Mark Reads ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’: Chapter 16

In the sixteenth chapter of The Shepherd’s Crown, Geoffrey makes a friend, Magrat gets help, and Tiffany ALSO makes a friend. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 


Geoffrey is just… different. He’s so unlike other characters in this series, first of all, but in this book, Pratchett continually shows us how Geoffrey’s uniqueness is a positive thing. It doesn’t make him weak, and it doesn’t make him bad. Instead, he is becoming a part of this new world through kindness. It’s a “new” world in two ways: For Geoffrey, this is his first time outside the home he grew up in, and he’s getting to see the world as Tiffany’s apprentice. But it’s also a new world for those he comes into contact with. They’re meeting a witch who is a teenage boy, first of all, but they also change while they’re around him.

Take Mr. Sideways, for example. Witches have generally relied on a certain reputation. Across the Disc where they exist, they know people fear them to some extent. Some of that is because of baseless tales and myths or due to actual bad witches from the past. But we’ve also seen how witches play into this (using stuff from Boffo’s, for example) in order to navigate the world. So, there’s a distance between a witch and a non-witch, and that separation is due to a healthy mix of respect and fear. You let a witch do their business, you respect them, and you go on with your day. 

Yet the people who Geoffrey meets ostensibly don’t see him as a witch. (And we’re not shown if he actually tells anyone that he’s trying to become one.) Even if they did, he doesn’t present like any of the witches we’ve met in the Discworld series. This doesn’t mean that Tiffany is a bad witch or that Granny’s technique was terrible; it’s just that Geoffrey can reach people and help them in new, exciting ways. Mr. Sideways opens up to Geoffrey because he feels safe with him in a different way than he does with Tiffany. It could be because Geoffrey is a boy, but it could also be partially due to Geoffrey’s demeanor. He’s someone who people feel inclined to be friendly to, and that’s what Mr. Sideways does. He confides in Geoffrey. He shows him his workshed. He trusts him. And if he hadn’t trusted him in that exact way, he wouldn’t have walked to his barn, and Geoffrey wouldn’t have figured out there was a hobnail in the old man’s boot, and the events of this chapter never would have happened.

And given the final lines, I think Pratchett is setting Geoffrey up on a parallel path with the witches. If Magrat and Tiffany are busy recruiting people for this war, then maybe Geoffrey is about to as well. Mr. Sideways’s hobby is COLLECTING WEAPONS. He’s been doing it for DECADES, and HE GETS SWARF, which we know is immensely effective against elves. 

Y’all. I think all the older, retired and semi-retired men are going to be organized by Geoffrey. I think this is going to be a war on many fronts, and this is a particular specialty of Geoffrey’s. These men will actually listen to him.


It’s starting to hit me how close I am to the end of my Discworld journey, so I’m thankful that after a long absence, Magrat has returned. I missed her a lot, and it’s been such a treat to see what kind of queen, mother, and witch she has become. She adapted. She is a character who started out in one life, pursued something she wanted, and then found a way to balance that new life with who she once was. Magrat never stopped being a witch! She just chose the right times to be one. And this is absolutelythe time to be a witch, isn’t it? Elves are invading the world, and so Magrat knows from experience that no single witch can conquer all the elves. I love that this is the reason she reaches out to Letitia!

What I love more is what she tells Letitia, who is understandably hesitant to be a witch, despite that she knows she has the potential. Look, she would be partnering with some of the most infamous witches of her time, so I feel it makes sense that she would see herself as inferior. How could she possibly measure up to witches who have been witches full-time for most of their life? 

Oh, Magrat, I’m so glad you said this:

“You don’t think you are a witch, but every part of my soul says you are. I wish I’d had your opportunities when I was a girl.”

She takes it a step further when Letitia tries to shut her down by saying she is a Baroness, not a witch. Isn’t Magrat also royalty? And does that make her any less of a witch? Now is the time to do something, and Magrat offers Letitia a validation she’s probably been craving for a long time. I cannot wait to see them work together. 


This is actually happening, isn’t it? IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING. Tiffany appears to have made a significant breakthrough in Nightshade, and it came as Tiffany helped someone in what is likely to be their final days. Nightshade is still struggling with the notion of kindness and altruism, especially since they can’t comprehend doing literally anything for another being if they don’t receive something in return. So it’s fascinating to me that Tiffany basically teaches her about friendship and kindness and community in terms that Nightshade might be able to understand. It’s not that people being nice get nothing out of the deal; there is a return, though more often than not, it’s just the feeling of having done something good.

To someone like Nightshade, though, that feeling is a revelation. She experienced it for the first time (ever!!!) when she helped the old woman with her belongings, but here, that sensation is even more intense. It also happens as Nightshade remains confused about human-goblin relations, but take a look how Pratchett wrote Tiffany’s response to all of this. Nightshade still thinks goblins are beneath her, and the idea of helping a second human? Preposterous! And yet:

“Why not?” said Tiffany sharply. “Of Piston the Steam just did. Are elves less than goblins?”

Whether Tiffany intended this or not, it directly appeals to Nightshade’s ego. It’s a passive aggressive challenge, but it fucking works. Nightshade helps out the dying woman by getting her a cup of water, and the old woman is KIND to her. The glimmer becomes a smolder. Nightshade is changing. Y’all, she even offered to help remove Peaseblossom’s glamour on the river. Is this the start of something much, much bigger? Is Tiffany actually going to turn Nightshade to the side of the Disc???

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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