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The Shepherd's Crown - Book Review

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by Douglas Sutherland-Bruce (subscribe)
Douglas has been a professional food writer since 1986. He is also an award-winning actor and director in Community Theatre and has been for many years. His blog may be found at:
Published January 6th 2016
I go to bed aching and I wake up aching
Sir Terrence 'Terry' Pratchett died in March of this year, leaving behind him a rich legacy of more than forty fantasy books and the incomparable creation of the Discworld - a flat disc supported on the backs of four elephants (originally five) standing on a great space turtle - A'tuin.

With the creation of the Discworld, world and mirror of worlds, Pratchett gave himself a rich literary field where he could play and gambol through the vast playground of his mind, and more importantly, invite us to join him.

Most writers, if they are lucky, create perhaps three or four great characters. Characters that live and breathe, that inspire, irritate, engage and are loved as close friends.

Pratchett created an entire pantheon - Sam Vimes, Death, Nanny Ogg, Mort, Lady Sybill Ramkin, Mustrum Ridcully, Carrot, the Patrician, William de Worde, Lord Rust, Gaspode the Wonder Dog (give him a sausage) the Nac Mac Feegle, Magrat, Pteppic, Moist van Lipwig, Albert, Agnes Nitt, Tiffany Aching and, possibly the greatest of them all - Granny Weatherwax.

Granny Weatherwax was the embodiment of every granny, every wise woman, every superhero - a witch who knew when not to use magic, a believer in Equal Rites for women, giving people what they needed rather than what they wanted and the epitome of duty, pride and service.

She was mentor to Tiffany, the Chalk Witch, and an example to all - both on and off the Disc.

Many, many people die on the Discworld - Death, as in the Round World, is the only constant, the only character that appears in every book and who comes for us all in the end.

In The Shepherd's Crown, he comes for Granny Weatherwax. He comes without fanfare, without sentimentality, expected and almost welcome.

Nevertheless, no fan of the books can read this section without weeping, not for her, but for our loss, much as we wept at the news of Pratchett's own death.

Pratchett knew he was dying as he wrote The Shepherd's Crown and while the parallels are clear, so is the message - life goes on. Things happen afterwards, lives are lived and the world continues to spin.

Dispassionately, while the plot is the equal of anything Prachett wrote (Tiffany inherits Granny's steading and fights the Elf Queen we met in Lords and Ladies) but the gloss is less than we are used to.

Manuscripts had notoriously to be torn from Pratchett's hands to send to the printers as he honed a passage here, sharpened a phrase there, and this book suffers from a lack of his obsessive polishing, but it is a book we could not be without.

The last word must, as always, go to Nanny Ogg:
'... people die; and if they manages to die after a long time, leavin' the world better than they went an' found it, well then, that's surely a reason to be happy. All the rest of it is just tidyin' up.'

She is speaking of Granny's passing, but it could be any reader speaking of Pterry, as he was affectionately known to his

Very Highly Recommended.

Mind how you go, Terry and Esmé.

Terry Pratchett, Discworld, Tiffany Aching, Granny Weatherwax
Sir Terry (Photograph courtesy
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Why? Pterry's last hurrah!
Cost: RRP $45
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