Mark Reads ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’: Chapter 7

In the seventh chapter of The Shepherd’s Crown, Tiffany deals with a confrontation and has an epiphany; the Queen of the Elves finds out that she was told the truth. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

You get to watch this finally click in the video below, but: Mrs. Earwig projects her own flaws on to everyone else. There’s a lot to be frustrated about when it comes to her character, but it’s that unwillingness to give herself some constructive criticism that gets under my skin. Has she even once considered that maybe she’s in the wrong? That she has the wrong approach? That the perspective of another person might actually help her become a better person?

I actually believe she hasn’t EVER. That she’s gone through life believing she is at the peak of human excellence and superiority. If she was such a fantastic witch, why didn’t Granny ever recognize her for that? Ah, because other people are stubborn and foolish. But not Mrs. Earwig! Never her!

Pratchett smartly constructs her confrontation with Tiffany so that it is easy to see why Mrs. Earwig is so damn rude. There’s the name calling and the refusal to see Tiffany as a woman, only a girl. The age part in particular isn’t just grating to Tiffany; it’s how Mrs. Earwig demonstrates that she sees Tiffany as inherently incompetent. She’s just a child, not an adult. (I’m guessing it’s been a few years since the last Tiffany Aching book.) There’s a possible point buried deep within Mrs. Earwig’s resentment, but she doesn’t possess the kindness or tact to actually say that she has more experience as a witch—since she’s been one longer—and that she’d love to provide help. No, Mrs. Earwig doesn’t want to “help” at all. She just wants what she wants. The request for Esme Weatherwax’s steading isn’t an act of charity; it’s a selfish desire based in entitlement. 

And then she drops this bullshit:

“I’m not saying you are a bad person, my dear. It’s just that you can’t cope, and people are talking about it.”

Obviously, there’s the insult there; Mrs. Earwig probably does think Tiffany is a bad person. Which is ironic, given that Tiffany later says that she can’t quite think of Mrs. Earwig as a bad soul, despite that she’s got SO VERY MANY toxic traits. The irony!!! But again, that’s the difference between these two characters. The person who actually isn’t coping with Granny’s death? IT’S MRS. EARWIG. Like, the GALL of saying that Tiffany can’t cope when she has dealt with such MONSTROUS things SINCE SHE WAS A LITERAL CHILD is offensive to me. Did Mrs. Earwig defeat the Queen of the Elves? The Hiver? The Wintersmith? WHO DID ALL OF THAT? 

This gets me so heated. But I can tell it’s supposed to! Mrs. Earwig projects all of this onto Tiffany even though Tiffany has shown herself more than capable. So I was real happy that two things came of this. First, Tiffany tells her off. THIS WAS DEEPLY SATISFYING. Deeply! Tiffany very sharply gets to the heart of the matter: Mrs. Earwig is only a witch when it’s not messy. That motif comes back from previous books, too. Mrs. Earwig doesn’t like getting her hands dirty. (There’s a metaphor for you, Mrs. Earwig!) But unlike Mrs. Earwig, Tiffany is willing to introspect, to consider the words of someone else, and she comes to an important conclusion: She really is doing too much. The past chapter helped her get to this point, too, and I don’t want to ignore that, but I still loved that this additional epiphany happened here:

But the banging of the door as punctuation caused Tiffany to think and she thought suddenly, I want to do it my way. Not how the other witches think it should be done. I can’t be Granny Weatherwax for them. I can only be me, Tiffany Aching. 

Which I feel is related to Mrs. Earwig’s claim that things have “always” been done a certain way. Except… have they? And if so, is the mere existence of a tradition enough to justify it continuing? Truly, if any of you have ever been harmed or frustrated by a tradition and had that excuse thrown at you, you KNOW how angering it is. WHO CARES IF WE HAVE ALWAYS DONE IT ONE WAY. We have the beautiful option to choose what we want to do every day! Why can’t we just choose a new way?

So Tiffany does. She starts small by invoking the Feegles to help her do an old gentleman’s laundry, something that is both hilarious to me and revolting to them. Except for Daft Wullie, who appears to have ingested soap? Either way: it’s a change. It’s something new. What will Tiffany choose to do differently in the future? I’m excited to find out, since this now suggests a new possibility: Tiffany won’t have to choose which steading to manage. If she can reduce her daily workload through new techniques and an apprentice, she can still run both.


There’s still the tiny problem of the invasion by the elves, though. Tiny problem. Totally not a big deal. JUST KIDDING, IT MAKES ME VERY NERVOUS. That being said… wow, I genuinely don’t know where this plot is going aside from the very general invasion? The elves are now in the Discworld, but Of the Lathe the Swarf has twisted this story into an unexpected way. First of all: he wasn’t lying. The elves discover the existence of the railway and the Iron Horse, which puts them into a state of panic. Well, most of them; not the Queen or Peaseblossom. Which still makes me wonder what’s going on with Peaseblossom. What is he planning? I had entertained VERY briefly the idea that maybe he and Or the Lathe the Swarf were working together because they BOTH disliked the Queen, but I don’t know that that fits here anymore. So, let me adapt this theory: I think Of the Lathe the Swarf’s attack on Peaseblossom is going to further humiliate the Queen. Even though they’re now in this world, nothing is going as it really should. So… Peaseblossom is going to use that against her to try to take her place? Maybe?


Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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