Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 872
Farewell, Tiffany Aching
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
It is difficult to know whether the gloomy mood I felt while reading The Shepherd’s Crown was due to the book itself or to the fact that the fifth Tiffany Aching novel (and forty-first Discworld novel) was in fact the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s final work.

The Shepherd’s Crown focuses on the young witch Tiffany Aching as she comes fully to find her place both in the non-hierarchy of the witches’ world, in the land of her birth (the Chalk), and in her own life. She finds herself pulled between two steadings, the districts for which, as a witch, she is responsible for doing “what needs to be done” — whether visiting the old and sick, birthing babies, or protecting the inhabitants from supernatural invasion. And, as the book begins, a supernatural invasion does in fact loom: Nightshade, Queen of the Faeries (whom a nine-year-old Tiffany defeated in the first book in the series) finds that the boundaries between her world and Tiffany’s are weak, and she is planning large-scale revenge. Discworld faeries have much more kinship to the Celtic sidhe than to the cute winged creatures of most children’s books or than to Tolkien’s aristocratic elves: they are (literally) glamorous, pitiless creatures who take delight in mayhem ranging from spoiling beer and stealing sheep to kidnap, torture, and murder.


Much of The Shepherd’s Crown centers on Tiffany and her allies (the other witches, the six-inch-tall Nac Mac Feegle) preparing for and ultimately dealing with the elvish incursion.

The characters were always the strong suit of Pratchett’s novels — that and the wild humor. Throughout, we meet up of some of the most memorable characters from the previous forty Discworld novels, particularly the women — Eskarina Smith, Agnes Nitt, Queen Magrat, Nanny Ogg, and of course the indomitable Granny Weatherwax.

In fact, Granny Weatherwax has what I found to be the most memorable scene in the book, a somber, quiet passage that set the tone for the whole novel.

At the same time, we meet a few new characters, most notably a young pacifist named Geoffrey Swivel and his goat Mephistopheles. As Eskarina Smith wished to become the first female wizard in Equal Rites (one of the earliest Discworld books), so Geoffrey decides to become the first male witch, and turns to Tiffany for tutelage.

Most of Pratchett’s writing was notable for its biting satire and wild humor. While there is definitely humor in The Shepherd’s Crown, it feels very subdued. Nanny Ogg and the Nac Mac Feegle crack jokes, but there’s a whistling-in-the-graveyard feel to them. Even the author’s notoriously random footnotes feel more wistful than riotously funny.

There’s one other thing that sets The Shepherd’s Crown apart from Pratchett’s other books. Riotous could well describe the plotting in the earlier volumes in the Discworld series; some of them felt like improvised affairs, held together by brilliantly funny prose, wonderful characters, and fascinating explorations of social themes. In the last decade-plus of his life, the author seemed to be wrestling the chaos of his plots into submission. The plotting in the first four Tiffany Aching books, for example, is tight and well-paced while continuing to be surprising — a masterful balance of Aristotle’s formula that the perfect plot lead to an ending that is both inevitable but unexpected.

In his final novel, there’s much less of the unexpected. Events unroll in a satisfying manner, but rarely do they surprise.

This leaves me to wonder whether Pratchett’s late-found discipline with regard to narrative form might have come as a result of his struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease — that as his memory became less reliable, he was forced to tame his myriad-minded genius for invention. This, however, is probably a pointless speculation, and finally irrelevant.

