The Shepherd’s Crown and Imperfection



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Tiffany Aching was clearly close to Sir Pratchett’s heart, as his last book on the Discworld was an ending (of sorts) to her story. That final book, “The Shepherd’s Crown,” is nowhere near as polished as the previous four books, and thus it is less perfect. But that really doesn’t matter.

Pratchett said that he hoped Ankh-Morpork felt like a city that kept working after you closed the book. Tiffany Aching feels exactly like that. There are loose ends, there are bits that don’t quite work and epiphanies that happen too quickly. But that doesn’t matter, because it all feels like it’ll keep going after the book ends. Not a believable change of heart? It probably wasn’t. No explanation for the magic cat? It’ll turn up. We just won’t get to read about it.

The dream of the writer is to have something keep on living in the readers. But Pratchett’s world–from the great cesspool of Ankh Morpork with its policemen and tyrant, to the high passes of Lancre, and down to the Chalk where Tiffany Aching goes to her shepherd’s hut on wheels when she wants to be alone–doesn’t even feel like it needs the readers. This ridiculous world on the back of a turtle feels like it really exists, somewhere, somehow. Deep in the souls of millions of readers, from now until who-knows-when. Because stories have power. And that is an achievement that may very well outlive us all.


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