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text 2017-07-14 06:42
Review - The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett

I don't feel like I can give this book an actual star rating, if you know what I mean. Pratchett passed on in 2015 after the, "embuggerance," as he called it, finally got the better of him.

 

He did much in his life including campaigning for assisted suicide. An emotive subject from which he had an advantageous position in the discussion; ie. being well known and respected, his voice carried some weight and he could speak well.

 

My memories of Pratchett's Discworld series go back many years. When I was younger, reading a Pratchett book on a train was a sure fire way to be embarrassed as hell by the time I reached the final station. His writing was so funny that it was impossible to stifle a guffaw. Everyone else in the carriage would then look at me as if I was out of my mind. (they knew me too well!) Such was the power of a Pratchett book.

 

Discworld itself has been a growing environment. It has been a transformation. Sadly, it wasn't only the Discworld that transformed. Pratchett did also. His later works lost their sharp, observational humour and became more focused on the storyline itself. Not entirely a bad thing for a book, but it wasn't my original reason for picking up Pratchett.

 

To understand, "The Shepherd's Crown," it does pay to have read the appropriate books before in the Discworld series. The sub-wiki on the witches is here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witches_(Discworld) - and that's quite a lot of books.

 

There are very occasional patches where Pratchett's humour does still shine through, however...

 

Then he shouted so that the rest of the clan could hear him, "This elf is oor prisoner. A hostage, ye ken. That means ye are nae tae kill it until ye are told." He ignored the grumbles from the clan. "As tae the rest o' ye, tak guard around yon stones. And if they come in force show them what the Feegles can dae!"

Daft Wullie said, "I can play the harmonica."

Rob Anybody said, "Aye, weel, I suppose that puts the willies up me, so wud likely keep them awa."

 

Not exactly rip roaringly funny, but gives you an idea of Pratchett's original sense of fun. One of the more enduring lines early on in his Discworld career being, "In some parts of the city curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, it threw it in the river with lead weights tied to its feet.." - more here - http://www.chrisjoneswriting.com/terry-pratchett-quotes/category/curiosity - and don't forget to check the categories on the right hand side for more.

 

Like many of the Discworld books, there are a fair number of characters involved, but it was one of his abilities to be able to have a high number of characters in the story and still the reader is able to keep track of what's going on.

 

The story doesn't really, "complete," for me. If you come in to this book without having read what comes before, you will definitely be missing things about You the cat and other odds and sods that make this book what it is. Even if you have read them, then there are still things left without being fully addressed. I still want to know more about Mephistopheles the goat, for example. Pratchett gave things special properties without adequately explaining them for my inquisitive mind.

 

The final battle was a disappointment. It was over far, far too quickly. The whole book had been building up to that point and I, personally, found it to be wanting. I had been growing disappointed with his later books. I hadn't really picked up a book of my own accord for more than a decade. I only read them when family and friends gifted me one for a special occasion; as this was gifted to me also.

 

I guess that as Pratchett's writing moved him to greater fame and winning literary awards for the story and plot... he lost that devil-may-care humorous magic that I loved him for. Every time I eat a curry, Death crosses my mind, stood alone in the darkness of Ankh Morpork. Don't worry... read Mort (book 4, I believe.)

 

To conclude I guess that, for me personally, this isn't the pinnacle of Pratchett's writing career. Is it a statement of his life, and a true and honest memorial to the man that gave the world so much wit and laughter? Very possibly so. If you're going to read this, I highly recommend going through the whole series. It is worth the time I believe, for what little my humble opinion is worth.

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review 2017-06-27 22:26
The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30, Tiffany Aching #1)
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett

The Chalk is a place of sheep and shepherds but never a witch was known to be there, however that might have been incorrect.  Terry Pratchett’s 30th Discworld novel, The Wee Free Men, is the second time he’s written for young adults but his writing and humor are top notch as well  follow a nine-year witch Tiffany Aching going up against the Queen of Elves with only a horde of six-inch blue little men.

