The Shepherd's Crown
Tuesday, Oct 13, 2015
As he does for everyone in the end, Death has come for Granny Weatherwax. The finest leader the witches never had, indisputably first amongst equals, Granny bequeaths her legacy to young Tiffany Aching. Tiffany struggles to do the job in front of her when she has to manage her own steading, Granny's steading, train a new apprentice (and never before has a boy wanted to be a witch!), and stop the elven incursion into her world. Not to mention reining in the Nac Mac Feegle clan. Crivens!
I gave this four stars for lack of ease for new readers. Even if you've read all of the Tiffany Aching series, you'll still be overwhelmed with references to previous Discworld novels. If you can skim over those mentions of people and places outside your experience, however, you're golden (and in for a treat if you go back through to learn the references and then reread this one).
Things of joy and heartbreak: lots and lots of mentions of old favorite characters, redemption of the most unlikely kind, lack of pat endings, challenging of gender norms, challenging romantic narratives, the Nac Mac Feegle, and the always-and-forever emphasis on people being people, no matter what.
When I finished this book, I silently hugged it to my chest for a few minutes. It was a heart-wrenching farewell, the last book by a great modern satirist who was unfailingly empathetic while simultaneously unflinching in his critiques of humanity. The Shepherd's Crown is a fine crown to a long history, and I'm deeply grieved by his loss and comforted by the knowledge that, like Granny Weatherwax, Sir Pterry made the world a better place for having lived in it. Discworld will always live on in our hearts and minds, and we'll do the job in front of us, knowing that people aren't perfect, but they're ours and we'll treasure them forever.