Ramblings: my thoughts and a (brief) review of the Shepherds’ Crown.

For my next blog post I’m going to try something new- I’m going to review a book. I think I’ll be doing this more frequently in the coming months, and I plan on reviewing several works by other self-published authors, but I’m going to start with the last Discworld novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. Now, I’m sure no introduction is needed for Terry Pratchett, the author of this remarkable series, except to say that I am a fan and that you should be too. And if you’re not then you need to go out and read his incredible back catalogue. It is seriously brilliant.

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As I’m also sure most people are aware, Mr. Pratchett died back in March after suffering from Alzheimers disease for many years. And I, like many people out there, was very moved by the news of his death. I learned about his passing through the medium of Twitter, having joined a short time before, and this was a novel experience for me. I saw reactions from many people whom I follow and respect as the news filtered around the network and I was genuinely moved, as were many, by this unfortunate news. I’m not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears that day and, for the first time, I understood a little about what Twitter can do to help spread information and to create a shared experience.

Now, for anyone who’s read my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ or seen any of the excerpts that I post on Twitter, it is not hard to tell that I’m a big fan of Mr. Pratchett’s. I’ve been reading the Discworld novels for a very long time and, like many of his fans, I have read each and every one. The series is not without its ups and downs and some of the novels are, in my opinion, not that good (I’m looking at you, Monstrous Regiment!). But they are the exceptions and not the rule and the quality of the series in its entirety is very impressive. So, without any further ado, here is my (brief) review.

In short, I loved this novel, which I guess is unsurprising. It begins with a dramatic event which I am now going to describe so if you don’t want to know what it is then I suggest you stop reading. Seriously, I’m going to talk about it so don’t keep reading! So, the book begins with the death of Granny Weatherwax, one of the longest standing Discworld characters. Now, I knew this was going to happen because I had it spoiled for me by another review, but it happens so early in the book that it is not really a spoiler to say that it occurs. Her death is told with remarkable grace and care and I was very moved by its handling and by the reactions to her passing from the other characters. It is beautifully written with brilliant character work that is absolutely heartbreaking but then I would have expected nothing less.

Now, I do not wish to spoil the rest of the book so I’m not going to explain much more about the story, merely tease it. What I will say is that we follow Tiffany Aching as she becomes the ‘head witch’, not that witches have leaders as such, and then as she deals with the ups and downs of trying to do far too much. And the glorious Nac Mac Feegles are there causing mayhem as usual. Then Tiffany tangles with the dark elves that featured in her previous books and that is as much as I will say. As expected the book is filled with the typical Pratchett wit and humanity and I enjoyed the story and the themes that it explores including responsibility and how you deal with your enemies. Also unsurprisingly, I thoroughly recommend that you read it. I also can’t help but speculate as to whether Mr. Pratchett was preparing his readers for his impending death with the death of Granny Weatherwax. I don’t know when this book was finished but it was reported that there were other books in preparation when he died so maybe I am wrong. The way the death is handled makes me wonder, and I might be reading too much into it, but that is what occurred to me as I read it.

Now, it was known for some time that Mr. Pratchett was unwell and that this series would not continue forever but it was still heartbreaking to finish the final Discworld novel and to read the words ‘The End’ one last time. And unless someone else is given permission to continue his legacy I suspect that this book really is the last one. Besides his daughter, or maybe Neil Gaiman, I have no idea who else would dare to touch this incredible series and the uproar from fans should it fail to meet expectations, as it surely would, would be considerable. It is likely best left as it is, an incredible series and a remarkable legacy of one of our finest writers. And now I have only one more thing to say: Mr. Pratchett, you will be missed.

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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