Mark Reads ‘A Hat Full of Sky’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of A Hat Full of Sky, Tiffany and Granny make an important decision during the Witch Trials. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

In the world of the Disc, and particularly in the society of witches, appearances are everything. Indeed, this factors into how magic works and what’s considered magic. And that’s certainly different based on who is observing it; who is using it; who is on the receiving end of it. There is much that witches do that Tiffany did not consider “magic” at first, and there is much the witches do that every day citizens of their towns and villages believe is magical and terrifying. And the sort of magic we see here during the Trials is a lot more straightforward, stuff that would be considered “magic” by anyone, witch or not. 

But the appearance of magic and the appearance of power is vital to these characters. We’ve seen it before in Granny’s headology, and this chapter provides us with more context on the idea of reputation and respect amongst witches. On the surface, there are no winners of the Trials, so to speak, but all the witches quietly know that there is a winner, and that Granny Weatherwax is often that winner. And given recent events, there is an expectation that of all the witches present, either Granny or Tiffany will demonstrate their immense power to the gathered assembly. And why not? They both just did something incredible and impressive, and everyone knows it. 

So that expectation hangs over the Trials, especially since Granny gave her hat to Tiffany. I saw it as an intentional move, one that granted Tiffany a level of respect simply because, as the text puts it: 

Why did Mistress Weatherwax give the girl her hat, eh? What’s she want us to think? She never takes off her hat to no one!”

Granny Weatherwax knew. She knew the Hiver would go after Tiffany into Death’s realm. She knew that the other witches would lose their shit over the gesture. She knew that, in the end, it would grant Tiffany a sense of mystery and respect. And it’s important that Tiffany knew that part, too. She knew that the best thing she could do was nothing at all. Which is exactly what happens during the Trials! Oh, Petulia is the first to get up and demonstrate her skill, which has a satisfying sense of closure for her story over the course of A Hat Full of Sky. She struggled with feeling adequate, meaningful, and necessary, and Annagramma 100% NEVER HELPED WITH THIS. She made it worse! Yet Petulia finds courage in this novel, to stand up to her bullies and to believe in herself. So I found it immensely meaningful that she was the first witch to break the awkward silence and tension of the Trials. She demonstrated her skill in front of all those witches. AND ANNAGRAMMA. 

By the time the remainder of the witches go, though, there’s such an unbearable tension, and yet, neither Tiffany nor Granny do anything. The Trials end, and the anticipated display never happens. In doing so, there is now such an undeniable sense of mystery to these two. Some of that comes across as frustration, as we can see in Annagramma. Annagramma is the sort of person who sees power and grasps it without hesitation. She doesn’t value the sort of power that’s delayed, that is restrained, that is part of not acting andnot doing. That’s what I took from her thoughts on the Sheepdog trials, which holds a special value to Tiffany because of what she observed there. It wasn’t really about winning the flashy, expensive prizes. The greatest reward was the respect bestowed upon someone from Granny Aching:

“And what every young shepherd wanted, really wanted, wasn’t some silly cup or belt but to see her take her pipe out of her mouth as he left the arena and quietly say, ‘That’ll do,’ because that meant he was a real shepherd and all the other shepherds would know it, too.”

That’s what Granny Weatherwax gave Tiffany, wasn’t it? Not that Tiffany needed it on a personal level. That was a gesture for others, so that other witches knew that she’d granted a respect and a validity to this young witch. But Tiffany was beyond the need for the gesture because:

You gave me a virtual hat once, Granny Weatherwax, and I thank you for it. But I don’t need it today. Today, I know I’m a witch.

Tiffany has finally accepted it. It’s such a huge moment, y’all!!! She knows the soul and center of witchcraft, and it took her a hell of a journey to get to that point.

And then there’s Jeannie. Her scene is a very short moment at the end of the chapter, but it’s a powerful one. When she sent Rob Anybody after Tiffany so he could fulfill his promise to her, she did so knowing that it was the right thing to do, and it also meant he might not ever come back. That was the risk they both took! So her joy at Rob’s return is threefold:

As a kelda, she would welcome home a warrior. As a wife, she would kiss her husband and scold him for being so long away. As a woman, she thought she would melt with relief, thankfulness, and joy.


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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