This weekend I finally read Terry Pratchett’s final book, The Shepherd’s Crown. I’d been stalling for a while, which is unusual. For the last 19 years I’ve read each of his books as soon as it was released. I put this one off, though, and told myself it was because I’ve been very busy. That’s true, but I think a part of me just dreaded reading it, knowing that it would mean the end of a series I have enjoyed for such a long time.
I really don’t feel like I can give a good review of this one because nostalgia is coloring my thoughts pretty heavily, but I can at least talk about my impressions.
This final book was part of one of Pratchett’s YA series and dealt with the completion of the coming of age story of Tiffany Aching. Pratchett’s YA books have been something of a love-hate relationship for me. Sometimes they felt a little too precocious. Still, I’ve long loved the strong female characters he wrote, including the witches. As a young witch coming into her own, Tiffany journeys to create herself by finding her strength and forging her own path, which I think carries a strong message. The book also continues the signature humor that I’ve always loved.
I can’t deny that I shed some tears at the death of a character I’ve loved for the nearly two decades (and who I frankly always thought of as too stubborn die – she never had time for such nonsense) and at the hole her death left in her world. I was also teary on reading the afterward, which talked about the ideas Pratchett wasn’t able to share. But while it mentioned that he hadn’t added everything he wanted to in this book and the story did feel a little short, it didn’t feel incomplete. Tiffany, like Granny Weatherwax, decided just to be herself as hard as she could. Instead of finding her place in the world, she made one for herself.
I’m glad I finally read it, and I feel that while some areas could have had more of Pratchett’s usual detail, the story took that particular plot line and its characters where they needed to go in a fitting and satisfying way, incorporating some of the usual humor and elements I’ve always appreciated. But I am also mourning the untimely end of something I’ve indulged in for over half of my life, and that’s pretty bittersweet.