Mark Reads ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’: Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of The Shepherd’s Crown, Tiffany has a visitor. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

I am so excited, y’all. I AM SO EXCITED. I had figured that Geoffrey’s plot would converge with Tiffany’s, and it has finally happened at the PERFECT spot. Tiffany is in need of help, and she’s completely willing to train someone. But Pratchett brilliantly calls back to Tiffany’s own epiphany about being a witch. Tiffany realized that she was in a unique position: she was now in control of Granny Weatherwax’s old steading, and no one could tell her what she had to do with it. Oh, there was certainly an expectation from each individual witch about what Tiffany should do. We saw one of the more extreme ones from Mrs. Earwig, but thankfully, it seemed that the witches closest to Tiffany knew that she’d have to figure this out on her own.

So why can’t she make new rules along the way?

Still, Tiffany is initially suspicious by Geoffrey’s claim that he wants to be a witch. Clearly, he meant wizard. Except… nope. He meant exactly what he said. But Tiffany is used to a binary, to a world where men do one thing and women do another. I noticed the exact point where Tiffany’s belief in this began to crumble:

“Mr. Wiggal—my tutor—told me of one witch who became a wizard, so surely, mistress, the concept must go both ways? They say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, don’t they?”

“Well, yes,” said Tiffany, uncertain of herself.

While I’m not the biggest fan of the Adam’s apple moment (and I don’t feel like Pratchett intentionally was trying to fall into that trope of calling out an Adam’s apple to “remind” someone they are a “man”), I did think it was fair for Tiffany to bring up another major roadblock for Geoffrey: A lot of women were just not going to be comfortable with this “unknown man” suddenly being in their homes for “private circumstances.” That is a legit concern, and I like that Geoffrey didn’t dismiss it. Instead, he talks about what he is good at, where he could help, and what he might be able to offer. And yes, assisting with goats might not be the most necessary thing in the Chalk, especially since anyone who owns them around this part of the Discworld most assuredly knows how to take care of them. Still, Tiffany has some sympathy for him, so she decides to entertain the notion that maybe this could work out.

And then there’s Mephistopheles. You know, I got that Geoffrey and Mephistopheles were close, that their relationship was different and not what was expected, but because of this chapter, I have to examine this entirely differently. What the HELL is going on with that goat? You’s response to the goat was way too much to ignore. And You is a strange enough cat as it is! If Granny Weatherwax’s cat does THIS:

…she saw You stroll past the apple tree and suddenly stop, her back arching and her tail fluffing out to a remarkable size as she spotted the goat. There was a pregnant pause as the two eyed each other up—and Tiffany could have sworn she saw a quick flash of fluorescent light, greenish-yellow-purple—and then all was suddenly calm, as if there had been an agreement signed and sealed.

THEN I AM GOING TO PAY A LOT OF ATTENTION. What strange magic just unfolded? What was that flash? I know I had wondered if the last remnants of Granny’s spirit was still in You, so is this further confirmation of that? If so, what the fuck is inside Mephistopheles???

I’m not ready for this, am I?

Actually, I wasn’t ready for this part:

“I am intrigued, Geoffrey,” she said. “Why do you want to be a witch instead of a wizard, which is something traditionally thought of as a man’s job?”

“I’ve never thought of myself as a man, Mistress Tiffany. I don’t think I’m anything. I’m just me,” he said quietly.

The sheer cosmic coincidence that would line up this passage just days after I came out on Twitter as nonbinary (HI, HELLO, IT IS VERY TRUE, They/He pronouns please!!!) is astounding and joyous to me. Because there it is, spelled out in about as direct form as I can imagine. Well, I wouldn’t say never in my case, but for many, many years, I certainly have not. And I loved that Tiffany’s immediate response was that this was a GOOD ANSWER. It felt so damn affirming, and it’s one of the things Geoffrey does to impress her. Now, I don’t think this means that Pratchett necessarily intended Geoffrey to be nonbinary, but it was still an incredible moment. And from it, Tiffany knows she has a chance to do something incredible: change the world. Because, as she puts it:

If she was going to be a sort of head witch, she should be able to decide this. She didn’t have to ask any other witches. It could be her decision. Her responsibility. Perhaps a first step toward doing things differently?

YES. YES!!! Tiffany is in a position of power, and here she is, thinking of using it to change everything, and she’s starting with one person. Geoffrey intrigues her. (His goat certainly does, too.) And when Nanny Ogg shows up the next morning, this all takes a whole new meaning. Well, one of them isn’t a new meaning. As I’d spoken about in the review for the first chapter, Geoffrey feels so personal to me. So yeah, it was nice seeing Tiffany correctly identify that Geoffrey had left home because he had had difficulties with his father. Some people just know, and in the months after leaving my mother’s home, people figured out what I was going through after very little time around me. 

Anyway, what I’m leading up to. I loved this line:

“You mean he wants to do magic. Send ‘im to the wizards!”

And that’s what helps convince Nanny that she’s got it all wrong. Because no, he actually doesn’t want to do magic. Note that even when he was telling Tiffany about what his skills or interests were, he didn’t mention magic once. No, he brought up helping someone who was in need. That is… that’s a witch, right? That’s what they do! So maybe it isn’t that absurd that Geoffrey could be a witch, you know?

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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