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The Shepherd's Crown
by Terry Pratchett
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I enjoyed the entire Tiffany Aching series very much.
Thank you for everything Sir Terry Pratchett.
Terry Pratchett's wonderful last book, and the last in the Tiffany Aching series. There was much to love, but my favorite part had to be Jeffrey's army of old gentlemen ("we happy few, we extremely elderly few").
I laughed, I cried, I cheered. Not to be missed.
But in The Shepherd's Crown, I've come to realize what it is about these books that makes them so special and endeared them so well to Pratchett's own heart: it's their compassion.
But Shepherd's Crown is still recognizably Pratchett, from the giggle-fit-inducing footnotes to the stern moral message about selflessness, empathy and caring for others. And there's just as much of a moral stance in the way the book addresses the death of a longtime pillar of the Discworld: People around the Disc sense that something pivotal has happened. They stop to acknowledge the gravity of the moment. They pay their respects. And then they return to their lives.
Pratchett, with his sardonic inventiveness, social satire, play on language, deep feeling for landscape and love of what is best in human nature, had less critical praise than he deserved. His heroes and heroines are not royalty in disguise, but thieves, con-men, shepherds, soldiers and midwives. In his championing of the ordinary, the sensible and the slightly silly he went against the grain – and never more so than in creating Tiffany Aching.
Above all, though, “The Shepherd’s Crown” — like all of Pratchett’s fiction — stresses the importance of helping others. Beyond this, I think that Pratchett’s farewell advice would be to follow his witches’ sensible principle: “Just do the work you find in front of you and enjoy yourself.”
Nothing in Pratchett stays still and his inventive energy, book after book after book, is astounding. Yet, as I say, the increasing complexity of the characters is accompanied by an increasing likableness as well as interest.
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Terry Pratchett's final Discworld novel, and the fifth to feature the witch Tiffany Aching.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.92Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 2000-
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I find Tiffany Aching is one of the dreariest denizens of the Discworld, so I was a bit disappointed that this final book was centred around her and the Wee Free Men. At the outset, one of the major Discworld characters dies, and Tiffany is called upon to step up. This involves her leaving home on The Chalk, which she is not quite ready to do.
Meanwhile, in Fairyland, restless elves sense a weakness in the barriers to the Discworld, and one of the more belligerent ones overthrows the Queen and commences raids on Lancre and The Chalk. The Queen seeks Tiffany's help, but Tiffany will only offer it if the Queen changes the elves' ways. Tiffany needs to muster all the help that she can get fro ma ragtag group of mostly junior witches to fight off the elves.
Pratchett introduces a new character in Geoffrey the "calm maker" who wants to train as a witch, and his weird goat Mephistopheles. There is also the inscrutable white cat You, who attaches itself to Tiffany. Pratchett seems to suggest that there will be some kind of plot development about one or both of these familiars, but never really goes there. One does get the sense that there are intended plot lines in this book that were never completed.
I didn't really enjoy this book that much, but I could see what Pratchett was trying to do, and why Tiffany had to be the central character. This is a novel about transition: from the older generation to the younger, and from the anarchic magical Discworld of The Colour of Magic to the industrialised world of Raising Steam.
Pratchett's Discworld has had its technological revolution now, and there is little place left for elves and the like, who cannot fit into this new industrial age. It is a fitting conclusion to a series that stands as one of the great achievements in English fantasy fiction. ( )