The Last Book

Once I’ve finished writing this, I shall be reading the very last Terry Pratchett book, The Shepherd’s Crown. It’ll be difficult. On the one hand, I am looking forward to it. It’s a new Terry Pratchett book, after all, and it’s Discworld and it’s Tiffany Aching, one of my favourite characters. But on the other hand, it’s the last Terry Pratchett, and once I have finished this, the door to Discworld will be closed forever.

There were midnight sales of the book last night, as so many people were eager to read this. I woke up this morning and immediately checked my Kindle to see it had arrived. I suspect it’s already top of the best seller list.

Discworld, you see, is loved. Terry Pratchett created a universe that was different, and yet a bit like our own, with characters that reminded us of people we knew, doing things that we could never imagine doing, like fighting demons from the Dungeon Dimensions. His heroes were reluctant, just men and women trying to do the best they can. His villains were often men and women who just went the wrong way (although often they were bad in very recognisable ways). He dealt with prejudice and fear and religion and passion and taught us lessons without ever once preaching. And he was funny. So very funny.

It’s struck me over the past few days that Terry Pratchett himself was loved. I’ve very rarely come across authors who are loved by their readers – respected, admired, yes, but loved? Dickens, Douglas Adams, perhaps Neil Gaiman – and yes, I’ve noticed that two of those writers are fantasy/sci-fi writers like Terry Pratchett. Perhaps sci-fi/fantasy fans feel more connected to their authors than other genres, perhaps because the fans as well as the writers have always felt like outsiders.

I miss Terry Pratchett. His PA this morning said that he had notes for ten future books on his hard drive – books I will never read, and that feels heartbreaking. It feels cruel that there will be no more books.

But that gave me an affinity with him too – I also have notes for a pile of books to be written at home. And I don’t want anyone writing them but me.

But I have one more book to read. I shall make a cup of tea, switch off the phone, put the fireplace DVD on the TV, curl up in the corner of the sofa, and enter Discworld one last time.

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