December 27th, 2004

travel

Wee Free Men & Hat Full of Sky

I like Pratchett's writing. The worst of his stuff is still readable and usually only suffers if he decides to labour a message, like in the book Jingo. In recent times though, I've found his work becoming a little more formulaic, good stories well told but simply put through the discworld transmogrifier. And the stories, while being enjoyable and clever, haven't had that edge of originality that was definitely present in his early work, including non-discworld fare like Dark Side of the Sun.

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have half his talent, but it's with Wee Free Men and Hat Full of Sky that I am reminded that there are times where I would love one tenth his talent. It's rare that I am left sitting there wishing I could write as well as another author, not because I'm that good, but simply because there are few stories that reach the sort of level that I aspire to.* For me, these are some of his best work, bar none. The stories are engaging and clever, with good characters, a number of interesting ideas and a level of storytelling of which I had forgotten he was capable.

The main character, Tiffany, is a young girl heading towards becoming a witch. There are good solid depths to the character, layers and insecurities. She's not perfect and while that may be true of so many Pratchett characters, it's more obvious with Tiffany. You can feel that this is a similar journey towards adulthood and ability that Granny Weatherwax went through and there are many parellels between the two, but I'll let you discover that for yourself.

The thing that struck me with these two books for 'younger readers' was that they contain by far the creepiest and most disturbing ideas that we've had since Pratchett's early discworld work. The things that Tiffany has found herself up against have an edge of nastiness that reminds you that there are worse things than death. And that was the icing on the cake. An ongoing story of becoming with credibly scary threats that aren't easily beaten and require the character to keep her wits about her.

I'm ready to sit down and read the pair again. I can't give a much better review than that.

Cheers,
Danny


* I don't think I'll ever get to the level I aspire to, but hey at least I'll hopefully keep trying :)
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