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A Hat Full of Sky is a novel written by Terry Pratchett set on the Discworld, written with younger readers in mind. First published in 2004, it is set two years after The Wee Free Men, and features an 11-year old Tiffany Aching.

The book is also a sequel to the Discworld short story "The Sea and Little Fishes", which introduced the Witch Trials and Mrs Earwig. It is followed by Wintersmith.


The central theme in this book and the followup The Wintersmith, is 'coming of age' which is coupled with all the associated ideas of that theme; the question of identity, self sacrifice and responsibility. Tiffany is on the brink of adolescence and is becoming "more conscious of image" of both herself and the world. Pratchett explores the questioning of identity through Tiffany's development as an adolescent and as a witch as she comes to terms with wanting to be part of Annagramma's group of witches but not wanting to become just another sheep within that group, while developing herself as a witch and taking control of her life (as well as her mind), when the hiver tries to take her over. Tiffany, as represented when under the control of the hiver, demonstrates the attitudes, doubts and fears as well as the self-centeredness of the typical teenage girl.


A Hat Full of Sky revisits the young witch Tiffany Aching, who is preparing to leave her home in the chalk country (based on England's South Downs chalk country) and learn witchcraft as an apprentice and maid for the elderly witch Miss Level. Her former teacher, Miss Tick, who is also a witch, escorts her to the town of Twoshirts. Rob Anybody, the big man of the Nac Mac Feegle clan of the chalk wants to follow her because it is his duty to protect her but he acquiesces to his wife Jeannie who is jealous of Tiffany (after all Tiffany was once temporarily the Kelda for the clan and engaged briefly to Rob). At Twoshirts, Tiffany's mind is invaded by a hiver when she steps out of her body to eavesdrop on Miss Tick and Miss Level. A hiver is a primeval being with no body or substance that takes over the mind of those who are powerful and eventually destroys them. The encounter last only for a few seconds before Tiffany drives it out but it gives Tiffany and Miss Tick a fright. Miss Level then takes Tiffany to her cottage in the mountains. When she settles in to the cottage, Tiffany discovers that Miss Level has two bodies and a spirit named Oswald, an ondageist which is a sort of reverse poltergeist, a spirit that is an obsessive house cleaner. She works long hours with Miss Level to learn the use of plants, care for the sick and elderly and deliver babies. She takes a dislike to her studies, expecting that being a witch would be more glamorous and not be so thankless, dull and seemingly pointless.

Shortly after her arrival, Tiffany joins a group of apprentice witches her age ostensibly led by Annagramma Hawkin, whose leadership claim is based on having the tallest hat, the loudest voice and being bossy. Tiffany leaves the group after they, led by Annagramma, ridicule her when she tells them about her imaginary hat. When she returns to her room at the cottage, she temporarily leaves her body to look at herself from outside herself which gives the hiver the opportunity it wants. It finds her and takes over her mind. At first Tiffany doesn't realize what has happened, until it is too late for her to take action. The hiver inside Tiffany's mind causes her to abuse her powers of magic. creating chaos, killing one of Miss Level's bodies, scaring away Oswald, stealing Mr Weavall's money, turning the store owner's assistant Brian into a frog with his left over bits becoming a balloon and terrifying Annagramma. It is explained that the Hiver does not change the way she acts, merely allows her to do what she would do if she had no conscience. Her fellow witches are worried by Tiffany's strange behavior and try to bring her back to herself.

