My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been waiting for this book ever since it was announced... but it took forever for me to get it, partially because I've sort of banned myself from going to book stores for a while now. :D
To be perfectly honest, in terms of emotional content and my personal relation to this book (The witches/Tiffany Aching archs have always been a personal favourite, even more than the later Vimes books), this is definitely a 5-star book. I don't want to give spoilers, but CHAPTER TWO DID ME IN. And Chapter Three... and I don't think I really climbed out of my funk until somewhere around Chapter 6 or 7 (maybe?) when I took a break from reading to do real life stuff, like wash the dishes.
(Note to self: starting a new book over dinner always sounds like a good idea, BUT IT NEVER IS)
Why only four stars then?
It's... really not as polished, or Pratchett-esque, as I wanted it to be. I mean, yes, I understand he died in the middle of writing it (*sniff*) but maybe I was hoping that someone could have made it shine as much as he did. It feels as if there are parts that are sort-of there, but it just doesn't sparkle yet. Like a slightly un-formed thought. I think Geoffrey could have been so much more - more right, more... funny, maybe -
- that said, I also acknowledge that the Aching series, being YA, isn't usually as snarky as some of the others. Still.
As a whole, The Shepherd's Crown felt a little like an extended goodbye. There were so many little goodbyes in each chapter - intentional or unintentional, I doubt we'll ever know. At some point, it felt a little like The Last Battle (emotionally, as least); it's as if the author himself is saying goodbye to his characters, bringing in older ones you didn't expect to appear in the book to let them have a last say, a last look.
But well, as the afterword says,
The Shepherd's Crown has a beginning, a middle and an end, and all the bits in between. Terry wrote all of those. But even so, it was, still, not quite as finished as he would have liked when he died. If Terry had lived longer, he would almost certainly have written more of this book. There are things we all wish we knew more about. But what we have is a remarkable book, Terry's final book, and anything you wish to know more about in here, you are welcome to imagine yourself.
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