Released: August 2015
This is the fifth Discworld novel featuring the young witch Tiffany Aching. Tiffany has always had to meet a few challenges in her stories and this time there’s no exception. Granny Weatherwax has nominated Tiffany to take over which doesn’t bide well with all the witches in Discworld. Not only that but the faeries in the Underworld are stirring, sensing the unease and an opportunity to come back and make mischief. Help is at hand for Tiffany in the form of Granny Weatherwax’s cat, You, and a young apprentice Geoffrey and his goat Mephistopheles, but that may not be enough.
Like all the Discworld novels, The Shepherd’s Crown is full of fun, wit and mischief, and nods to the old ways as well as the future. The novel seems to have a rather nostalgic feel to it but maybe that’s my interpretation of it, knowing that it will be one of the last Terry Pratchett books to be published. He wrote voraciously in his last few years but he still left plenty of unfinished ideas behind which someone may feel brave enough to try and embroider upon.
Terry is a hard act to follow though. Not just because his ideas are so well thought through. And not just because his foot notes are always such amusing little asides, distracting from the main event and making a small joke in the middle of a paragraph, but because of his characterisation. For me there can be no story without fully rounded characters with convincing names who speak with conviction in realistic voices. Terry’s work always holds these qualities in spades but it’s particularly evident in this novel; from the bored retired men with nothing to do, to the overworked witches, the feisty Feegles and the wicked Faeries.
There isn’t the high drama that is present in some of the other novels to keep the pace going. In fact it stopped short of ever getting really exciting and seemed more of a tying up of loose ends. Most of the conflict is provided by the evil faeries – who are managing to sneak in the back door while no one is looking and causing all kinds of problems – but there are times when you even manage to feel sorry for them. However, there’s a keen interest in the characters and a will for them to succeed. I had a tear in my eye several times whilst I read this book. So, even if you’re not normally a TP fan, I would urge you to give this book a go because the writing is charming and the characters are just delightful.