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review 2017-08-15 02:58
Monstrous Regiment (Discworld #31, Industrial #3)
Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett

Polly Perks cuts her hair and leaves home to join her nation’s army to find her brother and bring him home; however her act of defiance against her country’s social norms turns out to have consequences geopolitically.  Monstrous Regiment, the 31st book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and the third of the Industrial subseries in which the vast majority of the book comes from Polly’s point-of-view in which gender, religious, and military issues play a big role in the narrative.

 

The nation of Borogravia is always at war in one neighbor or another, their god Nuggan is dead because they believe his Abominations more than him, and their ruler The Duchess is probably dead after not being seen for decades but is slowly becoming defied in replace of Nuggan.  All of these things conspire to make Polly go to find her brother Paul in the Kneck valley and bring him home so that she doesn’t lose the family inn.  After signing up, she and the rest of the new recruits become the new “lads” of legendary soldier Sergeant Jackrum but on the way to the front Polly finds that all the other recruits are also women having joined for their own reasons.  Throughout the book, the regiment starts impacting the war on an international scale as the Anhk-Morpork Times details the adventures of the troop making them underdogs back home even as they oppose the alliance that Anhk-Morpork is a part of.

 

Although the geopolitical aspects of her regiments actions comes as a surprise to Polly, most of her concerns throughout the entire book is understanding a “woman’s role in a man’s world”, the insane religion they’re dealing with, and finally military culture between commissioned and non-commissioned officers.  Pratchett’s use of real world issues into his fantasy world might annoy some readers but I thought it was handled well especially in his dry satirical style.  The only really big irritation was that after a while the surprise of another woman-as-a-man in uniform lost its impact because you could basically guess who was going to be eventually revealed to be a woman, so it became less important and just Pratchett check off another reveal.

 

Monstrous Regiment deals with a lot of real world issues in a dry satirical style that Pratchett is famous for.  Although the book’s long running gag of revealing women-as-men in uniform gets old and easy to predict as the book goes along, it doesn’t take away from the overall good quality of the book.  If you’re a Discworld fan you’ll like this book but if you’re new to the series try another book first.

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review 2017-06-27 22:26
The Wee Free Men (Discworld #30, Tiffany Aching #1)
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett

The Chalk is a place of sheep and shepherds but never a witch was known to be there, however that might have been incorrect.  Terry Pratchett’s 30th Discworld novel, The Wee Free Men, is the second time he’s written for young adults but his writing and humor are top notch as well  follow a nine-year witch Tiffany Aching going up against the Queen of Elves with only a horde of six-inch blue little men.

 

Tiffany Aching finds her family farm being invaded by monsters from dreams as well as a horde of little blue men, the titular Wee Free Men.  Tiffany is very smart for her age and sees things as they are just like her grandmother, so when strange things pop up she uses an iron pan to beat them back.  Although she later figures out that her grandmother was a witch, Tiffany has her first encounter with one in the form of Ms. Lick who tells her to be careful but not to tackle the problem on her own but when her brother is kidnapped by the Fairie Queen, Tiffany knows she’s going to need help while not sounding desperate.  Tiffany’s help comes to her when the local clan of the Wee Free Men shows up looking for the new “hag ol’ the hills” because of the invasion of the Queen.  Tiffany and the Wee Free Men invade ‘Fairyland’ and manage to return with her brother, a feat that Granny Weatherwax finds impressive for someone so young and untrained.

 

The Wee Free Men features Tiffany as the only point-of-view character, save from a narrator, which keeps the book fairly orderly when reading as well as being in line for a book for younger readers.  The story itself is somewhat familiar for long time Discworld fans with the antagonist being the Queen of the Elves invading, but Pratchett changes things up with the use of dreams and the conflict as seen from a nine-year old.  The cameo appearance of Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg at the end, sets up further adventures of Tiffany and connects her subseries with the Witches subseries with the hopes of seeing favorite characters in future books.

 

The second young adult and first Tiffany subseries book of the Discworld canon is a fantastic book; The Wee Free Men gives someone new for long time fans while introducing older characters for younger new readers.  While it’s intended for a younger audience, older fans will appreciate Pratchett’s humorous fantasy writing with his twists and turns.

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review 2017-05-19 23:16
Review: Raising Steam (Discworld Book 48 of 49ish)
Raising Steam (Discworld) - Terry Pratchett

Raising Steam is the third and final book in the Moist Von Lipwig subseries of Discworld, and the second-to-last book in the entire series.  In this book, we meet a new character by the name of Simnel who has invented the steam engine and introduced the concept of fast travel by train.  Meanwhile, there is more unrest between the traditional and modern dwarfs.