Pratchett was a brilliant, insightful satirist who happened to turn to fantasy as his medium, but whose novels and stories constantly pushed the reader to re-examine assumptions and prejudices. As such, The Shepherd’s Crown may not have been his crowning achievement, but it is a fitting and satisfying cap on an magnificent career.
Good Points
The characters are, as always in Terry Pratchett books, fabulous. The world he created in the Discworld books is wonderful and rich. This is a very satisfying conclusion to a fabulous YA fantasy series (the Tiffany Aching books).
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

My Love is All Around
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Mommy Bear shows Baby Bear how love is all around...
I'm not a Mouse!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Olivia really doesn't like her nickname - mostly because it...
My Panda Sweater
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The other kids may laugh, but I always feel safe...
One Day on our Blue Planet... In the Outback
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From breakfast to dinner, dusk to dawn, children will love...
Mrs Bibi's Elephant
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming story with a message as big as an...
The State of Us
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
"Dre and Dean have got my vote!"—Adib Khorram, award-winning...
My Calamity Jane
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Welcome to 1876 America, a place bursting with gunslingers,...
Little Creeping Things
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
A compulsively readable debut with a narrator you just...
Fae's Deception (Queens of the Fae Book 1)
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Brea Robinson is a murderer. That’s what everyone tells...
The Forgotten World (The World Apart Series Book 3)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Clark thought he knew what grief was. Addie thought...
Artemis Fowl: Guide to the World of Fairies
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
This beautifully illustrated novel is a compendium of Artemis Fowl's...
The Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Les Misérables meets Six of Crows in this page-turning...

Latest Member Reviews

The Falling in Love Montage
 
5.0
"THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE is a beautiful YA contemporary romance that follows Saoirse (Seer-sha). Saoirse speaks to the reader..."
Crave
 
4.3
"After the death of her parents, Grace comes to an Alaskan boarding school. Once there, she senses something is 'off'..."
You Brought Me the Ocean
 
3.7
"YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN is a graphic novel of the origin story for Aqualad. Jake is 17 and living..."
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
 
2.0
" I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth centers around a..."
Pumpkinheads
 
4.7
"I am pretty new to graphic novels so when I won a copy of 'Pumpkin Heads' on GoodReads I was..."
Burn
 
3.7
"BURN imagines a world that is just like ours, except that dragons exist. Dragons have been around for longer than..."
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed
 
5.0
"WONDER WOMAN: TEMPEST TOSSED is a fantastic new story featuring Diana coming into her own. She has been raised among..."
The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight, #2)
 
5.0
"THE ARCHER AT DAWN is a fantastic sequel in the THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT trilogy. This second book picks up..."
My Calamity Jane
 
5.0
"What worked: This is a fun paranormal twist on historical figures set in the Wild West of 1876. I loved..."
Where Dreams Descend
 
5.0
"FEEDBACK This book was everything I wanted and more. It begins with Kallia and her performance. It quickly descends into..."
The State of Us
 
5.0
"THE STATE OF US is a really fantastic YA contemporary romance that follows the children of two political rivals. Dean's..."
Live Like Legends
 
5.0
"LIVE LIKE LEGENDS is an absolutely fantastic YA fantasy romance. We follow Kalista, who is a princess born to be..."
Blood Countess (Lady Slayers)
 
4.3
"Visually, this book is a gorgeous work of art, splattered with blood from cover to cover. For those familiar with..."
Like Sisters on the Homefront
 
4.7
"Top 3 reasons to read LIKE SISTERS ON THE HOMEFRONT: 1.) The characters- Gayle, a NYC girl sent to..."
Daphne and Velma: The Vanishing Girl
 
3.7
"Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley are opposites. Daphne is popular, traditionally pretty, and sociable. Velma prefers books and information to..."
Felix Ever After
 
5.0
"Felix has never been in love, but he wants to be. He wants the experience of opening your heart, having..."
The Sullivan Sisters
 
5.0
"Eileen, Claire, and Murphy Sullivan used to be close. They had their special traditions, their shared laughs, and their shared..."
The Summer of Impossibilities
 
3.7
"THE SUMMER OF IMPOSSIBILITIES is a YA contemporary about friendship in the vein of THE SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS...."
Tarnished Are the Stars
 
4.3
"FEEDBACK I actually really enjoyed this story. The beginning was a little confusing because there wasn’t too much explanation of..."
The Bitterwine Oath
 
3.3
"San Solano, Texas is not only known for its Southern charm but also gruesome murders that took place fifty..."