“It should have been me.”

A very brief and unfocused post, just thinking things through for myself. Be warned: there is a huge spoiler here for anybody who hasn’t read ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’.

Shepherds CrownThe above mentioned book is the last written by that master of fantasy and philosophy, Terry Pratchett. (I suspect that he would have preferred to be known as a novelist, not just a writer in the fantasy genre, in the same way that John le Carré is not only a spy story writer.)

I’ve just finished ‘The Shepherd’s Crown’. I was going to review it, but will do no more than say it moved me to tears and laughter, although it is not quite the completely revised and polished Pratchett book we are used to. It is, incidentally, categorised as a “Young Adult” novel. I suspect very many old adults will have read it.

In it- spoiler now- the witch of witches, a cantankerous elderly lady called Granny Weatherwax, dies. (The book deals with the consequences for a young witch who becomes her successor.) After Granny’s death there is a shock which travels throughout the world of the novel. What particularly moved me was the response of her friend, the witch Nanny Ogg, who says: “It should have been me.”

These were the exact words used by Mrs Oblique’s grandmother- not apparently normally a very sympathetic character- when Mrs O’s sister died an untimely death in a plane crash back in the 1980s. She felt that the natural way of things had been upset.

Perhaps such a sad story illustrates a Zen meditation that goes something like this:

What is true happiness?

First the father dies;

Then the son dies;

Finally the grandson dies.

In Christian terms, I suppose an equivalent would be “To everything there is a season.”

Goodbye Granny Weatherwax…. and Terry Pratchett. As that incredibly literate friend of mine, HB, says: “I can’t believe he won’t write any more books for me.” Me neither, H.

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