Book: The Shepherd’s Crown – Terry Pratchett

The final book in the Discworld series. It was with great trepidation I read this, Terry Pratchett’s final book released after his death. It’s with even greater hesitation that I write about it because who am I to judge a man’s dying work, let alone that of Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, but this was a fantastic book as are all of his works and with that in mind I feel less like my writing here is judgement and more so a memorial.

The whole book was about endings, but it was also about beginnings, about how life goes on and how stories continue even when unobserved. Terry Pratchett knew he was dying when he wrote this book, but this isn’t the story of a dying man. This is the story of a woman coming into her own, of a people coming together and of a people mourning and honoring the dead each in their own way.

The Discworld has never feared Death, many occupants having encountered the anthropomorphic personification of The Reaper just goes to enforce the idea that death isn’t a finality, it’s a part of a process, the greatest journey ever taken, the greatest story never told.

Despite the bleak subject matter, and the author’s terminal illness, this is not a bleak depressing story. This is still a Discworld novel, filled with laughs (and the Nac Mac Feegles), I was wondering as I began this book, how can all the story lines be neatly tied together in one book, and the answer is they can’t; and if this book taught me anything it was that all stories come to an end and you might not be there to witness all those ends and that’s alright.

I’ve been reading the Discworld series since before I was a teenager, I first read The Truth (the 25th Discworld novel) and I didn’t understand it all, because some of it was far too adult for me at the time, but that didn’t stop me from reading the books, it means i reread them, all of them, every year, and with each reread I understood more because it reflected my life’s experiences.

With all of those rereadings, I became closer with some of the characters, everyone loves Nanny Ogg’s inappropriate suggestive remarks, everyone respects the man Sir Samuel Vimes has become (a Sir now!) and how could you not love Nobby Nobbs. With this story we lose a major character, it’s not the first time we’ve lost a character but I guess as the final book it will be last time and with that finality it made this loss even greater; but with this loss we saw one of our characters come into the person we knew they would be, and our hearts swelled with pride.

While Terry Pratchett didn’t specifically write about LGBTQIA inclusion he wrote about an equality and inclusion for all, regardless of sex, gender, or species. His world was one of fantasy and he reflected in it the same politics and prejudices from the real world, and with that he told stories. Stories of a world that could become a better place.

Like all the greats Terry Pratchett was taken from the world far too soon, but in his short time here he changed lives, and the world, for the better. With his final book like all other Discworld Novels, anyone can pick it up, read and enjoy it, and I hope it inspires them to read the other 40 magnificent works.

He will be sorely missed.

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