Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett Read Along: Week 2

If you haven't read the book, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? Of course, you would need to read The Wee Free Men first, but that’s a short book and you could finish it a few minutes!

You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 6

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?

How can you not love a plan named “The PLN”? It is daring and requires a great deal of mental and physical strength, so we can expect it to be somewhat of a disaster as the Feegles are not known for their mind power! :D

The whole thing was hilarious, as one would expect, but there were several aspects that took it beyond the point of total silliness and it is so difficult to choose a favorite . . . I liked the way in which both the carter and stage-driver could become so conveniently blind and deaf (and unable to smell ferret droppings) when large chunks of gold were flashed about. I loved the new lease of life that struck Henry the cart horse. I particularly enjoyed his lascivious thoughts about the mares pulling the stage coach. However, I think that my real favorite was the reaction of the coach passengers to the wee Feegle head popping out through the flies of the trousers. I want to see this scene at the cinema SO badly! :D

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?

It all seems a bit like karma to me, but it is certainly an excellent way of helping a community to pull together. I liked the way that Miss Level was so impressed by Granny’s ability to get people to do things for each other and themselves.

I try to ‘do unto others’ and all that, although I find it rather difficult with some people and I could probably do more. I have lots of friends who are very generous with their time and energy, but I am not sure that any of them are quite as selfless as Miss Level is. However, I would say that the US has a much stronger culture of charity and volunteering than the UK.

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?

Good grief! With friends like Annagramma, who needs enemies?

Petulia seemed rather nice, if a little crazy, and the others would probably be fine if they were away from Annagramma’s influence, but at the moment I would advise Tiffany to stay as far as possible from the little group. I am probably not a very nice person, because I am really hoping that something intensely horrible happens to Annagramma, who is in desperate need of having her ego crushed a little . . . for her own good, you understand.

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 was very surprised about how easily the Hiver seized control of Tiffany. I had expected a period of fighting for control, but it seemed to be a fairly instantaneous transition. This strikes me as very worrying and I am very concerned about Tiffany’s ability to regain control of her body. At the moment it looks very unlikely that we will ever see the old Tiffany again, but I have faith that our heroine will be victorious. I do wonder what mischief the Hiver will create during its tenure, and whether Tiffany will ever be able to undo the damage to her reputation.

As for the Feegles, I know that they will not mean to break anything, but they are not the most careful of individuals . . .

Interesting Fact of the Week

William McGonagall was widely considered to be the worst poet in British History. For more about his Vogon-esque ability to make people’s ears explode, you can check out his page on Wikipedia, but I will not be held responsible for any injuries incurred! :D


  1. The scarecrow scene was really funny - every bit of it! Definitely difficult to choose a favourite.
    The Hiver is a nasty piece of work - it sort of makes me think of The Exorcist and in particular the scene where the girl trapped inside has made the words 'help me' stand up on her skin *shivers*. Tiffany keeps making all these sort of comments in the middle of conversations! I like that she didn't let the Hiver beat the goats!
    Lynn :D

    1. It is a very long time since I saw the exorcist, but demonic possession does seem like a good analogy . . . I hope there will be no pea soup involved! :D

  2. Ah, yes - ferret droppings. Stinky, uncoordinated, very odd passenger indeed. But hey, he (it?) has money, so simply ignore the oddities. And these guys have transported ferret-stinking passengers before, I am sure.

    I'm surprised by your observation on the US culture and charity and giving. I hadn't really thought to compare it to the UK, since there are so many similarities in our cultures. I would have expected it to be about the same in the UK, or a bit more since they have free healthcare - one less thing to worry about, so more time to do other things.

    You may very well get your wish with Annagramma. There is a Hiver on the loose!

    Thank you so much for the William McGonnagle link - awesome for him to be immortalized, even sideways, in the Tiffany Aching series.

    1. The UK and US are similar in so many ways, and yet so very different. Americans have a much more independent attitude to everything and are much more distrusting of the government and its agencies. Healthcare is a great example of this: many Americans seem to be content to let their insurance company decide what care they can receive but are mortally afraid of allowing the federal government to manage the system and therefore make it cheaper and much more efficient. The healthcare system is possibly the very worst thing about living in the US, and I am lucky because my hubby gets extremely good benefits through his employer. However, we pay more for it (see below) and I know that many, many people get little or no coverage whilst I get to go for a non-vital CT scan whenever I want because there is so much slack in the system. One advantage of this independence is that Americans are far more likely to actually make an effort to help other people and step into the place that would be occupied by local or national government in the UK - or at least that seems to be my experience.

      It is a common misconception that healthcare in the UK is totally free. All medical treatment is free at the point of service but everyone contributes to it National Insurance, which is a form of taxation and is a % of your income. There are also minimal fees for prescriptions: a flat rate of about $12 each, plus you can pre-pay to get discounts and many, many people qualify to get them all free (90% of prescriptions in England are free). Dental and optical services are also covered by the NHS and you pay a part of such treatment - in Scotland the regular check-ups are free and a filling costs you about $25.

      OK, I'll get off my soap box now! :D

  3. 1. I love how almost everyone mentioned the cart horse. Henry was great.

    3. I fully support the idea of Annagramma getting targeted by Hiver-Tiffany for a while before everything is resolved. I'll probably feel really guilty about wanting that if something gruesome happens to her though!

    5. It sounds like Tiffany was accidentally making it very easy with her "See Me" spell. I am wondering if her knowledge of how to go in and out of her body might give her an edge on fighting it, though.

    2. On the culture of charity, I can say that it definitely still exists in the rural American south (whatever other problems it has), or at least in North Carolina. In terms of Miss Level, the church basically functions as a local witch. The workers there organize and distribute goods and resources (donated by the community) to those in need. They also organize people to make sure the family-less elderly are taken care of (visitors, food, yard work, housework, etc.). On a more personal scale, there is a strong feeling of social obligation towards others in the community. I've seen people meeting outsiders (maybe from the north) and commenting critically "she/he seems nice, but he/she isn't very hospitable." The idea behind that being that people ought to give to others freely without being asked, and if they don't, it's a mark against their character. This is way more common in rural areas, but actually persists some in cities.

  4. I think that in many ways the US still has a feeling of community that is somewhat lacking the UK: perhaps this is due to the higher level of religious belief or maybe that the waves of immigration have led to groups living close to one another, even in the big cities.


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