Crivens! That wee big hag is back! Is Terry Pratchett's thirtyfirst Discworld Novel his best??

"A Hat full of Sky" is Terry Pratchett's (Britain's most read living author) thrirtyfirst novel set on that flat, round world sitting on the shoulders of three immense elephants, standing on Great A'Tuin, the giant turtle floating in space. This is the third discworld novel especially written for younger readers (after The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents and The Wee Free Men), but it feels and reads like a normal discworld novel. In fact, it's as good as any of the stuff written in Prattchett's best period (between Men at Arms and Jingo, before his novels became dark feminist parables) and full of beautiful images, fantastic insights into the human mindset and glaswegian.

Tiffany Aching, the granddaughter of the Chalk's foremost witch, the big wee hag of the wee free men and witch in spe is being send by her parents to see the world as a dairy maid far away in the mountains. Unbeknown to them, she is actually taken to Mrs. Level, a split body witch (one mind in two bodies) who lives in a remote cottage with a Poltergeist suffering from OCD. There she's supposed to learn the basics of witchcraft and how to serve your local community (which is what witching is really all about. Oh yes, and no warts please). Everything goes spiffingly, until an ancient evil manages to possess Tiffany, threatening to destroy her whole environment. Fortunately she has friends: Granny Weatherwax and the wee free men sort out the whole mess. Or do they?

This is the most poetic of all Discworld books: A "coming of age" story, embedded in tales of loss, pride, perseverance, magic and er, sheep lininment and turpentine. There are songs, poems and bits of prose that are straight out of fairy tales that you really never wanted to know...

Pratchett manages to steer you from tears to laughter in a matter of a few pages, and the description of the pictsie's sociolingual habits certainly show an intricate understanding of glaswegian culture.

The old women's lover' s best book so far, och ay?

P.S. And yes, there is dancing with bees. But not in the buff!

P.P.S:Oh, and Death does return. Albeit having his hands full with a Nac Mac Feegle.

Source: "A Hat full of Sky", Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, 2004

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