The Shepherd's Crown
April 19, 2016 4:30 PM - by Terry Pratchett - Subscribe

Terry Pratchett's final Discworld novel, and the fifth to feature the witch Tiffany Aching... You've read it, you have feelings, let's talk!

Meta about this post: This is another FanFare Books "alpha" post. I still have the ability to post books posts because of when I was doing the Apocalypse Book Club, and I ran the idea by the mods of posting this book. Hoping since Pratchett is such a mefi fave that there will be some interest. So let's see if folks want to talk Pratchett, Discworld, Tiffany Aching, and how this feels as a last book. Go!
posted by latkes (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So I'm of mixed feelings about Pratchett. His books are so affirming and relaxing to read, better than therapy or TV for me. On the other hand, they often sort of fall apart in the middle for me. Plot lines sort of peter out and big build ups don't have satisfying conclusions. So I like him a lot, but I'm not super fan.

Of the Tiffany Aching books, I only read the first and the last. They both have the things I like best in Pratchett: feminism, witches, gender subversion, the Cycle of Life, laughs, compassion, and a big fight of good vs evil where evil is also complicated.

This one in particular holds together well for me as a story and checks all my boxes. It's a nice full circle that he's questioning masculine gender roles in this one - we can't really have a just, healthy society until boys can be vulnerable and healers too.

And as always I'm impressed with the compassion he showed the bad guys. Even fairies can be rehabilitated.
posted by latkes at 4:39 PM on April 19, 2016

(I mean elves!)
posted by latkes at 4:43 PM on April 19, 2016


posted by poffin boffin at 7:11 PM on April 19, 2016

posted by poffin boffin at 7:12 PM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]

I've avoided it because bad late Pratchett is too sad-making - am I right in thinking this one is basically okay as a book (i.e. unlike Snuff and Raising Steam), and terribly affecting in its characters/incidents?
posted by Sebmojo at 7:15 PM on April 19, 2016

Sebmojo: the plot is kicked off by the death of someone who lived a long and full life and has a good peaceful death. It is a touching book, but you will probably be okay by the end of it. It's not going to put you through a wringer unless you keep thinking THIS IS THE LAST DISCWORLD BOOK OMGOMG all the time.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:11 PM on April 19, 2016

Absolutely, 100% ugly crying.

Pratchett is one of my favorite authors, if not my most favorite author. And I was so happy that we got to spend time with the witches one last time. Granny Weatherwax is my absolute favorite character and she resonates deeply with my inner-self. She's flawed and fierce and I LOVE EVERY BIT OF IT.

So, to say goodbye to her and Pratchett in one book? Devastating.

And I can't help but feel he was writing his own death in Granny's. One last goodbye. The way he writes about death (as well as DEATH) is so....I don't know of another author or book or film, etc., that has impacted my feeling about death as much. Not that death isn't still scary or tragic...but that it doesn't always have to be. It can be done with dignity and it can (especially when one is a witch) be prepared for. We won't all have the advanced warning to scrub our cottages, but we can do the hard work of thinking about how we want to live our lives and the kind of legacy we want to leave behind. And decide who will take care of our cats.

But, even as dear as I hold Pratchett in my heart, the rest of the book was not great. It was okay. It was decent. It had the bones of being great- it just needed more time, more drafts, and more editing.

I don't hold that against the book, on the contrary, I'm just so grateful I got to wander the Discworld one more time.
posted by Bibliogeek at 2:48 AM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

I stand by my thoughts from the thread on the blue when this came out.

A summary of that comment:
I remain devastated by the loss of Pratchett. Shepherd's Crown feels unfinished, unpolished, but was enjoyable nevertheless. I think I Shall Wear Midnight is still the best Tiffany book but I'm also glad that Pratchett was suspicious enough about happily ever afters to show us that Tiffany's life continues to be challenging and complicated and will remain so.
posted by Wretch729 at 7:23 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

I definitely think that he has Granny Weatherwax as his stand in here, which actually was a tiny bit like, egotistical? But then he is so beloved I'm glad he gave himself a death story that we readers could get some meaning and satisfaction from. Also he's awesome for making an old lady his symbolic stand in. Most male writers would be picturing themselves the heroic young dude dying valiantly in an action scene.
posted by latkes at 8:23 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

More meta on Pratchett posts:
FYI guys there is a book group (SSFF) which will be covering more Pratchett soon.
I'd like to tag this as part of the club if I may (I don't know the etiquette). also latkes, would you want to do more Pratchett book posts? If so I'd happily cede the SSFF Pratchett posts to you.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 9:14 AM on April 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh cool, sorry I missed that! No, I think I was just doing a single post. Glad you'll be doing more in this vein!
posted by latkes at 9:32 AM on April 20, 2016

Of the Tiffany Aching books, I only read the first and the last.

Latkes, in my opinion you've read the two worst Tiffany Aching books. I thought each one was better than the previous, until this one (which, as other have said, struck me as needing a few more drafts, but was still sad and affecting for being the last Pratchett book).
posted by johnofjack at 2:20 PM on April 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

OK - I haven't read any of the comments yet because I'm in the middle of Wintersmith and I figure I'll be done with the other two by the end of the week. So, I guess I'm foreshadowing my appearance in this thread and just generally being glad that it's here.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:47 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was fine all through the book, and actually feeling pretty good at the end. I'd expected it to be a very tough read -- because it's the last book, and because I was expecting his ingenuity and style to have declined even further than the previous few books -- but was pleasantly surprised. It's not Pratchett at his peak, but it's much closer to the voice I'm used to than he had been for while. And it was a really touching but ultimately optimistic goodbye to the Discworld and its characters, many of whom have been in my life since my early teens.

...and then I turned to the Author's Bio on the inside flap of the dust jacket, and saw that it referred to him in the past tense. That hit me hard.
posted by metaBugs at 8:12 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Hello from the future! Just got through the Tiffany Aching books, and have to agree whole-heartedly with Wretch729. This is a fine send-off for the series and for Pratchett, considering that he didn't have a chance to do the final drafts, etc. that ideally he could have if he'd had more time.* The stuff with Geoffrey is nice, Granny's loss is appropriately devastating , and the way it's shown through the news filtering out to everywhere on the Disc is beautifully done. And even Elves are potentially redeemable, though it's a tough uphill battle... well-played.

Still, I Shall Wear Midnight is, for me, the true tour-de-force of the Tiffany Aching books. The one that can hit you right in the gut with its darkness and realness, be genuinely scary and upsetting, but not lose the characters or the fun that makes the series (or Discworld in general) so great. The themes of recognizing what must be accepted and moving on (in the case of Roland's engagement) and recognizing what must not be accepted and doing something about it (in the case of the Rough Music, etc.) is not just correct for a YA novel, but perfect for who Tiffany is and will become. So ISWM is the ultimate Tiffany book for me, but I'm glad this one exists.

*I'm particularly thinking here of the cat, You. Neil Gaiman says that Terry had planned to write an epilog that made it clear that Granny had shifted her consciousness into the cat and would leave with Death on her own terms. As it is, that's largely implied through the narrative and maybe didn't need to be spelled out, but it shows that there was stuff meant for this story that he just didn't get around to, which is sad.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:17 AM on February 1, 2023 [1 favorite]

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