Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Off the Bookshelf: THE SHEPHERD'S CROWN, by Terry Pratchett

The world of fantasy and humor and fantasy-humor books suffered a great loss last year when Sir Terry Pratchett died. He was an inspiration to me, and the Discworld books were a revelation that fantasy didn't have to be all angsty and doom-and-gloom-and-we-must-sacrifice-ourselves-to-save-the-world seriousness.

You know?

Discworld was a glorious romp of silliness and insight disguised as snark, and the giggling destruction of sacred cows. If you haven't seen any of the animated or live-action films of several of the Discworld books, DO. An especially wonderful version is "Hog Father," the Discworld take on Christmas, starring Michelle Dockery of Downton Abby fame -- in case you don't recognize her in her white wig, she plays Susan, Death's granddaughter.

THE SHEPHERD'S CROWN is the fourth Tiffany Aching YA fantasy adventure, the 41st Discworld book, and, alas, the final Discworld book.

The grand master of mythical humor and mayhem knew he was dying, and I believe that impacted the story, because it dealt with change and fighting catastrophe and loss -- and saying goodbye to Granny Weatherwax. And yet, like Sir Terry will be through his books, Granny Weatherwax is still there in spirit as Tiffany learns to stand up and lead in the defense of Discworld.

Tiffany is in many aspects still a girl, growing up, trying to find love, trying to figure out her own style, her destiny, her duties, and trying not to let other people shove her into predetermined molds and patterns. When the nasty elves who appeared in previous books find the barriers keeping them out of Discworld have weakened, they attack. They never learn their lessons, do they? Tiffany finds a way to defeat them once again -- and learns some valuable lessons for herself, as well.

I hate saying goodbye to Tiffany and Granny Weatherwax, Ankh Morpork, Nanny Ogg, Lancre, Queen Magret, and all the others ... but they live on in their books, and I can always go back and visit. Still, there's just something incredible about opening a NEW book about your favorite people and places.

Thank you so much, Sir Terry Pratchett. It was a wild and glorious ride.

{PS: The next book on my to-read list is RAISING STEAM, the 40th Discworld book, so technically it comes before SHEPHERD'S CROWN ... but I like Tiffany's stories so I read them out of order. So sue me!}

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