Review of The Shepherd’s Crown

A novel by Sir Terry Pratchett

Published in 2015, Available at Amazon

Eleven years ago, when I had only three granddaughters, I was looking for a work of fiction for them to read that featured a good female protagonist. I found this gem of a book, A Hatful of Sky, my introduction to Discworld. Since then I have wended my disorganized way through about half of these amazing books and added another granddaughter. I also have four grandsons. I have recommended these books to all of my extended family on an Equal Rites (pun intended) basis. I was saddened when I learned of Sir Terry’s battle with dementia.

Since that time, I have lost my mother-in-law to dementia — a very long goodbye. To those who criticize reviewers who respond to The Shepherd’s Crown on an emotional level, I cry Crivens! While there should be a measure of objectivity in any review, to completely abandon feelings is to divorce oneself from one of the greatest joys in reading. Novels are here for one reason, to put the reader through an emotional experience. For pure social commentary go and read some non-fiction.

Pratchett has provided emotional experiences in all of his Discworld books. He has also provided much more in the form of social commentary, acerbic wit, colorful language, and well-rendered characters. He has been rightly compared to Lewis Carroll, Jonathan Swift, and Mark Twain — older soldiers in the fantasy field — all of whose works mix emotional appeal and social commentary with consummate skill. Most of us need the entertainment factor to make the rest of a book not only palatable but enjoyable.

The book is a great read about a young witch, Tiffany Aching, coming into her own power. Tiffany was also the protagonist in A Hatful of Sky, so it is fitting that I write this review as a goodbye to Sir Terry. As Granny Weatherwax passes into death — a Discworld-shaking event — she passes the baton to Tiffany, along with her cottage, and her steading. There is a strong temptation for Tiffany to put on Granny’s boots, which were left behind at the cottage. Indeed, Tiffany’s own boots are figured in this book from the first chapter. “Like any sensible witch, she wore strong boots that could march through anything — good, sensible boots.” She must walk her way through the coming trials ahead in her own boots, proving to herself she is a witch in her own right, and not any shadow of Granny Weatherwax.

It has been said that The Shepherd’s Crown was written by Sir Terry as his eulogy. If so, it is no fault. How many of us get to say to the world what we would have them remember of us? As Granny Weatherwax would have said, “He left the world a better place for his passing through it.” Even Mr. Death was saddened by Granny’s passing in this book. I join Mr. Death in sadness at both Granny’s and Sir Terry’s passing. We have all lost a good soul, but we have in Discworld his ‘steading,’ left behind for all of us to inhabit.

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