 

Tiffany Aching finds her family farm being invaded by monsters from dreams as well as a horde of little blue men, the titular Wee Free Men.  Tiffany is very smart for her age and sees things as they are just like her grandmother, so when strange things pop up she uses an iron pan to beat them back.  Although she later figures out that her grandmother was a witch, Tiffany has her first encounter with one in the form of Ms. Lick who tells her to be careful but not to tackle the problem on her own but when her brother is kidnapped by the Fairie Queen, Tiffany knows she’s going to need help while not sounding desperate.  Tiffany’s help comes to her when the local clan of the Wee Free Men shows up looking for the new “hag ol’ the hills” because of the invasion of the Queen.  Tiffany and the Wee Free Men invade ‘Fairyland’ and manage to return with her brother, a feat that Granny Weatherwax finds impressive for someone so young and untrained.

 

The Wee Free Men features Tiffany as the only point-of-view character, save from a narrator, which keeps the book fairly orderly when reading as well as being in line for a book for younger readers.  The story itself is somewhat familiar for long time Discworld fans with the antagonist being the Queen of the Elves invading, but Pratchett changes things up with the use of dreams and the conflict as seen from a nine-year old.  The cameo appearance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg at the end, sets up further adventures of Tiffany and connects her subseries with the Witches subseries with the hopes of seeing favorite characters in future books.

 

The second young adult and first Tiffany subseries book of the Discworld canon is a fantastic book; The Wee Free Men gives someone new for long time fans while introducing older characters for younger new readers.  While it’s intended for a younger audience, older fans will appreciate Pratchett’s humorous fantasy writing with his twists and turns.

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text 2017-06-25 16:10
Reading progress update: I've read 115 out of 352 pages.
The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett

Tiffany sighed. "Being a witch is a man's job; that's why it needs women to do it."

 

Enjoying this so far. Not like Pratchett's earlier works. Those were off the wall funny, while this has a more in-depth story to it and some very observant one-liners.

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review 2017-06-07 00:00
Soul Music
Soul Music - Terry Pratchett Not laugh-out-loud funny, but good in its way. A suitably odd look at music causing the youth (and not so youthful) of Ankh-Morpork to get a bit carried away.

A good selection of characters, with some nice in-jokes.
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review 2017-05-21 00:00
Review: The Shepherd's Crown (Discworld Book 49 of 49ish!)
The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching) - Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown is the last Tiffany Aching book and, published after the author’s death, it’s the last book in the entire Discworld series.  It’s very short, not having been completely fleshed out by Pratchett before his death, but it tells a complete story.  Tiffany, now a full-fledged witch, finds her responsibilities increasing beyond her ability to keep up.  Meanwhile, the elves are getting up to mischief again.

 

Unlike the last Discworld book I had read, the characters didn’t feel off to me, with one possible exception from a character who was only in the book for a page or two.  I also enjoyed the story pretty well.  It wasn’t one of the best, but it didn’t bore me either.  However, one major aspect of this story was spoiled for me months ago, so the story had much less impact than it would have had otherwise. 

 

And so here I am, after starting the very first book one year and twenty-one days ago, at the end of the series.  I started it with skepticism, not really expecting to care for it since I don’t normally do well with satirical, wink-at-the-reader type humor.  I love humor in my books, but I’ve always preferred humor that feels like a natural extension of the story and its characters whereas this type of humor tends to pull me out of the story to admire the author’s cleverness and consider the real-world parallels.  Maybe I was in the right frame of mind when I decided to try this series, or maybe Pratchett just did it exceptionally well.  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this series quite a bit. 

 

I don’t think I ever rated any of the books higher than four stars, because these aren’t the type of stories that I get completely wrapped up in.  And yet the fact that these books didn’t completely absorb me is one of the things I liked about them.  There were some I liked more than others but, in general, they were light, fun, and usually entertaining.  They were particularly excellent travel books because they didn’t demand my full attention.  I’m not much of a re-reader, but I could see myself picking some of them up again someday, maybe in a few years, as reading material while traveling.  It might also be fun to try them as audio books.

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