Mark Reads ‘A Hat Full of Sky’: Chapter 10

In the tenth chapter of A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany and Granny guide the Hiver away from populated areas and try to determine what to do next. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

The Late Bloomer

I know it’s genuinely sort of futile to try and guess where a Discworld book is going to go, but I thought that Tiffany’s big fight with the Hiver (and her ultimate success in expelling it) was definitely going to be the climax of this whole book. As I’ve said a few times now, I was not at all anticipating that this would be a story beat two-thirds of the way through the book, and that means… lord, am I unprepared. But I am enjoying the journey and all the surprising places it is taking me, and that absolutely includes Mr. Weavall. 

It’s got me thinking about how, in one sense, the witches are almost a form of social services that you’d normally see in a larger city and would be provided in a much more official capacity. I say that because there’s such a need in societies and cultures around the world to take care of our elders. Some cultures are much better at that than others. I grew up amidst families—largely Central American immigrants—where their abuelos and abuelas lived alongside the rest of the family in a single home. The idea of putting them in a group home or some sort of facility for elderly people was about as close to blasphemy. The same goes for my father’s side of the family, who were Hawaiian and Japanese. It was very common for three generations of the same family to be under one roof. My mom’s side… not so much. You left your family as early as possible to start your own, and a lot of what I saw or heard about from those relatives was a little closer to what Pratchett includes here. Of course, there’s also circumstance at work in Mr. Weavall’s life: he outlasted his wife and his two children, and without any other family to take care of him, who was going to see to his daily routines?

Witches. Miss Level had been doing it for ages, and now, by herself, Tiffany has taken over those duties. She recognizes the importance of what she does, now more so than she did at the beginning of the book, and it’s probably part of the reason her guilt is so immense. Mr. Weavall needed help, and Hiver Tiffany took advantage of his helplessness for her own gain. Despite that it’s been well-established that Tiffany herself was not responsible, she is still certain that she deserves to pay a price for what happened. 

So I love that Pratchett weaves a motif throughout this chapter that addresses this and the events of the book: sometimes, the world is unfair, so we should celebrate and embrace the times when it is not. Mr. Weavall’s savings were stolen by Hiver Tiffany, but the Nac Mac Feegle replaced it with the gold they were never going to use anyway. In this act is a beautiful fairness: the Nac Mac Feegle do not lose anything but something that was taking up space. The silver and copper that Hiver Tiffany stole is replaced. Mr. Weavall is now richer than he ever would have been.

And knowing that, he decides to return the favor. It’s fascinating that both this book and Steins;Gate, for which the final review is going up today, dealt me such a needed dose of optimism. Mr. Weavall is not necessarily sad that he’s near the end of his life or that he’s been granted a fortune with so little time to use it. No, he sees this turn of events as something to be celebrated, and so he decides to propose to Widow Tussy, someone who has been repeatedly kind to him, knowing that once he dies, he will pass his fortune on to her. It’s such a stark and gorgeous gesture, and no matter how much Tiffany tries to get him to see how silly this is, he refuses to budge. And why should he, when Widow Tussy was responsible for things like this?

“She was kind enough to loan ‘em to I one day when I had a difficult piece of pork to tackle, and a man doesn’t forget a kindness like that.”

Not just that, but Mr. Weavall is also the first of these characters to pay a witch for their services. And he’s the person Tiffany dreaded visiting more than anyone else! Thus, Pratchett gives us the tale of the late bloomer, and I feel it’s absolutely vital to the larger themes of A Hat Full of Sky. What role do we play in a complicated world that is often unfair? Well, sometimes, we spread fairness when we can, especially if that means we can pass along that fairness to someone else who needs it. As Mr. Weavall puts it, “The sun is shinin’, the birds is singin’, and what’s past can’t be mended, eh?” Which is exactly what Tiffany is fretting about: she wants to mend a past she wasn’t even responsible for. She can’t mend it; Miss Level will forever be one body instead of two. But look how the world has already changed since then! Maybe you can’t mend the past, but you can make the future better. 

The Wait

I said this on video, but I really want to expand on it. I love both the characters of Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax independently, and now I feel overwhelmed by how great they are together. Pratchett reveals new facets of the two of them just by having them interact, and he also pushes the story forward. I remain confused by the “three wishes” clue, but I loved that this came about because Granny encourages Tiffany to think these things through. Tiffany has long been a big thinker, but Granny acts here to help Tiffany accept that her instincts—no matter how initially confusing they are—are vital to the puzzle of the Hiver. There has to be a reason Tiffany’s subconscious put that thought into her conscious mind! I still don’t know what that is, but I do know from past books that a witch should trust her instinct and her other Thoughts. They crop up for a reason. 

And so, the two of them head up into the mountains, following the logic that the Hiver is most likely going to attack again, and Tiffany really wants to avoid another bout of collateral damage. It’s solid logic, but it’s also one of the very, very few options available. They can wait in Miss Level’s cottage or in town, or they can wait elsewhere. The waiting is important because it eventually establishes that the Hiver doesn’t think for itself so much as it uses the ghosts of what it possesses to think like them. Which means that the Hiver is vaguely aware of Granny Weatherwax and what she represents because Tiffany was afraid of Granny. (Why was Granny “stumbling” over rocks, though? I didn’t understand that bit. )

I also enjoyed the “waiting” because Tiffany got to spend so much time with Granny Weatherwax, and that time is probably going to be very instrumental in Tiffany’s growth. Sometimes, you have to witness how other people live and operate in order to learn. I mean, I’m much more of a visual learner when it comes to a lot of things? It’s one reason why I’m thankful that there are so many video recipes and instructional videos because THEY HELP MY BRAIN SO MUCH. 

So, what does Tiffany learn? Well, she sees Borrowing in the flesh, and it is, understandably, a little disturbing to her. She just came off of being taken over by a Hiver, so I get why she balks at the notion of Borrowing. But this is one of many tools that Granny utilizes to keep them safe and to stay knowledgable. And I do like that: so much of this is about information. Even while sleeping, Granny can still stay aware of the Hiver. I also imagine this is why she dislikes so many of the “toys” that other witches use. How ineffective are they? Do they actually provide a witch with information? Even if they do—like the shamble—there are better ways of discerning the same information that don’t involve physical objects or flashy items. 

I was also quite surprised—but immensely pleased!!!—by the appearance of Petulia. I also noticed that during her interaction with Granny and Tiffany, she was far less nervous than she ever was around Annagramma. She still says, “Um,” a bit, but no one makes fun of her for it. She isn’t shamed for it, and it means that she behaves more confidently. SEE? SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU AREN’T RUDE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE DIFFERENT FROM YOU??? Anyway: I also forgot about the Witch Trials, I have no fucking clue what the third wish is or where this book is going, but goddamn, it’s so, so good.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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