When Jeannie sees that Rob is listless and at a loss, she realizes that she has made a big mistake in preventing Rob from following Tiffany so she reluctantly gives her blessing for Rob to go after her. Rob and the Nac Mac Feegles head to Lancre in disguise to help Tiffany (they disguise themselves as a human by standing on top of each other and wearing human clothes). They enter Tiffany's mind in order to drive off the Hiver with Miss Level's assistance. With the help of Mistress Weatherwax, Tiffany makes amends for her evil deeds while under the control of the hiver and then journeys into the mountains on a quest to deal with the hiver. When this is not successful she and Granny Weatherwax return to Lancre for the witch trials, an annual event where witches show off what improved skills they have learned. Here she senses the hiver moving in on her once again and is told by Granny that she must face the hiver alone. Tiffany welcomes the hiver to her mind, and discovers that the hiver doesn't understand humans, it just wants to seek shelter from the world because it senses everything - suffering from a kind of sensory overload. Tiffany names the hiver Arthur (giving it an identity) and teaches it how to die which is its ultimate goal. She leads it to the doorway to death and shows it the way across the desert to the world of the dead. However, as she turns to exit the world of death, she finds that the door she entered has disappeared and that she is trapped with Death in the underworld. Fortunately, it turns out that Granny hasn't left her entirely on her own to deal with the hiver and she reopens the door to rescue Tiffany. It is clear that this performance is the highlight of the Witch Trials but it is so hard for the other witches to describe and define what exactly has taken place, if anything has really happened, and neither Granny or Tiffany will explain. Therefore Petulia wins the Witch Trials with her demonstration of pig boring (a play on horse whispering) using a sausage because there are no pigs available. Granny Weatherwax then gives Tiffany her hat but she later returns it because she wants to make her own. The novel ends with Tiffany returning to the chalk for lambing season to take the place of her dead grandmother as the witch of the land. A witch's hat is very important, because it lets other people know that you are a witch. However through the story it is revealed that Tiffany does not need the traditional hat that she had been wearing. She decides to make her hat out of the sky which ties in neatly with the "invisible hat" that she had been given by Granny Weatherwax after the events of The Wee Free Men.

Popular References and Annotations[]

The mention early in the novel of Tiffany's mind leaving her body behind as well as Granny Aching's smells, Jolly Sailor tobacco, sheep's wool and turpentine and the traditional fairy tale three wishes foreshadow the events later in the novel when Tiffany has to fight off the hiver.

Miss Tick warns about witches "going to the bad" and ending up "cackling to yourself all alone in a gingerbread house, growing warts on your nose". The gingerbread house and witches in the oven is a common reference in the witches series of Discworld and a reference to Black Aliss who is patterned on the witch in the Grimms Fairy Tale Hansel and Gretel.

Alea jacta est is Latin for the die is cast. Quid pro quo means to get something for something.

Tiffany thinks that, since she is eleven now, she "shouldn't slide down holes in the ground to talk to little men'. This is an obvious reference to Lewis Carrol's Alice in Wonderland where Alice slides down the rabbit hole to her adventures.

"Miss Tick's" name is an obvious play on "mystic", appropriate for a witch.

The shambles Miss Tick makes has its basis in the child's game 'cats cradle' which Pratchett, through Tiffany makes very clear in case anyone has missed the obvious (it is a younger reader's book after all). It is a universal game; different cultures have different names for the game, and often different names for the individual figures. The French word for manger is crèche, and cattle feed racks are still known as cratches. In Russia the whole game is called simply, the game of string, and the diamonds pattern is called carpet, with other pattern names such as field, fish, and sawhorse for the other figures—a cat isn't mentioned. The game may have originated in China where the game is called fan sheng (English: well rope), or catch cradle. In some regions of the U.S., this game also is known as Jack in the Pulpit. The first forms of cat's cradles that Tiffany describes are in fact all real forms; The Jewels is also known as The Diamonds, The House is known as The Siberian House and The Cradle is also know as The Manger) , however 'The Three Old Ladies, One With a Squint' is an obvious reference to witches (the three witches of Macbeth, the maiden, the mother and the hag of the witch triumvirate, etc) (one real form is The Witch's Broom) and 'Carrying the Bucket of Fish to Market When They Meet the Donkey' is Pratchett carrying the concept to the extreme because the latter two would be far too complicated to be among the 'common shapes'. There is no magical aspect to a Roundworld 'shambles'. The word simply means a 'mess' but it originally was an 'open air slaughterhouse and meat market'. There is still an old area in York known by that name.

