Series Title: Discworld, book 41/ Tiffany Aching book 5
Published: 27th August 2015 Doubleday
Source: owned, audiobook, hardback
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
The Set Up:
Tiffany Aching has really grown into her role as witch of the chalk. True she doesn't see Preston as much as she would like but then she is just as focused on her job as he is on becoming a doctor. And sometimes it troubles Tiffany that people think she should be settling down and having children because really she hasn't got time for that just yet and anyway there's nothing wrong with waiting a few years. And then Tiffany feels a shift in the world, she feels it through her boots. A great change in the world of witches has come about and Tiffany is going to find herself spearheading the way of the witch into the future (so she really hasn't got time for marriage just yet thank you). The shift also disturbs and awakens other creatures. The Lords and Ladies of fairyland have missed carousing through the human realm for sport and now it looks as if there is nothing to stop them. It's going to take all the witches of Lancre, a boy called Geoffrey and a goat called Mephistophiles to stop them...maybe...
I don't think any Pratchett fan will go into this book devoid of emotional attachment and I'm pretty sure that the fact that this is the last ever disc world book will colour my review. That said, what a high note to go out on! This pulls together many of the loose discworld threads and delivers a very satisfying conclusion. In the same way that Raising Steam pulled together a lot of threads from the city/ grand folk side of things, The Shepherd's Crown looks at the smaller but no less important lives of the country folk. Seeing discworld for the last time through the eyes of the witches was the perfect way to go. As well as being a thumping good read, this also gently prods us to look Death in his kindly skeletal face and accept him as part of life, to examine the necessity of being kind as much as you can, of respecting each other and helping each other. Of trying to reach accord with enemies with whom you think you have nothing in common, that you have demonised because they have done monstrous things. Not that this book lectures - like the witches it teaches by example.Tiffany is an excellent character to close on. She's grown up and feels the full weight of her responsibility now. She is unsure of herself and whether she can fill the gap left behind by the death of another character. It is the uncannily accurate portrayal of a young person really committing themselves to the life they have chosen that makes this even more poignant. And of course there are laughs aplenty too because life is afterall very funny, even in its tragic moments. I know everyone has their own Discworld access book - the one that got them in - and their own discworld peak book - after which the writing couldn't get any better, although some feel it suffered. I really became a fan comparatively late. I haven't yet read all the books (maybe 20 or so) and perhaps Pratchett wrote better than this, but I doubt he wrote more wisely. I realise that parts of this book have had the help of the editorial team because he simply couldn't finish it as much as he wanted, and we are told this frankly. I still think this is one of the best books of Pratchett's I've read. Somehow all the themes I most loved came together here. Highly recommend this whether you are a Pratchett fan or not.