Tag Archives: the shepherds crown

Crivens!

feegle3At the moment our house is enjoying a full-on adventure with the wee free men and their ‘Hag’ Tiffany Aching. Terry Pratchett’s ability to create a world filled with humour, excitement, intelligence, and heart is not compromised by writing for children. The Tiffany Aching series includes four (soon to be five) books, set in his iconic Discworld, and each book focusses on a young woman called Tiffany as she grows into a fine upstanding witch.

Out of my two my eldest is especially enthralled with the books. The first book (The Wee Free Men) went down a treat and he really got a kick out of the violent, loud, yet loyal and caring ‘Nac Mac Feegle’ (or ‘wee free men’). It’s a book series that I enjoyed myself years before I became a parent and there’s something really special about being able to share it with my kids now.

The thing that impresses me most is one simple fact that, in itself, shouldn’t be impressive: the main character is a girl. Every book follows Tiffany, sure the wee free men are there too, as are a few other male characters, but the character we follow through every page is Tiffany. This shouldn’t be a big deal but it is. So many books for children (my own included) focus on the adventures of a boy as the main character, and in most cases he’s also cast as the hero. It makes a refreshing change to see that a girl can be just as heroic, just as relateable for two young boys as any male protagonist (I feel I redeemed myself a little with Spark of Dreams, you’ll see Thea’s heroics near the end of the book).

Not once have my kids asked ‘but why is a girl doing everything?’ not once have they complained. Both my six (soon to be seven) year old, and four year old sons have barely noticed that they’re following the adventures of a girl. Perhaps it’s because this is one of the first chapter books I’ve read to them (smaller frame of reference), or maybe their generation has different expectations than mine did. Whatever it is, I’m getting a lot of enjoyment out of knowing that my two kids clearly know how brave, clever, and heroic girls can be.

I’ll be rectifying my own lack of a central female character in my books next year as I delve more into Thea’s story, and follow her on a voyage around the world of Fey. It’s in the planning stages at the moment, so very little is concrete, but I can’t wait to delve into the world of legends, mythological animals, and the downright made-up stuff that I’ve got planned for next year’s batch of books.

Tiffany-Aching-Poster-600x686In the mean time I heartily recommend Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books (‘The Wee Free Men’, ‘Hatfull of Sky’, ‘Wintersmith’, ‘I Shall Wear Midnight’, and Pratchett’s soon to be released, final Discworld book ‘The Shepherd’s Crown‘). In the first book you’ll follow Tiffany as she meets strange little blue men, discovers she might well be a witch, and has to fight the Queen of the Fairies. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as we are. All the best, John

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The last Discworld book

Tiffany-Aching-Poster-600x686Just a couple of weeks ago one of the greatest authors to have ever lived passed away far far too soon, after battling a disease that must have been like the stuff of nightmares. Terry Pratchett opened my eyes in regards to fiction. Before Pratchett I was a staunch Enid Blyton reader but Pratchett exposed a whole ream of fictional genres that I’d never touched on before.

This brings me to his last offering for us all. OK some of you may already know about this but I just found out so let me just enjoy it. I had genuinely expected him to stop at ‘Raising Steam’ and take a well-deserved retirement but he left us with one last glimpse of his incredible universe to enjoy.

‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ will be the last Discworld novel and the fifth in the Tiffany Aching series (genuinely my favourite, closely seconded by the watch) and it’s due out later this year. You can check here, here, and here for confirmation. I simply cannot wait, Tiffany Aching is one of the best girl characters I’ve ever read and if you aren’t familiar with her adventures you really should get ‘The Wee Free Men’ and get up to speed.

Pratchett was a prolific author and wrote at a pace that inspires and terrifies me. Every author of my generation owes him a debt. We grew up with the Nomes, Johnny Maxwell, and the Carpet People and we ventured into the monstrous, hilarious, and tragic wonder of the Discworld, being exposed to fantasy, crime fiction, love stories, high-end philosophy, and most importantly a rich array of the wonderful and terrible things that humanity has to offer.

When ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’ comes out don’t expect to hear from me until I’ve finished reading. Feel free to share your Terry Pratchett memories in the comments below. As always thanks for reading, cheers, John