 

This book spends a lot of time talking about trains: building trains and railways, operating trains, the benefits of trains, train safety, and so forth.  This is not, to me, a particularly exciting topic, and sometimes I had trouble pushing through the book.  I was interested enough that I didn’t want to abandon it, especially not so close to the end of the series, but it put me to sleep a few times.  I was also on my second week of business travel and pretty worn out in any case, so maybe this had as much to do with me as it had to do with the book.

 

Vetinari, a character I’ve greatly enjoyed since his first introduction, gets quite a bit of page time in this book, but for some reason he didn’t seem like Vetinari to me.  Normally he’s more taciturn.  He manipulates and influences people with a few pointed words, with silence and perhaps some intimidating looks, and with visual aids.  That's one of the reasons I enjoy his character so much.  In this book, he had a tendency toward detailed monologues and explanations, and there were one or two weird sections where he sounded like the CEO of a company using corporate buzzwords.

 

It wasn’t a bad book, and there were parts I enjoyed, but it wasn’t at the level I’ve come to expect from the Discworld books.  Combine that with a topic I wasn’t that interested in, and I just didn’t enjoy this as much as the previous books.

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review 2017-05-19 02:57
Jingo by Terry Pratchett
Jingo (Discworld, #21) - Terry Pratchett

Series: Discworld #21

 

The island Leshp rises from the sea, kind of like an anti-Atlantis, and both Klatch and Ankh-Morpork try to lay claim to it. There’s a real risk of both countries going to war and Commander Vimes is investigating the attempted assassination of Prince Khufurah. This doesn’t explain this book or what I liked about it, but that’s difficult to do without quoting half the book. It’s a commentary on war with layers upon layers of jokes, and it’s one of my personal favourites from the Discworld series.  There’s the Watch with Vimes, Carrot, Cheery, Detritus, and Angua as well as a larger than usual role for Vetinari although he still manages to put one over everyone (surprise, surprise).

 

I read this for booklikes-opoly square Frontierland 4 “Read a book where a character travels by boat” since as well as being next up in my Discworld reread, Vimes and others travel by ship over the sea while others (spoilers!) travel by boat under the sea. There’s an unusual amount of travelling by boat for a Discworld novel considering the Unseen University sculling team races by running on the river Ankh while carrying their boat (I forget what they call the sport because it’s not described in this book).

 

At 406 pages of text (414 pages minus the 8 pages before the book properly starts), this grants me another $5 for my bank, bringing my total to $87.

 

Previous update: 184/414 pages

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review 2017-05-19 00:42
Night Watch (Discworld #29, Watch #6)
Night Watch (Discworld, #29) - Terry Pratchett

The past and future of Ankh-Morpork revolve around the efforts of His Grace Sir Sam Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, and he doesn’t like it one bit.  Night Watch, the sixth book focusing on the City Watch and twenty-ninth overall book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series finds Vimes dealing with his wife about to give birth, the deaths of two of his two officers and chasing the man responsible, then finding himself in the past playing the mentor to his younger self during a time of revolution.

 

Sam Vimes loves being a copper, but not so much His Grace when things have to be official, but after a magical “accident” caused by the Monks of History to send him 30 years into the past Vimes must make sure history happens like it did when he was a 17-year old newbie.  Becoming his mentor Sergeant John Keel and second-in-command at his old Watch House, Vimes attempts to bring about the past he remembers so his “present” remains the same.  Unfortunately for Vimes, a genius yet insane killer Carcer was brought back with him and has his own agenda—chaos and murder.  Add in a revolution hitting Ankh-Morpork and Vimes is in for some very stressful days.

 

This isn’t the first time that Pratchett has done a little time travel in a Discworld novel, but it was the first in which it was the primary element in one.  Vimes becoming the heroic mentor to his younger self, is somewhat cliché but Pratchett uses Vimes own grim view of the world to an advantage as starts to become imprinted on young Sam.  Yet, Vimes existential fretting about messing up his future does get tiresome after him doing it so many times in the book that it almost seems that Pratchett was finding ways to take up page space.

 

Night Watch is an action-packed installment in the Discworld series that Pratchett writes fantastically with Sam Vimes as the protagonist, even with the overused existential fretting.  Once again I’ve found a Watch book bringing out the best of Pratchett and the entire Discworld setting, I can only hope the other two books of the subseries will be the same.

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