This is the last ever Discworld book, which makes me a bit sad. But we got so many great books from Sir Terry Pratchett, so there’s a lot to be happy about, too.
If you haven’t read a Discworld book (or any of Tiffany’s books), and you mind spoilers, stop before the book cover. This book is part of a series, so it’s impossible to avoid spoilers of earlier books. No spoilers for Shepherd’s Crown, though.
You should read Discworld, if you haven’t done so. There’s a wonderful variety of well-rounded characters, great and slightly zany world-building, and hilarious jokes* woven throughout, some obvious and some subtle. The books are more than just funny, too.
*some in footnotes, because why not?
Tiffany has overcome a lot in her young life–became a witch, met the Wee Free Men, defeated the elf queen, danced with the personification of winter, and spoken with the magic of the Chalk–but she’s facing something truly terrible this time. The portents are everywhere, and the witches are worried. She’ll have to martial her allies, but loss stalks her, and Tiffany will struggle with her new burdens. But she has steel in her soul, and will do all she can to protect her people. Even the strange ones.
This story is, as the afterword says (don’t forget to read the afterword!), not quite finished. Pratchett had written a complete draft, but his habit was to go back and add to, subtract, and polish his drafts. He didn’t have time to that with this book, sadly. The story reflects that, with some areas rougher than others. It doesn’t feel quite finished. But overall, this is a lovely book.
Perhaps sadder than this being the last book, is the feeling this book leaves you with. It feels like a goodbye–gathering together quite a few characters from previous books for one last time. It’s a little less happy than a Discworld fan might be used to, but it has good reason to be so. And, underneath the jokes, Discworld books have always had a serious theme, so this isn’t so unusual. There’s hope still there–and a happy ending.
Tiffany is a favorite character of mine because she’s ordinary enough, but determined. She’s willing to think to overcome her problems, and use the weapons at hand–and is a nice blend of likable and flawed. She’s young, but mature, in a believable way, responsible, but with the newness of learning her way. Like all of Pratchett’s characters, I wish her well, in the story-world of her life off the page.