Good End

The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching) - Terry Pratchett

“So cry ‘Crivens’ and let loose the clan Mac Feegle” (239)

 

                Once upon a time there was an idiot called Mr. J.  This hardly news because all idiots at some point or another.  Mr. J, however, was the idiot of idiots.  The Idiot race in Monty Python is Mr. J’s calling.  Mr. J wrote something idiotic about a decreased author, Mr. P, in the Guardian.  Again, this hardly news since the Guardian pays its writers to tell stories about stalking reviewers.  This time, the readers of Mr. P’s work took to the interweb and posted on star reviews of Mr. J’s book.  I suppose an Ms R would call this bullying.

 

                What does she know?  Discworld fans are a passionate bunch.

 

                The sad thing about Pratchett is that he never won the Booker for Nation.

 

                He should have.  But the book was steampunk.  The book is fantasy.  Too many people think that such description means it is mediocre, unserious, lacking message or teaching.

 

                Yet, Frankenstein is considered literature.

 

                There is rarely one idiot you see.

 

                It’s not that I think every Pratchett books is wonderful and deserving of a Booker.  Like all authors, Pratchett has his “off” books.  Dickens did too.  Pratchett would have never admitted it, would never use the word himself, but several of his books, Nation in particular, and are literature.

 

                The Shepherd’s Crown, Pratchett’s last Discworld novel, is a case in point.

 

                Crown is a Tiffany novel.  Tiffany is Pratchett’s answer to Harry Potter as Carrot is Pratchett’s answer to Aragorn.  In this last novel, the reader journeys not only with Tiffany but many of the other witches readers love.

 

                Sadly, there is no Ogg singing of the Hedgehog song.

 

                Tiffany’s journey is in many ways, always has been, about the journey of the self.  The struggle to be at home, to find oneself or that sense of having found oneself.  That while we are all different, no is lesser for that.  In fact, we all the bit stronger for it.  We go on with the experience of those before us, but we make our own way.  That life is about both change and tradition.

 

                I found myself crying at the end of the book, and not only because Pratchett is dead.  The book is a beginning and an end.

 

                Reading this book, one should be thankful that Pratchett existed and that he wrote.  Thankful that he wrote so much of himself into his work.  That his hope for humanity was never outweighed by his disappointment in it.  That he wrote this hope into his books.  That his love and knowledge of humanity, of what makes us human shines though his words.  Like in this book.

 

                Pratchett isn’t blind about humanity.  He is aware of all its faults, but he doesn’t offer a pessimistic view.  He doesn’t write about the big people, but the little people – those in the trenches who are, perhaps, the most human of all. Those who make the wheel move.  Like Granny, he makes us want to do better, to live up to his standard.  To see the heroic in everything.

 

And that is something great authors do.