cover image The Shepherd's Crown

The Shepherd's Crown

Terry Pratchett. Harper, $18.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-06-242997-1

Pratchett's characteristic generosity is very much at the fore of this final Tiffany Aching tale, the last Discworld novel from the author, who died in March. Fans will also find plenty of other well-loved elements: exuberant wordplay, vaudevillian humor, the rambunctious blue-skinned Nac Mac Feegle, and%E2%80%94beneath it all%E2%80%94a susurrus of shivery archetype and myth. The death of a powerful witch, an event most solemn and heartfelt, reverberates throughout the world and sets the crackling adventure in motion. Sensing a new weakness in the barrier that separates their realm from the Disc, the cruel elves of Fairyland prepare for an invasion. Meanwhile, Tiffany is stretched thin in her work as witch and all-around healer when her responsibilities expand to include a second community. At the same time, peaceful Geoffrey%E2%80%94a character new to the series%E2%80%94heads toward the town of Lancre with the aim of becoming a witch, though women traditionally hold that position. As Tiffany, Geoffrey, and others gather to combat the elvish incursion, Pratchett allows some longtime characters to reveal surprising new qualities, including the delightfully insufferable Letice Earwig ("pronounced ah-wij," of course) and Nightshade, Queen of the Elves%E2%80%94Tiffany's foe from her earliest adventure. Rather than tie everything up with a simple happily-ever-after, the ending leaves Tiffany poised to begin a new phase of adulthood%E2%80%94one with the potential for adventures that are now up to readers to imagine. Pratchett's final work is a tour de force of compassion, great wit, and gleeful storytelling. He will be missed. Ages 13%E2%80%93up. (Sept.)