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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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text 2017-08-07 07:36
Book Booty, August 2017

 

So, a visit to Kitabain brought me these beauties. Let’s look at them all:

 

I am slowly collecting my way through the Discworld novels. Sadly, I still have a ways to go. Anyway, planning to get back to this series as soon as I find the second book.

 

 

This hardcover edition is beautiful and contains many of the short stories written by Poe. The cover shows an orangutan from a murder mystery. A good addition to my collection, won’t you say so?

 

 

 

Part of the Ender’s Quintet and the very book that I needed to read next in this series. Can’t wait to get started.

 

Read my review of the Speaker for the Dead book here.

 

 

 

 

 

The unassuming cover opens into a most amazing book. You will find Victor Frankenstein’s experiments that led to the creation of his monster spawn. The book has illustrations, photographs, and log entries that give it an authenticity.

 

For my ongoing love affair with all things Frankenstein, you might wanna check out Project Frankenstein.

 

I think this is a good haul. How about you?

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text 2017-07-14 06:42
Review - The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett
The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett

I don't feel like I can give this book an actual star rating, if you know what I mean. Pratchett passed on in 2015 after the, "embuggerance," as he called it, finally got the better of him.

 

He did much in his life including campaigning for assisted suicide. An emotive subject from which he had an advantageous position in the discussion; ie. being well known and respected, his voice carried some weight and he could speak well.

 

My memories of Pratchett's Discworld series go back many years. When I was younger, reading a Pratchett book on a train was a sure fire way to be embarrassed as hell by the time I reached the final station. His writing was so funny that it was impossible to stifle a guffaw. Everyone else in the carriage would then look at me as if I was out of my mind. (they knew me too well!) Such was the power of a Pratchett book.

 

Discworld itself has been a growing environment. It has been a transformation. Sadly, it wasn't only the Discworld that transformed. Pratchett did also. His later works lost their sharp, observational humour and became more focused on the storyline itself. Not entirely a bad thing for a book, but it wasn't my original reason for picking up Pratchett.

 

To understand, "The Shepherd's Crown," it does pay to have read the appropriate books before in the Discworld series. The sub-wiki on the witches is here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witches_(Discworld) - and that's quite a lot of books.

 

There are very occasional patches where Pratchett's humour does still shine through, however...

 

Then he shouted so that the rest of the clan could hear him, "This elf is oor prisoner. A hostage, ye ken. That means ye are nae tae kill it until ye are told." He ignored the grumbles from the clan. "As tae the rest o' ye, tak guard around yon stones. And if they come in force show them what the Feegles can dae!"

Daft Wullie said, "I can play the harmonica."

Rob Anybody said, "Aye, weel, I suppose that puts the willies up me, so wud likely keep them awa."

 

Not exactly rip roaringly funny, but gives you an idea of Pratchett's original sense of fun. One of the more enduring lines early on in his Discworld career being, "In some parts of the city curiosity didn’t just kill the cat, it threw it in the river with lead weights tied to its feet.." - more here - http://www.chrisjoneswriting.com/terry-pratchett-quotes/category/curiosity - and don't forget to check the categories on the right hand side for more.

 

Like many of the Discworld books, there are a fair number of characters involved, but it was one of his abilities to be able to have a high number of characters in the story and still the reader is able to keep track of what's going on.

 

The story doesn't really, "complete," for me. If you come in to this book without having read what comes before, you will definitely be missing things about You the cat and other odds and sods that make this book what it is. Even if you have read them, then there are still things left without being fully addressed. I still want to know more about Mephistopheles the goat, for example. Pratchett gave things special properties without adequately explaining them for my inquisitive mind.

 

The final battle was a disappointment. It was over far, far too quickly. The whole book had been building up to that point and I, personally, found it to be wanting. I had been growing disappointed with his later books. I hadn't really picked up a book of my own accord for more than a decade. I only read them when family and friends gifted me one for a special occasion; as this was gifted to me also.

 

I guess that as Pratchett's writing moved him to greater fame and winning literary awards for the story and plot... he lost that devil-may-care humorous magic that I loved him for. Every time I eat a curry, Death crosses my mind, stood alone in the darkness of Ankh Morpork. Don't worry... read Mort (book 4, I believe.)

 

To conclude I guess that, for me personally, this isn't the pinnacle of Pratchett's writing career. Is it a statement of his life, and a true and honest memorial to the man that gave the world so much wit and laughter? Very possibly so. If you're going to read this, I highly recommend going through the whole series. It is worth the time I believe, for what little my humble opinion is worth.

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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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text 2017-06-25 16:10
Reading progress update: I've read 115 out of 352 pages.
The Shepherd's Crown - Terry Pratchett

Tiffany sighed. "Being a witch is a man's job; that's why it needs women to do it."

 

Enjoying this so far. Not like Pratchett's earlier works. Those were off the wall funny, while this has a more in-depth story to it and some very observant one-liners.

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