Aching Loss

Terry Pratchett fans will understand the ‘pune or play on words’ in the title of this post. The Shepherd’s Crown which came out on 27th August this year is the fifth Tiffany Aching book written by Sir Terry, and the very last Discworld book. So we read it with a huge sense of loss hanging over us. In the last twenty or so years, TP has unfailingly provided his readers an annual passage to a new Discworld adventure and the lack of one from next year onwards will leave a gap in our reading list.

We are however not grumbling that Sir Terry’s daughter Rihanna has categorically said that there will be no attempts by anyone else to write new Discworld novels. We definitely agree that some things are best left alone. We have more than enough books to re-read and enjoy their rollercoaster ride and sheer nuttiness.

Without giving too much away, there are other losses in The Shepherd’s Crown which almost feel personal. Having become acquainted with the characters over the years there is a readers’ investment in them.

PS: I loved the fact that he dedicated the book to Esme Weatherwax, one of the most important figures in the Discworld universe. I wonder how many writers have dedicated books to characters they have written.
LL: The writer is bound to have a strong emotional investment in his own characters and some of them just come to life in a very real way. Obviously there was an element of favouritism when it came to Granny Weatherwax.
PS: (Spoiler Alert) And more than any of the others, Sir Terry probably did not want to leave any possibility of any one ever interfering with her.
LL: Obviously the book needed more time and work because the usual flair is not there but since all the elements of the story are in place, it is a good thing that it was published. It really feels like a farewell book because it gives a sense of what all the usual characters are doing with their lives even though they may not be directly linked to the story.
PS: Also, I believe, it is a book that comes a full circle. The first witches book, Equal Rites, was about a girl wanting to become a wizard and in The Shepherd’s Crown we have Geoffrey who wants to become a witch.
LL: It also reiterates, TP’s antipathy to elves which is unusual in fantasy writers who generally glorify them.
PS: But more than anything it is a Tiffany Aching book and part of her growing curve. She started off in The Wee Free Men as a nine year old who defeats the Queen of the fairies with a frying pan and in the fifth book is acknowledged as one of the most powerful witches on Discworld.
LL: And of course no Tiffany book is complete without the constant presence of the Feegles, those atrocious little, blue, swearing, drinking and stealing men.

As far as we are concerned, we’ll never be ‘offski’ from the Discworld.


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