Did someone say "Discworld Book Club"?
Thinking of a title for this review is difficult, because I could easily have mistaken Pratchett for having been a civil servant in British government early on in his career. For an explanation of the kind of thing I mean, watch the first 3 minutes and a few seconds of "Whoops Apocalypse" - that will explain the kind of humour in this book.
Here, the book is four stars. Number 33 in the Discworld series, I found Pratchett's later books to not be as rip roaringly funny as previous titles. His earlier novels embarassed me considerably, as I couldn't stifle a guffaw while on public transport.
In this book, he comments on the real life situation of corporate greed screwing over the general public and society at large, including not caring about the people it kills. But then, that is one of the endeering things about a Discworld novel. Pratchett not only entertains but brings observations about our present society, into the book to be held up for examination, discussion and sometimes just plain old flagrant abuse.
The UK's postal service, the Royal Mail, had been threatened with privitisation for some time, as various public services and properties had gone this way over preceeding years. Going Postal was published in 2004, perhaps forseeing the eventual beginning of the privitisation process in 2011. As such, this book holds an extra resonance with some readers.
In this book, the public postal service has been tehnologically overtaken by the Clacks, putting the post out of business. A group of financiers took over the Clacks service by dubious financial means, and proceeded to run it at bare minimum investment, causing failures which the public have no option but to stomach. Then, by dint of fate and perhaps more than a little planning by the extremely cunning Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, a new postmaster is found.
The task is frought with dangers, including a sorting machine which sorts mail that hasn't been written yet, letters that talk to you and, of course, the owners of the Clacks don't take too kindly to having competition, even if it does cost a dollar to send a letter to Genua. You can imagine the mayhem that ensues.
I'll hire vampires if they're a member of the League of Temperance, trolls if they wipe their feet, and if there're any werewolves out there I'd love to hire postmen who can bite back.
Endings are sad no matter if it happens suddenly or you know it’s been coming for some time, but all good things come to an end. The Shepherd’s Crown is the final book of Tiffany Aching journey into mature witch as well as the 41st and last Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. Not only was this the last book, finished before Pratchett’s death, but saw the biggest development in the series ever—warning spoilers below.
While Tiffany Aching continues work as the Chalk’s witch both see and Jeannie the kelda feel something is about to happen, which it does with the death of Granny Weatherwax in Lancre that sets off a chain of events. Granny leaves everything, including her steading, to Tiffany thus making her be seen as “first among equals” amongst witches. But the death of Granny results in a weakened barrier between the Disc and Fairyland as many elves seeing the Queen as scared and cautious after her defeat by Tiffany years before and it only grows when they learn goblins have been accepted in human society and that iron—railways—now rule the land. The Queen is usurped by Lord Peaseblossom who begins raiding into Lancre and the Chalk, which adds to Tiffany’s burden of covering two steadings in to locales that becomes a bit easier when a Geoffrey leaves his noble family and travels to Lancre to become a witch and turns out to have some talent—for a man. Gathering together witch allies, the Feegles, elderly men looking for a fight, and the deposed Queen to battle an invasion, Tiffany uses the power in the Chalk to defeat Peaseblossom—who killed the Queen in battle—then summon the King of the Elves—who kills the usurper for killing his wife—to prevent them from ever returning. Afterwards Tiffany knowing no witch can replace Granny give the Lancre steading to Geoffrey then builds herself a hut from the bones of her own grandmother’s hut to have an official residence of her own.
Pratchett did not complete this book as he would have liked to as Neil Gaiman stated in a later interview and the clues were there for a more emotional ending and closure for fans, but this unfortunate missed opportunity does not detract seriously from the book. On the whole, the plot and character developments were nearly perfect with the only except of Mrs. Earwig who felt like she had more to be developed but that Pratchett hadn’t had enough time to provide it.
The Shepherd’s Crown is a book of endings for numerous reasons and because of that some people do not want to read it, especially those who have been fans longer than I have. However eventually I hope those people will eventually read Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld book and see that even right up to his own meeting with Death that he strove to create something that made you think and show your emotions.
I want a raven (hubby said no, the boy said yes!) so I can name it Quoth which got me a nice eye roll from the boy. LOL
“The war was going badly for the weaker side. Their positioning was wrong, their tactics ragged, their strategy hopeless. The Red army advanced across the whole front, dismembering the remnant of the collapsing Black army.
There was room for only ONE anthill on this lawn...”
And, it's War overseeing a battle between anthills.
That one caught me by surprise. Sigh
A little farther along:
The Death of rats just got sucked into some weird time hole thingy. I think. And Quoth the raven just sits there preening himself saying I told you so. LOL
Once it had been a dream, it had been nearly realized before being abandoned, and many lost their lives looking to harness it until one young man succeeded. Raising Steam is the penultimate book of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, as Moist von Lipwig helps along the technological marvel of locomotion created by Dick Simnel that is monetarily supported by Harry King and pushed by Lord Vetinari early on especially to reach Uberwald which becomes imperative as the Dwarfs verge on civil war.
Young Dick Simnel saw his father killed while trying to control steam, but after years of reading and later technological tinkering he succeeded in creating a locomotive engine and a means to use it on rails. Dick then heads to Ankh-Morpork and the wealthy Harry King to get support, which the latter is happy to do. Soon train fever hits Ankh-Morpork and Lord Vetinari calls on Moist von Lipwig to utilize the invention to the betterment of the city, in no uncertain terms. Like always Moist’s mind begins seeing the possibilities in the new technology and begins helping Dick and Harry come up and implement ideas, but soon Vetinari begins pressing Moist to get things moving faster. All the while, dwarf society is splitting between fundamentalist and pragmatists resulting in attacks on such technological marvels as the clacks and the new railway. Then after the fundamentalists launch a coup when the Low King is at summit, it is only with the railway that the “King” is able to return to put down the coup and change dwarf society.
While I enjoyed the character of Moist in his previous two books, this book was not really a Moist von Lipwig book though he was the main point-of-view. In fact this book very much needed the reader to know the events that happened Thud! and Snuff, which were both Watch driven books especially as Sam Vimes featured heavily in the latter part of the book. The story was not bad, but the twists and turns were predictable and some random scenes were in fact plain random as they never played in the overall plot of the book. There was a hint of Pratchett attempting to make a commentary on religious fundamentalism with the acts of terror, but because of political climate of the time he wrote he watered it down a lot. However, the biggest drawback is that the humor was lacking especially as Pratchett included every person or group that have been featured prominently in the series, save the Witches, almost as if he wanted to show them on last time just in case.
Raising Steam is not the worst Discworld book—Eric—and it is close to being one of the best. Honestly, the story is fine, but seems to take longer than necessary. In previous books the reader could forgive this fact because of the great humor, but as stated before that is lacking. This book is for long time Pratchett fans and anyone interested in getting into Discworld is encouraged to find an book in the first three-quarters of the series to read first and work their way to this one.