Tiffany says, "I'll just go and have a look at a tree then, shall I?" to which Miss Level replies, "I should use the bush if I was you dear". This is an obvious double entendre in the same vein as 'going to see a man about a dog'; in this case actually looking at a tree vs going for a pee. The exchange is a play on men (like male dogs) going to pee on a tree versus women ducking behind a bush to do the same business.

The hiver that takes over Tiffany's mind is a kind of primal awareness. They were formed in the first seconds of Creation. They have no body, no brain, no thoughts, but they do have the ability "to crave and to fear." They also have memory -of everything. Normally, they cannot be seen but can be faintly heard, with a sound like a swarm of flies, and animals can certainly sense them. In the context of living things, a hiver is like a kind of hermit crab, or in the example given by Professor Bustle, the Hermit Elephant of Howondaland. It seeks safety in the strongest possible refuge taking over the mind and body of other creatures, normally powerful creatures, like tigers, and when attacking Humans, aiming for powerful ones such as Wizards and monarchs. It s not a parasite. It does not intend to consume its hosts, but in seeking to reinforce them by giving them the power to fulfil their wishes, it destroys them. The people and things a hiver consumes become incredibly powerful, eventually dying insane. The name resonates with the French word 'hiver' (pronounced ee-ver) which means 'winter'. It foreshadows the elemental force in the next novel in the series, "Wintersmith". It also connects with the English word for someone who raises bees, a 'hiver' (pronounced hive - rrr) which ties in with the buzzing sound it makes.

In looking down on the white horse from Miss Tick's broom, Miss Tick says that it doesn't look much like a horse to which Tiffany replies, 'taint what a horse looks like, It's what a horse be". The Discworld horse resonates with the Uffington White Horse which is cut in the chalk on the South Downs of England. It has the energy and flow of a horse in motion and is best viewed from the air, another one of the kind of examples Erich von Daniken used in his book "Chariot of the Gods" to 'prove' that earth was colonized or visited from space millennia ago. Pratchett refers to von Daniken in The Hogfather.

While on the broom and looking down at the Chalk, Tiffany wants to 'click her heels together' to go back home, a reference to The Wizard of Oz and Dorothy clicking her heels together to return to Kansas.

The image of Tiffany on the broom being air sick, needing long underwear to keep warm and being 'afraid of depths' rather than 'heights' is a delightful twist because riding on brooms through the air is an iconic image of witches but no one stops to think what that really entails and 'what if'. She clearly eventually gets use to broom travel because it is not mentioned in later works. The whole journey is turned into a kind of broom airplane journey. She dozes on the way, has a snack and is greeted at the end by candles forming a series of runway lights.

The 'mystery' of Miss Level conjures up all the traditional images of the evil witch in the cottage in the woods and gets Tiffany's mind racing - wondering if the beef stew is made of the last girl who stayed there.

Pratchett plays with the word 'egress' (exit) throughout the novel, making fun of the way words get used in the wrong context by 'supposedly intelligent people'. Egress becomes a female eagle (a combination of eagle or eaglet and the feminine suffix ess), a female ogre (ogress), a small heron (egret),

Miss Tick mentions that Miss Level researches goats and their homogenized fats. This is a poke at the debate of the benefits of goat milk over cow milk because the former's milk is homogenized 'naturally'.

Miss Tick adds that the research includes studying 'ear of bat and toe of frog' and says that this is humane research because these are frogs that have died naturally or been run over or committed suicide. This is a humorous mix of the real world and the fairy tale world since firstly, squashed frogs on the road are a common sight in Roundworld and presumably Discworld and are likely going to be too pressed flat for any definitive study of their toes and secondly, princes who have been turned into frogs with no prospects of being turned back into princes would, not surprisingly, tend toward being suicidal.

"There can be only one" is a quote from Highlander, which has been used in several Pratchett Discworld novels from The Wee Free Men to Carpe Jugulum.

