‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ – Review

I finally got over my fear of endings (there was about a ten year gap between me reading The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass I’m not messing around here) and I finally read the final Discworld novel and the final Tiffany Aching novel. You can see why I’m struggling a little here. Things are about to get a little mushy. The first Pratchett I ever read was Wintersmith when I was in primary school and obsessed with witches (I still am) and it meant a lot to me, so obviously when I found out the last Pratchett novel to be published was about Tiffany I ran out and bought it as soon as I could. Then I left it to gather dust for a couple years out of fear. Part of me felt like reading The Shepherd’s Crown would entirely end my childhood, despite the fact that it legally ended before the book came out. So I finally read it on my 21st birthday when I felt it was acceptable to really let go. It sounds neurotic and it probably is a little, but I don’t care, my blog is my place to share my book crazy however I wish.

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Hay-on-Wye photo shoot

To get things out of the way I loved this book, obviously I would I’m a huge fan. But loving a book by default doesn’t make for a great review so I’m going to get down to the good stuff. SPOILERS AHEAD.

First of all this is a book about mourning, those who are still avoiding it (as I was) maybe don’t keep reading basically, it starts with Granny Weatherwax dying and Tiffany having to fill her shoes. If there were ever a book from a genre defining writer saying “carry on without me” to his fans I’ve yet to find a better one than this. The plot, mourning aside, took the Tiffany Aching series full circle revisiting the faeries she fought in the first instalment, which (for me) was a lovely return to childhood and was just too wonderfully cyclical to even really process amongst all my happy tears.

Though I loved this novel, because it was brilliant, but as I was reading it something about the prose style felt a little off to me. And it wasn’t until the afterword written by Rob Wilkins that I realised what was off:

“Once it was shaped, he would keep writing it too, adding to it, fixing bits, constantly polishing and adding linking sequences, tossing in just one more footnote or event. His publishers often had to prise the manuscript away from him, as there was always more he felt he could do […] The Shepherd’s Crown has a beginning, a middle and an end, and all the bits in between. Terry wrote all of those. But even so, it was, still, not quite as finished as he would have liked when he died.”

img_2005I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect explanation. The book was perfect, but somewhat lacking in Pratchett’s usual witticisms and personal style. If anything though this made the whole book so much sadder for me. Just the idea that Pratchett didn’t get the chance to brush up this story (even though it was still amazing) to the excellent standards he worked so hard for his whole life.

Basically I’m just here to say I loved The Shepherd’s Crown, I love Terry Pratchett, and I’m still a little upset.

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