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.