The spirit named Oswald is an ondageist - a ghost with an obsession for cleaning. "Geist " means ghost in German. "Onda means 'wave' in Spanish but has also come to mean 'flow' or 'essence' (especially in Mexican Spanish). "Ontology" is the branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of being or existence. Some sources suggest that Pratchett is playing on "Lee Harvey Oswald" with Oswald's name because "Harvey" was an invisible rabbit in a movie of the same name and this Oswald is also invisible. Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin who murdered US president John F Kennedy on Nov 22, 1963 and Pratchett has used JFK references in other novels.

The doctrine of signatures, dates from the time of Dioscorides and Galen and states that herbs resembling various parts of the body can be used by herbalists to treat ailments of those body parts. A theological justification, as stated by botanists such as William Coles, was that God would have wanted to show men what plants would be useful for. Paracelsus (1493–1541) developed the concept, writing that "Nature marks each growth ... according to its curative benefit". It is generally considered pseudoscience nowadays but its practice has led to deaths and serious illnesses caused by ingesting poisonous plants.

The false gentian with the minute writing on it that says, 'Good f4r colds, may cors drowsniss. No not oprate heavE mashinry' is a play on the standard labels on pill bottles issued by the pharmacy and the safety warnings their instructions contain. Since the witches are the pharmacies in Discworld (and medieval Roundworld) and their pills are the plants they use, this is quite appropriate.

When Tiffany responds hotly to Miss Level's suggestion that Granny Aching might have been a cackler, Miss Level says, "I'm sure she did, I'm sure she did". This resonates with the line from the Monty Python sketch Nudge, nudge, wink, wink; "I bet she does, I bet she does".

Professor Monty Bladder's Three Ring Circus is typical British style humour - 'Bladder' having its literal meaning but also meaning 'drunk' (bladdered) and 'Monty' is a reference to the British slang term for ' going the whole way" as in the movie The Full Monty meaning to 'take it all off and go completely naked.' There is also the obvious "Monty Python's Flying Circus' which Pratchett references regularly.

Gwinifer "Old Mother" Blackcap, the mentor to Petulia Gristle, is a pig-borer, cow-shouter and all-round veterinary witch. (The terms "pig-borer" and "cow-shouter" are obvious plays on the horse whisperer, which was a 1998 movie of the same name starring and directed by Robert Redford. According to The Discworld Almanak, pig-boring is a humane form of slaughter in which the animal is talked to death.)

The Lancre Witch Trials were first mentioned in the short story, The Sea and Little Fishes. It is a play on a number of words and concepts: As Tiffany is quick to note, Annagramma's coven members are like sheep being worried by a sheep dog so there is the obvious connection to Sheep Dog Trials - a competition between people and their dogs (or in this case, between witches like at a 'school sports day'). It then adds the traditional idea of a 'trial before judge and jury (or Inquisition) for being a witch. Finally it connotes the concept of being tested until you can prove that you have reformed your ways or demonstrated your worth - 'being placed on trial'. In The Sea and Little Fishes it is Granny who demonstrates to the people, the other witches, and like it or not, to Lettice that her way is the best way for her character to behave. In A Hat full of Sky, Tiffany has to prove herself to the other members of Annagramma's coven.

Miss Level threatens to deprive the Nac Mac Feegles of any taste of her 20 year old MacAbre Single Malt Whiskey which is bottled by Jimkin Bearhugger's Whiskey Distillery and is Ankh-Morpork's finest and most expensive whisky. Sir Samuel Vimes once had to empty an entire bottle onto his carpet to foil an elaborate set-up which, even more than the attempted entrapment, made him more determined to catch the perpetrators. In Roundworld, the prefix "Mac-" is attached to some of the finest Scotch single malt whiskies available; Macallan and MacPhail being two examples, and these are often referred to as simply "The -----"; The MacAllan" being one example. Although there are far more decent whiskeys prefixed with Glen- or La-, Mac is authentically whiskyish, being definitively Scottish. This particular whiskey's name has an added play on words because 'macabre' means "gruesome" and is associated with the horror of death, murder and decay.

