There is always a rise in my expectations when I pick up a new Discworld novel. Terry Pratchett has published forty Discworld novels before this one. Unfortunately, this is the last Discworld novel, due to Sir Terry’s death. Terry Pratchett will not be forgotten, and now time for the review.
The Shepherd’s Crown is the fifth novel in the Tiffany Aching story arc in the Discworld series. Tiffany Aching is now a young adult and a witch of the chalk. In this novel, Tiffany ends up becoming the new unofficial head witch, which is not an easy job as the witches are always arguing with each other. However, all is not well as the elves, once again, are planning to cause havoc once again, and it is up to Tiffany, with the help of the other witches and the Nac Mac Feegle, to help save the day.
This book is special because, like the previous Tiffany Aching book, it explicitly describes witches and women who help in the local villages by carrying out tasks like cutting peoples toenails, delivering babies and simply being there for people in need. Tiffany is still young in this book but has the wisdom of a woman who has a lot of life experience, which is a big reason why Granny Weatherwax respects Tiffany a lot. Pratchett’s strength in not only his wit but his development of characters. Tiffany’s character has matured as the Tiffany Aching story arc has progressed.
Another strong point of the novel is the use of elves as villains. Yes, it is true that Pratchett has used the elves in Discworld novels before this one, but in this book the selfishness of the elves helps show the beauty of humanity and how even the simplest things can make us happy. Geoffrey, a new character introduced in this book, does not want to be like his wealthy father, who enjoys hunting for sport. Geoffrey wants to go to Lancre, with his intelligent goat, to be the male equivalent of a witch. He has a desire to help people and keep the peace.
As always, the Nac Mac Feegle provides a lot of the comedy, and overall this book is funny and intelligent. However, the only negative is that the book was slightly too short. Sadly, due to Terry Pratchett’s death, he was unable to polish the book fully to make it more complete. It is not quite as good as I Shall Wear Midnight, but this book is very nearly a masterpiece. Like traditional fairy tales, there is a deeper and important message concealed within the story.
It is unfortunate that this is the last Discworld novel, but on the bright side, there are plenty of Discworld novels to reread. Reading is fun, and Pratchett’s work is the perfect example of stories that are both thought-provoking and funny.