September 8, 2015

The Shepherd’s Crown: Saying Goodbye With Terry Pratchett's Last Discworld Novel


This was a very hard book to read.

Not that it was bad, mind you. It may have been a bit incomplete. It did feel short - not even 300 pages. If you’re reading this, you might know. The author died.

He died, and the day I heard, I sat at my desk and cried. I’m a grown man, right? So I closed the door and made a coworker who looked in on me feel bad, If you’re like me, you’ve spent hours and hours with Terry. He’s a friend you lost, and this is the last letter he wrote before you lost him.

It is hard because in the beginning of the book, a beloved character dies too. It was impossible for me to read it without thinking that Terry was a stand-in for the character. There’s a conflation that I cannot escape. The character who passed was a witch, and a special thing about the witches is that they know when they will die, so their rendezvous with Death can be orderly and planned, unlike most of us. Terry knew too. He’d been facing the reality of his impending mortality since 2007. I guess that gives you more focus, and more urgency.

In here, Terry writes: “No long faces, [...] please. She’s had a good death at home, just as anyone might wish for. Witches know that people die: and if they manages to die after a long time leavin’ the world better than they went an’ found it, well then that’s surely a reason to be happy” (61). The world is a better place that Terry was in it.  
As for the book, it is all you could want for a final coda from a friend. We learn more about the Chalk, and we see Tiffany come into her own. What more could you ask?