When Tiffany is at Zakzak's witches emporium she is looking at the hats, one of which is a safety hat, guaranteed to survive 80% of falling farmhouses. This is an obvious reference to The Wizard of Oz and the fate of the wicked witch of the east - crushed by Dorothy's falling farmhouse.

Awfully Wee Billy, the Gonnagle calls his fellow Nac Mac Feegles "a parcel of rogues" for fighting instead of saving Tiffany. "Parcel of rogues" comes from a 1791 Robert Burns poem called "Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation" in which he decried those members of the Parliament of Scotland who signed the Act of Union with England in 1707. The poem was revived by Ewan MacColl and then popularized by the English folk rock group Steeleye Span in 1973. Steeleye Span was Terry Pratchett's favourite group. The rest of Awfully Wee Billy's speech is a mix of Scottish sounding curses and the kind of thing one would expect Scottish heroes such as William Wallace or Robert Bruce to yell to rally their supporters.

The description of feeling one's feet and toes even after having one's legs amputated is also a Roundworld phenomenon known as "phantom limbs".

Granny Weatherwax says, "Get your mind right, Miss Level, and the world is your....what's that thing, lives in the sea, very small, folks eat it?" To which Tiffany replies, "Shrimp?" The real expression is obviously, "The world is your oyster", but it is not surprising Pratchett uses 'shrimp'. Shrimp features prominently in Foul Old Ron's favourite expression "millenium hand and shrimp' throughout the Discworld series.

"They were treated like royalty - not the sort who get dragged off to be beheaded or have something nasty done with a red-hot poker." The first part of this sentence is a reference to Charles I of England who was beheaded during the revolution as well as to the fate of the French king and queen, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Beheading was a popular way of disposing of an unpopular ruler. In the middle ages red hot pokers were a popular method of torture; heated branding irons were passed back and forth in front of a person's eyes until the victims were blinded by the scorching heat. Vagabonds, gypsies and brawlers were branded ('V' for the first two, "F" for fighter for the last one). Most gruesome of all, the poker was inserted into a body orifice such as the anus until the victim died excruciatingly. King Edward II was supposedly executed this way in 1327, some historians suggest because he was a homosexual.

The book of fairy tales says that food for an adventure consists of bread and cheese; 'hard cheese' because it is durable. As well as being 'food', and something that Tiffany is an expert at making, hard cheese is an increasingly archaic British expression for 'bad luck'. It originated in the early 19th century and was used as a general indication of unsatisfactoriness; the first citation was in 1837 in a play called The Tiger at Large, which was printed in a collection of plays called The Acting National Drama, edited by Benjamin Webster.

Esme Weatherwax asks Tiffany to call her 'Granny' as an honorific like "Old Mother So-And-So, or Goodie Thingy or Nanny Whatshername". All hint at fairy tale and nursery rhyme figures like "Old Mother Hubbard, or Mother Goose. "Old mother" and "Nanny" are terms used in connection with elderly women such as crones, hags and witches.However, Goody was another term for 'Mistress'. It was used in reference to a lower class of married woman (particularly an older one, whereas Mistress would be used for a higher class woman. In particular it was used during the Salem Witch trials when addressing the women accused of witchcraft.

The scene at the witches trial involving the roped off area (like a corral or ring) and the showdown with the hiver is straight out of any typical western movie like Shootout at the Okay Corral, or High Noon. The scene takes place at noon; noonlight as Granny says, and Granny (the old gunslinger) gives Tiffany (the young marshall) a pep talk about the coming showdown, facing it, the fact that its coming for you, .

Pratchett says that the "ancient tiger still burned brightly in the back of (Tiffany's) brain. This is a reference to the William Blake poem, "The Tyger". The first line is: "Tyger Tyger, burning bright,. In the forests of the night.

