Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Read-Along: Part 2 of A Hat Full of Sky

Another Wednesday, another read-along post! This week focuses on Chapters 4-6 of Terry Pratchett's A Hat Full of Sky, and the discussion questions are provided by Dab of Darkness. Next week, Little Red Reviewer will be again hosting.  The overall review of The Wee Free Men will be coming very soon, and it will be followed by my Women of Genre Fiction pick for this month, Joan D. Vinge's The Snow Queen. My blog activities have been slowed a bit lately for completely unrelated job reasons, but I feel like things are going to settle down any day now (I hope I haven't just jinxed myself)!  

This Read-Along has spoilers up through Chapter 6 of A Hat Full of Sky!

1) Awf'ly Wee Billy, the gonnagle, comes up with a plan, the PLN. First, do you like the basic idea? Second, what was your favorite part of the execution of the PLN? 

I think it is ridiculous that they actually thought the PLN would work!  The only reason it did was because they had an overabundance of gold just laying around to use.  My favorite part was definitely the carter's horse, and its dream coming true. What a fast, glorious run!

2) Miss Level has a philosophy of 'storing it in other people'. How do you like this philosophy and do you know any witchy people in life who might be secretly following it?

I think it makes sense, and I like the idea of always trying to put your excess to use for the good of others.  Taking the example from the book literally, I have had gardening relatives who stored their crops in friends and acquaintances.  They really had to, or the food would just rot. In a less literal sense, all charity kind of follows the same pattern.  Those of us who have been incredibly lucky in life really should 'store' our abundance in those who are not so lucky.

3) We finally get to meet some other witchlings, such as Petulia and Annagramma. What do you make of Tiffany's first meeting with them?

Petulia seems like a nice kid, and I'm sure she'll eventually grow out of her hesitance and fear of confrontation (once she gets away from Annagramma).  I am trying very hard not to go off on a rant about Annagramma!  If I were Tiffany, I wouldn't hang out with them again.   If I were Hiver-Tiffany, I would definitely give Annagramma a piece of my mind.

I think that Pratchett has portrayed a highly believable group of 10-11 year old kids, despite the fact that they're all young witches in Discworld.  I think a lot of children that age will identify very strongly with Tiffany's humiliation, since children really come into their cruelty around that age.  I think it might be because they don't really understand the consequences of their words and actions for other people.  They just see how fun it is to control their peers.  Tiffany herself even falls into a bit of this kind of behavior, with her treatment of Roland.  She doesn't really register his discomfort, just that it's fun to make him stammer and blush.

4) The Hiver has finally found Tiffany and Miss Level has finally met the Feegle. How do you think Tiffany will fair against the Hiver and how much damage do you think will be done (either by the Hiver or the Feegle)?

I am hoping the hiver verbally shreds Annagramma, but I'm betting she's going to turn on the whole 'sabbat' team. She was already really horrible to Petulia, though I'm sure Petulia will forgive her later.  I think its a very good sign that Tiffany was able to stop the hiver from beating the goats, so I think she'll be able to keep it from doing anything really horrific.  The Feegle probably won't destroy too much, they're here to help! Right? ;)
Other Notes:

I'm betting the reason Tiffany is having such a hard time with magic is simply because she isn't on the Chalk.  We've heard that witches draw power from their land, and Miss Tick had a hard time with magic in Tiffany's homeland.  I have been wondering why the hiver can do so much more magic with Tiffany's body.  I thought it was nothing but hunger, and that it thrived on the power of others.  Is Hiver-Tiffany's power coming from somewhere or something else?


  1. I thought that Tiffany was quite a strong witch but just not yet aware of it or how to draw on her own power. The Hiver seems to have realised that about her. At least that's how I was reading it (but that could be quite incorrect!)
    'children really come into their cruelty around that age' - I like this phrase (must remember to steal it!)
    Lynn :D

    1. That could be it, too. And thanks, feel free to steal the phrase :).

    2. I thought children came into their cruelty at birth! :D

  2. oh, I went on a total rant about Annagramma! she's a snotty little girl who is a bully! i wish the Hiver had gotten her, she deserved it. Pratchett does get the attitude and behavior of pre-teen girls just about perfect, doesn't he?

    I love your idea that Tiffany is having trouble with the magic because she's away from her land, away from the Chalk, that's brilliant!

    1. I fully agree with your rant! Pratchett portrays the pre-teen girls so well, it really reminds me of being that age. I am still holding out hope that the hiver is going to do something to her. I mean, it thinks it's Tiffany, so surely its making a beeline for Annagramma at this point.

  3. 1. It just goes to show that money makes anything possible! :D

    2. Without wishing to get too nostalgic, it sounds like the way human society was (and still is in some places) before urbanization destroyed the extended family unit and made us all strangers who don't help one another. It's a more direct and personal barter system that sounds pretty idyllic to me.

    3. Good point! Hiver-Tiffany is going to kick Anna's backside when they have their confrontation . . . I'll get the popcorn . . .

    I'm not sure if it the distance from the Chalk, but more that Tiffany is so analytical and self-aware. If you are supposed to do magic without really knowing how and "just letting it happen" then Tiffany is going to struggle, because she is so controlled. Also, she is desperately homesick and failing miserably, which could mess up anyone.

    1. 2. Yeah, I think that is one reason why I've never been a huge fan of living in larger cities! I think this culture remains much more in rural areas.

      I think you have a good point about Tiffany being so analytical, and about her homesickness. I know that can really destroy your self-confidence, having your whole life changed like that. Maybe Tiffany's magic-problem is a combination of everything?

  4. You are so right about the cruelty of kids. And it is great that you point out that Tiffany has done a little of this behavior in making Roland stammer and blush - tho she is no where near as bad as Annagramma. Such a silly name, btw.

    I too really enjoyed the cart horse running for all he's worth. We have donkeys, the neighbors have horses, so we get to see a lot of equine behavior. When reading that scene, all I could think, was 'so absolutely true!'

    1. I think the worst thing about Annagramma's name is that I wasn't able to come up with any clever anagrams from it!