Review: The Shepherd’s Crown

cover-shepherd's crownTitle: The Shepherd’s Crown
Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #41/Tiffany Aching #5
Genre: YA Fantasy
Length: Novel
Available: Now



Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.

This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.

As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.

There will be a reckoning . . .


Source: Review copy from Doubleday Children’s (Penguin Random House UK) via NetGalley

As a Discworld fan this was always going to be a difficult book to read, since it is the last, and as a reviewer I knew it would be hard to review because of spoilers. Well, I was spoiled by reviews that promised no spoilers, so I want to say now I’ll do my hardest not to have any spoilers in this review – and if you’re that worried don’t read any reviews! Just buy the book and read it if you’re already a fan. If you’re not a fan, go back to the first Tiffany book (The Wee Free Men) at the very least, or Equal Rites if you want to start at the beginning of the witches (although I think Wyrd Sisters is better and just as good a beginning).

With that out of the way, I did enjoy this final Tiffany book, although I will say it isn’t as good as some of the others. For obvious reasons. In it we see Tiffany growing even further as a witch, taking on new responsibilities, facing old enemies and once more learning just what it is to be a witch of the Chalk. I’ve always liked Tiffany, because she’s smart and she’s practical. As she’s grown older she’s become quietly confident in herself and her abilities and has lost that obnoxious arrogance she first started with. She’s good at what she does and she knows it, and she’s never afraid of doing hard work, no matter how small or overlooked or unglamorous it is. She’s a decent person and an excellent witch – and that is exactly what we get here. She’s just a little older, a little wiser and under even more pressure than ever. I had thought I Shall Wear Midnight was the last Tiffany book, but I can see why this one was written. There is still a little more room for her to grow.

The plot brings back most of the famous – and infamous – witches from previous books, all popping up to give advice or opinions or just to meddle where they can, in fine witch style. But it also brings the Witch tales full circle. Just as Equal Rites started with a girl who wanted to be a wizard, this book finishes it off with a boy who wants to be a witch. Geoffrey was interesting, but I never quite got a feel for his character. He’s calm and he’s nice and he wants everyone to be decent and not to kill things, but he didn’t have much life to him. I did, however, love his goat, Mephistopheles. I will forgive many things for a goat like that, especially if he can use the privy.

Being a Tiffany book there are also plenty of Nac Mac Feegles to go around. I love those Wee Free Men and they get up to as much mischief as ever. It might have been nice to have seen more of Horace, though.

However, although there are touches of traditional Pterry brilliance and the heart, wit and charm remains strong, this book did feel a touch unfinished, and the note at the end explains why. As a story it’s all there, beginning, middle, end, but the depth and detail wasn’t quite right. Which is understandable, considering everything. A few things, especially towards the end, felt more like a quick sketch and the danger never felt quite as overwhelming as the things Tiffany has faced before. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable, it just feels as if the reader needs to apply a little more of their own imaginations to fully flesh it all out. Which, considering all the wonderful tales Pterry has given us over the years, is the least we can do.

It might not be the best Discworld novel, or the most exciting Tiffany book, but I enjoyed it all the same. It’s still fun and funny, with plenty to say about the ordinary lives of ordinary people, and a few things to add about power, responsibility and how and when it should be wielded, not to mention facing up to changing times and learning how to cope when moving on. For me it’s a fitting farewell, to Tiffany, the Witches and Discworld itself, not that it can ever truly be goodbye when there are forty other novels to reread and enjoy and remember with great affection. Much like the great man himself. Thank you, Sir Terry. For everything.

The Shepherd’s Crown is Out Now!
Visit Discworld for more details.


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