In One Word

In One Word, The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett is…

shepherd's crown

  • First published in 2015 by Doubleday Childrens
  • Format: Paperback – Published in 2016 by Corgi
  • Reading Time: 2 heart-breaking days

Poignant

  • Probably guessed by now that this was going to be my final Turtle Recall book. It only seemed fitting to save Pratchett’s last book until the end of the challenge and I’m glad I put in the effort to finish this before the year was over. Tiffany Aching’s story ends and begins again in this book. The unexpected loss of a major figure in her life leaves Tiffany with a much heavier weight of responsibility than usual. Her biggest trial, however, is an old evil she and her fellow witches faced many years ago. They see their opportunity to rise again but what they didn’t count on what Tiffany and all the friends she’s made during her witch training.
  • Offering comparisons between the big catalyst at the start of the book and real life events feel unavoidable but that wasn’t why it got me emotional. The description of the funeral, the news spreading all over the Disc and, finally, how Tiffany dealt with her grief was very well done. It tugged at your heartstrings without it ever feeling manipulative. It showed that it is possible to move on after something so unthinkable happens but it also acknowledges that you need to put time aside to feel grief and to surround yourself with comforting people and settings in a time of trouble. It also did a good job of showing how easy it is to compare yourself unfavourably to people around you and to try in vain to fill the boots of someone else rather than stand tall in your own better-fitting boots.
  • Interspersed in the narrative are the ideas that change can be good, that those who don’t accept change end up left behind in the past and that anyone can change for the better. Even elves that have previously been nothing but a thorn in the Witches’ collective side. The book could have explored that theme more if it had the chance but what it did show (misunderstandings, other people unwilling to give their former enemies a chance, etc) was pretty well done. The outcome was very satisfying too.
  • Getting in one last interesting new character in the form of Geoffrey Swivel, the third son of a classic bully-boy country lord, whose pacifist and academic nature put him at odds so much with his father that he ran away to become a witch. He’s a reverse Eskerina Smith from Equal Rites but he has a much easier time of it. Perhaps, a bit too easy. If Pratchett had the chance, I’m sure he would have put more struggles in his way. He gets a very good moment at the end, though, and he’s a nice enough character so I’m not complaining too much.
  • Need to have read at least all of the Tiffany Aching books before going in. You’ll appreciate more of the references and continuity nods to the other books. A passing familiarity with classic British comedy will also help you pick up a subtle reference to a famous Monty Python sketch.
  • A bit lacking in polish in some places and it’s understandable why that is. The afterword makes it clear that, even though it has a beginning, middle and end, this isn’t what Pratchett would call a complete story. He didn’t get the chance to really complete it to his satisfaction before his death. For what it is, it’s a great story that kept a good pace going and never failed to keep my interest but there’s a pervading feeling of missed potential throughout. There could have been a lot more laughs and a lot more work done on the conflict with Mrs Earwig. Her character development did feel a little rushed. It’s a shame that Pratchett didn’t get the chance to flesh it out more. I know it would have been fantastic.
  • Not a lot of opportunities for additional world building but it does a good job of showing a Discworld very different from the one in The Colour of Magic. The world that has gone through some dramatic changes in technology and in attitudes. So much so that more change is practically seen as par for the course and that anyone coming into the world after a long absence would be very disorientated indeed. The little new bits we did get were pretty good, though. The Predictive Pines, though only appearing in one scene, got my attention in particular. The Shepherd’s Crown itself is an object one wouldn’t normally associate with such a grand name but that is it’s actual name in real life. It also turns out to be much more than meets the eye and the revelation was well worth the wait.
  • The climax was one of the most exhilarating of the whole series. The build up of everyone being drawn together to fight a common foe was fantastic and the way Tiffany brings in her final ally was nicely unexpected too. Who would have thought a shed could be so useful? I could easily see it translating into a film or TV adaptation, it was that cinematic. The epilogue afterwards felt like the perfect way to round off the series. There might never be any more Discworld books but the series was left in a good place and this is a great place to end my Turtle Recall experience.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

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