The Shepherd’s Crown Fits
by SJ Griffin
This post contains spoilers – leave now if you haven’t read the book. Off you go. To be fair to me, it contains the massive spoiler that has been included in most of the reviews and has induced much precious hand-wringing from the Guardian. Mind you, with them they probably only included it so they could write about including it later. At some point they will write about writing about writing it. Then they’ll be able to write about writing about writing about writing about it. And then someone below the line with say ‘I remember when this used to be a really good newspaper’ and I will nod sagely and then remember that it’s the internet. [Edit – later, they will post something about how he wasn’t any good after all. Appalling. I refuse to link to them.]
I think the spoiler-avoiders have go now, don’t you?
Let us begin.
As you will know, regular reader, I am a huge Terry Pratchett fan. Not very long ago I re-read all the Discworld books in order from The Colour of Magic to Raising Steam. Then I waited, sort of patiently, for The Shepherd’s Crown. In between those two things Terry Pratchett died. In the sense that his physical form ceased to be present on this planet. How anyone can suggest that the man who left forty-plus wonderful stories with us, and is remembered every time someone picks one up, or laughs at a joke, or recalls a character, is dead is beyond me. Still, I know what they mean.
The next paragraph contains a clue to the spoiler. If you are still here, well, that’s your fault. Not mine.
The Shepherd’s Crown was released on the 27th September at midnight. I waited until 7am to download it onto my kindle. What? I need my sleep. I get very moody otherwise. I didn’t dare read it until later though. I got The Fear. There are many types of The Fear but mostly I get The Fear of Disappointment. Then I read ‘For Esmerelda Weatherwax – mind how you go’ and The Fear was all gone.
There’s no point my telling you, gentle reader, whether the time you spend reading The Shepherd’s Crown will be time well spend (of course it will!), no point my extolling to virtues of Terry Pratchett’s writing to you (anyone who wants to write should read the whole Discworld series!) and no point me regurgitating the story to help you make up your mind about non-points one and two (Tiffany saves the Discworld! And learns carpentry!). The point of this is to clear up one thing and one thing only:
Is The Shepherd’s Crown a fitting end to the series?
What? More? OK. I’m not sure if Terry Pratchett knew this would be his last book, I imagine that if I had a similar disease to Alzheimer’s I would worry every book was my last, it can read like that – if you want it to.
There is no way of avoiding the spoiler below. Abort! Abort!
It was impossible, for me, to not see Granny Weatherwax as a stand in for the author in this book. I suppose because, for me, she’s his best character, his proper hero. Closely followed by Sam Vies and Death. And all the other little heroes, like Nutt and Nobby and Rincewind (of course Rincewind). But she’s my favourite. I would like to be like Granny Weatherwax when I grow up (yes, I know I am already grown up) and while I’m waiting I would like to have a Granny Weatherwax to help me grow up (yes, I know still). The huge monument of her dying in this book is for me the best send off for the author, the series, the Discworld. It’s full of poignancy and potency and, most importantly, possibility. A future that doesn’t need anyone’s intervention.
When Tiffany ‘sees’ Granny Aching and Granny Weatherwax walking in the shadows at the edge of the wood on The Chalk I fancied Terry and that hat were walking along behind them.
I suppose that’s the wonder of a really good book – it’s that it seems to make no difference that we never met the author, that they don’t know the first thing about us, they still manage to come up with something that can show us, bright and clear, what we want to see. What fits.