Granny Weatherwax says to Tiffany, "I never got where I am today by supposin' I was goin' to lose". This is a reference to the TV series and books by David Nobbs, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin" where the character CJ is always saying "I didn't get where I am today by....." This is a regular reference in Pratchett's Discworld series (The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents for one).

After Rob Anybody is used in Tiffany's shambles, he says, "I could murrrder a kebab!" This is a reference to a British expression "I could murder a ....." meaning "I could eat anything right now". The line used by Rob Anybody was used in the British reality TV show Geordie Shore and has now evidently led to a doner kebab scented perfume.

The hiver, when he is trying to establish an identity, uses lines very reminiscent of French philosopher Rene Descartes. "I think therefore I am". By naming him "Arthur" Tiffany completes his identity which allows him to die as a being instead of being stuck forever as an essence.

The scene behind the door with the desert draws the reader back to earlier works such as Small Gods but is also reminiscent of the legend of Orpheus in the underworld, a theme used again in the next Tiffany Aching Novel, Wintersmith.

In the world of fairy tales everything happens in threes; three sons, three quests, three maidens, three golden apples and the most important of all 'three wishes'. Tiffany knows that the third wish is the key and asks a succession of people. "What is the third wish?" At the last moment, she finds Granny, who tells her that the third wish is to undo the damage that has been caused by the other two. With this knowledge she is able to defeat the hiver.

Pratchett says, "The Ducking Stool was very popular among young children on such a hot day." Ducking stool are popular at modern fairs, but the significance of their presence at Witch Trials goes without saying.

Annagramma says to Tiffany, 'I'm telling you this as a friend.' Clearly Annagramma has picked this line up from Mrs. Earwig under whom she is apprenticing because Mrs Earwig used this line on Granny Weatherwax in The Sea And Little Fishes, prompting Nanny Ogg to think that "Nobody even remotely friendly would say a thing like that."

Tiffany tells Annagramma to "please learn what literally really means". As an author and someone who has an encyclopedic understanding of words and language, Pratchett is clearly firing a shot at all those vacuous readers out there who throw 'literally' into ever sentence in the completely wrong context. Annagramma does not learn, using the word incorrectly in the next novel as well.

Goody Trample and her singing mice reminds the reader of the earlier Pratchett children's novel, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents ,as well as the many performing animal tricks both real and in spoofs such as Arthur Ewing and his Musical Mice from Monty Pythons Flying Circus.

The witch who demonstrates a new way to stop people form choking is clearly demonstrating the Heimlich Maneuver.

In this witch trial "there were no judges, and no prizes." In The Sea And Little Fishes Mrs Earwig did set up a judging panel, and spends ten dollars on a trophy cup. Given how that turned out it is not surprising she has not tried it again.

Tiffany says, "When I'm old I shall wear midnight." This is a paraphrase of the opening line of Jenny Joseph's 1961 poem Warning: "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple". In a poll by the BBC it was voted Britain's most popular poem. It also forms the title of a later book in the series.


  • Klobouk s oblohou (Czech)
  • Een hoed van lucht (Dutch)
  • En hat fuld af himmel (Danish)
  • Kübaratäis taevast (Estonian)
  • Tähtihattu (Finnish)
  • Ein Hut voller Sterne (A hat full of Stars - German)
  • Un cappello pieno di stelle (Italian)
  • En hatt full av himmel (Norwegian)
  • Kapelusz pełen nieba (Polish)
  • Un Chapeau De Ciel (French)
  • Шляпа, полная небес (Russian)
  • כובע מלא שמיים (Hebrew)
  • Un sombrero lleno de cielo (Spanish)
  • Шапка пълна с небе (Bulgarian)

External links[]



This page uses content from the English Wikipedia.

The original article was at A Hat Full of Sky. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with the Discworld Wiki, the text of Wikipedia:Wikipedia is available under the Wikipedia:GNU Free Documentation License.