tiffany Aching learns in Terry Pratchett's "A Hat Full of Sky" ($16.99, HarperCollins).

Well ... sort of.

Since she doesn't have a good mirror at home, Tiffany accidentally learns to project herself out of her body so that she can see herself. What she doesn't know is that when she does it, she's leaving her body open for anything to take it over. In this case, it's a mysterious creature called a hiver, which invades Tiffany and begins to abuse her powers by using them to intimidate and threaten people.

With the help of the a band of small, blue "pictsies" called the Nac Mac Feegle, her new teacher Miss Level and the legendary witch Granny Weatherwax, Tiffany has to cast the creature out and make everything right again.

This is Pratchett's third book for young readers set on the Discworld, which has been the site of more than 30 of his adult novels. Pratchett imbues these books with the same whimsy and bits of satire as his adult books, and they're just as entertaining.

Many of the gags are a bit different than Pratchett's usual to make them a little more accessible to younger readers, but there's still plenty for adults to appreciate.

I don't usually miss a new Pratchett book, but somehow I overlooked the first book in this series, "The Wee Free Men." Apparently, in that book, Tiffany casts out the evil Queen who oppressed the Nac Mac Feegle, thus earning their loyalty. The events of that book are important to "A Hat Full of Sky," but Pratchett provides enough detail that readers will have a sense of what happened even if they haven't read the first book. You still might want to pick that one up first, though.

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