Mark Reads ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of The Shepherd’s Crown, Geoffrey gets closer to Lancre; Tiffany struggles with her new life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Well, if I’m wrong about this, y’all are probably already cackling. But that’s what this is leading to, right? Geoffrey is headed to Lancre at a time right when Tiffany is finally ready to ask for help. In one sense (if this is indeed about Geoffrey becoming a with), this is an inversion of Equal Rites. Which feels fitting, given that this is Granny’s final book. (Ugh, even typing that makes me sad.) But it’s also very much not that book, and to say it is would ignore so much of the growth we’ve seen in the Discworld series. That includes Pratchett’s growth as a writer, too! 

So. Geoffrey. If we think about his abilities and his manor, he’s definitely “odd” compared to other young men around him. Pratchett plays with that oddness here as Geoffrey enters the Star pub. On the surface… yeah, it’s weird how Geoffrey dresses. It’s weird that he walks around with a goat named Mephistopheles. He doesn’t want money; he doesn’t eat meat; his goat is talented; he’s kind. All these little details separate him from others and set him apart. They’re differences from what is expected of him as a man in this culture. It’s part of why he’s so quickly dismissed by those around him. Yes, the absurdity of his presentation and his matter-of-fact claims contributes to that. Of course it does! But I also feel like Pratchett is commenting on the ways that masculinity is expected of men. How are they supposed to perform it? What happens to men who don’t perform as they are expected to?

It’s also fascinating to me how quickly Geoffrey wins these people over. Not just that. It’s the how as well. He uses polite manners and kindness. He isn’t trying to trick anyone or manipulate them. He’s just being genuine! He shows them that Mephistopheles can count, proves it without being smug, and then asks for very humble lodgings and meals for a few days while he figures out what to do next. He stops a vicious bar brawl but just… telling the men not to fight? And to go ask the woman who they’re fighting over who she actually likes??? WHAT THE. It fucking works, too! This felt like a distant cousin of Carrot’s technique of sincerity, you know? Anyway: if this is what he excels at, imagine what he can do with some training. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be accepted as a witch, though. Maybe? Ugh, I don’t know!!! I could see this happening, but it’s entirely possible that Pratchett is leading me elsewhere. Regardless: I really like the character of Geoffrey. And I don’t think I’m imagining that Pratchett meant us to think of him when Tiffany spoke to Miss Tick.

But I’m jumping ahead in Tiffany’s story. Tiffany is still… going through it. There’s no way she can ignore just how exhausting it is to be working two steadings at once. Yet it wasn’t until Nanny Ogg spelled it out that I realized what Tiffany was actually trying to do here: prove herself. To Lancre. To the Chalk. To the witches of both regions. And to herself. She was just given the most important role of her life. She knows the literal and metaphorical shoes she has to fill! So how can she possibly replace Granny Weatherwax?

Well, it’s clear now that she thinks she has to do everything. 

And on the surface… yeah, I get that. From her perspective, Granny did everything on her own. Her reputation was of a no-nonsense with who got shit done and probably made you a little afraid along the way. (Or a lot.) She was brilliant and talented and she definitely did this all on her own. Except… well, we know from past books that this just isn’t the case. Granny got help all the time! In her own way, that is. So part of this comes from a flawed perception of the woman. At the same time, Tiffany wants acceptance. She wants her colleagues in particular to believe she’s the right one for the job, but is this really the way to achieve that?

I think Nanny Ogg nailed it on the head: 

“Really,” she said to her one day as they shared a quick meal, “you know you’re good, Tiff. I know you’re good. Granny, wherever she is now, knew you was good, but you don’t have to keep tryin’ to do it all on your own, my girl.”

And she doesn’t! I say this knowing full well that I have often been the exact kind of person who takes everything on myself and doesn’t ask for help because I believe others will view it as a sign of weakness. THIS IS BAD AND TOXIC AND NEVER ENDS WELL. I completely understand why Tiffany has chosen to do all this, but from experience? Oh, no, this won’t end well. It’s complicated, though! What if the other witches think she’s not up to the task because she’s asking for help so early into the steading?

That’s why Miss Tick’s conversation is so vital. Not only does Miss Tick help Tiffany accept that she needs help, but she points out that the biggest naysayer, Letice Earwig, is also the easiest one to ignore. Mrs. Earwig doesn’t really know what she’s talking about, and everyone knows that. But also… the witches will see what really counts. Mrs. Earwig is all talk, no action. Tiffany needs only worry about one person: 


Mark Links Stuff

You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
– Not only that, but my very first pre-order campaign is now live for North American readers! If you submit proof of pre-order, you can get a limited edition print that comes with the book.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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