This is the last major Discworld novel from Pratchett and features con-man involuntarily-gone-straight Moist Lipwig. In previous books, *Going Postal* and *Making Money*, Lipwig was talked into reforming the Postal Service and the Banking establishment by the mostly benevolent tyrant of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari. Now Lipwig is put in charge of bringing railroad transportation to this part of Discworld, with the assistance of Dick Simnel, a young engineer who watched his father blow himself up trying to control an early model of steam engine. Dick pays more attention to the actual math and physics of pressure and is an expert on the use of “the sliding rule”, which almost seems like a magic wand to the unlearned.
What follows is at least partly a very funny primer on how entrepreneurship really works. You are laughing at every paragraph but also realizing that Pratchett really understands business and people. There is also another important plot dealing with racism in Discworld, between Humans, Dwarfs, Trolls, and Goblins. This is a final addition to the author’s legacy of treating serious problems with wise humor. (181w)
Stephen Brigg‘s entertaining audiobook performance wrings every bit of humor from the text. It might even be better than reading it yourself.
After Making Money
I feel so torn about this book. On the one hand, as the absolute last book in the Discworld series, I feel like it's immensely valuable. But, all things being equal, it just isn't as good as the others. It seems unfinished - I wonder if they rushed it through editing to get it out sooner. The writing just isn't as clean and sharp as previous Discworld books. All in all, kind of a bittersweet experience.
One of the sub series of Discworld novels that have Moist von Lipwig. con-man turned civic booster, as the main character. Ankh-Morpork, which was a medieval city state in early Discworld novels, is at a late Victorian/Edwardian level of development with centralized banking, a post office, telegraphy and now a railway.
There isn't much room for magic in Moist von Lipwig's Ankh-Morpork.. Instead there is a lot of earnest prose about combatting religious fundamentalism and embracing modernity. In my opinion, this novel really needs a good antagonist - the villain of the piece hardly appears at all and when he does he's not particularly impressive.
Not a patch on Pratchett's earlier work, unfortunately and recommended only for those who are Pratchett completists.
It pains me not to put up more stars for my friend, Sir Terry, but his wit is watered down considerably and it is no shame that his assistant(s) can't fill in the gaps. There are still moments of twinkling Pratchettisms and all fans will, of course read this book. If you are not already a fan, dive into some book in his mid career time.
A very enjoyable read from the beginning to the end. Much lighter than snuff and Death makes a proper appearance.
It is not the best discworld book by a long shot but has good sections. Quite a few characters get a surprise appearance on the margin of the two main threads of the plot.
Terry Pratchett's fortieth Discworld novel tackles many of the author's favorite themes, the heart of which can be found in one of his quotations: "It was funny how people were people everywhere you went, even if the people concerned weren't the people the people who made up the phrase 'people are people everywhere' had traditionally thought of as people." Part of what makes Pratchett a great writer is how well he does people: human people, dwarf people, troll people, goblin people, golem people...they're all people. They're all frightened-clever-ambitious-earnest-conniving-brave-opportunistic-caring people. The last thirty years and forty novels have brought Discworld from a (literally) flat parody of sword and sorcery novels to a nuanced exploration of human nature and any number of issues therein. This one is partly about the continuing modernization of the world—in the form of the invention of the steam engine and inception of the railway—and partly about the backlash against any kind of change—in the form of traditional dwarfs taking up terrorism and plotting a coup because the world is changing in ways they can't control. Moist von Lipwig is taken from his position as the head of the Post Office, the Bank, and the Mint, in order to take charge of this new project and get it rolling. As can be expected, the book is by turns funny and poignant, the insights very insightful, and the silliness rampant. Why, then, do I feel rather lackluster towards the book as a whole? I suspect it's because after thirty years and forty novels, we're just retreading the same ground, merely phrased a bit differently. Jingo dealt with war, innovation, and the ridicule of pervasive ethnic stereotypes, any number of books have dealt with humanizing the "alien" (Feet of Clay, Snuff, and Thud! to name a few), and the vagaries of politics have been explored in virtually every novel containing The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork—going all the way back to the very first book, The Color of Magic, which has all the depth and complexity of a pre-schooler's woodblock puzzle. Then, of course, is the tour of Discworld's greatest hits, featuring a cameo by Queen Keli of Sto Lat, partly starring the son of the man who made the first combine harvester, brief appearances by the faculty of Unseen University, a fly-by visit from a History Monk, and allusions to strange forces which control themselves with minimal support. If you have not read any Discworld novels, don't start with this one: there's far too much to absorb. If you've not read all of the Discworld novels, you'll be very pleased with this one. If you have read them all, you can still enjoy picking out the parts and calling back to where you've seen them before. Is this one of his greatest? No. Is it still worth reading? Yes, very much so.
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