A Fitting Epitaph

I’m sitting here writing this after having just finished devouring Sir PTerry’s last novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. For Reasons, I suspect he knew when he was writing it that it would be the last – even though Death Himself makes his usual appearance (it wouldn’t be a Discworld novel without him), that appearance is in the beginning, but the whole situation and what follows…

Suffice to say that there’s a lot in the book about what people leave as their legacy.

That’s not what it’s about, of course. The surface plot involves Tiffany Aching struggling to find her way through a particularly difficult transition with the “help” of the Mac Feegles (who are their delightful selves, as usual), an elf invasion, and the other unusual suspects. As always with Pratchett, there’s a lot going on under the surface plot and the hilarity (yes, I laughed out loud several times, grinned more than once, and had sudden unexpected issues with dust in my eyes quite often – and sometimes all at once) – in this case a great deal about finding one’s self, being true to one’s self, and what you leave when you die not being precisely what people might expect. Or anything like what people expect, if it comes to that.

Under that – this is Pratchett – there’s the question of what it means to be human.

No doubt the literary wannabe set will sneer at the prose – which is typically Pratchettian, if not quite as polished as he could be before the Embuggerance – and see nothing of value in a book which is probably shelved in the Young Adult section. The more fool them, because the worth of the piece is not in the prettiness of the prose but in the emotions the book makes you feel and the way the characters remain vivid after the last word is read.

In many ways The Shepherd’s Crown is a fitting epitaph for Sir PTerry, a celebration of humanity and humans in full knowledge of our flaws, knowing that there are times when we will rise above those flaws and do and be something magnificent.

It’s with a sense of relief that I add The Shepherd’s Crown to The List, where it will rise or fall according to the views of everyone who contributes.

To Sir PTerry and everyone else who has gone before, may they rest in peace.

10 thoughts on “A Fitting Epitaph

  1. I haven’t read The Shepherd’s Crown yet… but I know what it will be, because pterry didn’t aspire to “new” or “art” or “edgy.” It’ll be the same old stuff – at least three overlapping plot lines, each with a beginning, a middle, an an end; a single overlying plot shell, strange characters who move from the most ordinary of reasons, internal story logic and consistency, and a denoument that leaves most of the characters somehow better than they were before.

  2. Just read *Raising Steam,* and was much pleased. I write SF humor, and Sir PTerry has long been a major inspiration.

    1. I felt “Raising Steam” was okay… but it had a considerably different feel from the other recent Discworld books. Early on I got the idea that it had been an entirely different story that had been re-edited into a Discworld novel.

      Not that there’s anything wrong with that, assuming it’s not just a figment of my imagination.

      1. The last several books definitely had a different feel from the other ones. I know that his daughter was helping him keep on track, as it were, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that had an unintentional effect. I also know that his greatly accelerated Industrial Age in Ankh-Morpork also changed the feel a lot. Snuff and Raising Steam are the two best examples of a shift in feel, though Unseen Academicals also has that slight oddity to it. (UA is a very weak Discworld novel in that there isn’t a whole lot of Why to it. It’s still a lot better than a lot of other books out there, simply because Pratchett didn’t rely on just one thing to make his novels shine.)

  3. Awesome. I just read Wee Free Men for the first time two weeks ago. Hat Full of Sky is sitting on my TBR pile — I’m trying to pace them out, since there won’t be any more when I finish.

    When does the List close? I should try to finish Shepherd’s Crown before it does.

    1. Where is the List? I didn’t bookmark it (stupid me!) and I’d love to see what other people have read this year that I might want to read.

  4. Anyhow, as for the book itself, I agree with Kate Paulk. My reading experience of it was quite similar, almost word for word.Although, I did order my copy from UK, it arrived, and I dared not even look at it at first. Until I did, many days later.

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