The Shepherd’s Crown is the 41st book in the Discworld series and the 5th Tiffany Aching novel and therefore this review may contain spoilers for the previous books.
I’ve finally made myself read The Shepherd’s Crown, Sir Terry Pratchett’s final book. It’s hard to separate that knowledge from the story especially as Granny Weatherwax meets Death for the last time. As the characters say goodbye to Granny, it feels like Terry was saying goodbye too. I cannot lie, I cried quite a bit.
It was never easy being a witch. Oh, the broomstick was great, but to be a witch you needed to be sensible, so sensible that sometimes it hurt. You dealt with the reality—not what people wanted.
I am not completely done with Discworld, I have not yet read Raising Steam which might have been a mistake as the railways play a key role in this book. However, like with all the books, I’m sure it will be perfectly readable out of order.
Granny Weatherwax’s boots are hard to fill and Tiffany Aching isn’t sure she’s the witch to do it. However the steading was left to her and You the cat appears to have adopted her too. Soon the strain of attending both the Chalk and Lancre gets too much for Tiffany and the elves sense the weakness left by Granny’s absence.
And Tiffany knew that if a witch started thinking of anyone as “just” anything, that would be the first step on a well-worn path that could lead to, oh, to poisoned apples, spinning wheels, and a too-small stove… and to pain, and terror, and horror and the darkness.
Yet the Discworld has changed since the elves last passed over. For iron is everywhere and goblins have rights. And if there’s one things elves can’t stand, it’s iron.
In Discworld the witches were always the practical ones whilst the wizards were a little ridiculous (is it any coincidence that one is called Ridcully?). Terry’s final farewell includes a message of gender equality, with a boy who wishes to be a witch and a female Nac Mac Feegle who doesn’t wish to leave the mound she calls home to be a Kelda elsewhere.
Being a witch is a man’s job: that’s why it needs women to do it.
If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s not the best of his books and it definitely feels a little unfinished or rushed. Which breaks my heart a little. In Rob’s note at the end he does say he thought Terry would have wrote more of it if he could have. There was something Death said to Granny at the beginning that isn’t quite resolved, but if you check out the Wikipedia page for the book, apparently Neil Gaiman shared the answer to this (and it completely makes sense).
Mephistopheles the goat is fantastic and I liked the side story of Geoffrey. It was nice to gather all the witches together again too, I just wanted a little bit more and sadly Death chose to collect Terry before it was all there.
Rob fulfilled his promise to Terry at the Dorset Steam Fair this year, crushing the hard drive containing any unfinished work and Rhianna Pratchett has confirmed there will be no further works. At least he left us with an awful lot of books to re-read, and what fantastical and funny books they are.
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Book Source: Purchased
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