Goodbye, Sir Terry. Thank you. You will be missed.
The blurb: A shivering of worlds.
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength.
This is a time of endings and beginnings, old friends and new, a blurring of edges and a shifting of power. Now Tiffany stands between the light and the dark, the good and the bad.
As the fairy horde prepares for invasion, Tiffany must summon all the witches to stand with her. To protect the land. Her land.
There will be a reckoning…
Most importantly: if you’ve never read anything by Terry Pratchett, please don’t start here. This is a book for readers who are familiar with the Discworld and those who are not will find more to be critical about than to like.
I must also admit that I’m completely unable to give an unbiased review of this book. I love Terry Pratchett’s books. I’ve been reading them since I was twelve. I’m a particular fan of the Discworld series which I have read twice. I cried when I heard the news of his death, which is entirely irrational, but there you go. The man was brilliant. No argument. I mean, he used to wear this t-shirt to conferences:
I also cried several times while reading The Shepherd’s Crown: not because the story was particularly sad, but because it means a series many of us hoped would never end really is over.
OK. Back to the book…
This is Terry Pratchett’s last book and, as explained in the Afterword, it was unfinished when he died. There was a beginning, middle and end in place, all the major scenes were written, but he would have gone back and fleshed things out and done a lot of polishing had he had the chance. And this is very clear when reading it. There are several scenes that are little more than characters sitting around having a nice, amusing chat and many others that seem to end far too abruptly.
That said, it’s a good story and, when you consider how ill the author was, it’s remarkably well-told. As in all Terry’s Pratchett’s books, there are several lines which stand out. My favourite was near the beginning:
“But the reward for lots of work seemed to be lots more. If you dug the biggest hole, they just gave you a bigger shovel…”
For me, this quote is typical of the brilliant narrative voice in the Discworld novels. One which is wise, insightful, mocking but never mean.
Overall: we all knew this wouldn’t be Terry Pratchett‘s best book. Even so, all Discworld fans will enjoy it and be grateful he had the time to write it.