Terry Pratchett has been my favourite author ever since I was an awkward teenager, and now as an awkward adult I was heartbroken when he died. The first novel that I ever saw through to completion was the first Discworld book The Colour is Magic, and since finishing that book I’ve had my nose in one ever since.
After Sir Terry’s death I was glad to learn that his final work in the Discworld series, The Shepherd’s Crown, was to be published. I will admit that I put off reading the book for a while, because I knew that it was going to be emotional, and I was right.
Keeping this review as spoiler free as possible I will say that by the end of the second chapter (chapters being a rarity in a Pratchett Book)I was in tears, and I didn’t even cry when my daughter was born.
The book looks at the themes of glamour and beauty being used to disguise true horrors and shows that a pretty face can hide a very nasty side. The book also deals with the themes of death and growing up and the main character Tiffany Aching does grow up…with a little help from the other witches and the good ole Nac Mac Feegle.
As with every Terry Pratchett book the fantasy genre is turned on its head (and given a swift kick in the fork) but in this fantasy novel, the immortal creatures who can make themselves beautiful with a thought are, much as you would expect, shallow, vacuous, arrogant dicks, these elven beauties are not shown as fair saviours from the worlds of Tolkien but as squabbling children, out for what they can grab hold of and are actually being opposed by a coven of witches, led by the young Tiffany Aching, her new apprentice and a strangely talented goat.
Even at the end of his life Pratchett still manages to take everything we know about genre, shake it up, drop it on its head, kick it in the fork and deliver something truly fantastic.