Thursday, 27 August 2015

The Shepherd's Crown



I've been a fan of Sir Terry Pratchett's writing since his first Discworld book came out.   I've read every one and enjoyed the way his world and his characters grew and matured over the series.   The early books were pastiches and parodies of fantasy tropes, but good as they were he developed past that stage and his novels became far far more than collections of jokes.


His characters were as real as you can get - no mean feat when you bear in mind that they include witches, faeries, vampires, trolls and even some straightforward humans.   Well maybe not straightforward, except for Captain Carrot (and I was developing doubts about him too... he was a deep one, that Carrot, surprisingly shrewd beneath the open honest face).   They were real people to me, and some of them were so achingly wise that I learned a lot about life and the correct response to life from them.

In times of trouble I sometimes toy with the question "What would Granny Weatherwax do?"  And the answer comes back at once  - "I wouldn't be wasting my time asking foolish questions, there's a job to be done, get on and do it."   Sir Terry's characters were rarely soft and fluffy.   As young witch-to-be Tiffany Aching discovered:

“Are you listening?”
“Yes,” said Tiffany.
“Good. Now...if you trust in yourself...”
“Yes?”
“...and believe in your dreams...”
“Yes?”
“...and follow your star...” Miss Tick went on.
“Yes?”
“...you’ll still be beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy. Goodbye.” 
Sir Terry was taken from us all far too early, and with far too many stories untold.   His last completed work was released today.   The Shepherd's Crown is the last ever Discworld book, the last ever chance to spend time in that world for the first time.   It's another Tiffany Aching book and I'm downloading the audiobook version as I type this.

I'm looking forward to reading it as I'm looking forward to my next breath, and I'm dreading it as much as I dread taking my last one.   It marks an end to something that I have loved for most of my life and I have a feeling that I will be both delighted and very sad all at the same time.