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review 2017-05-21 00:00
Review: The Shepherd's Crown (Discworld Book 49 of 49ish!)
The Shepherd's Crown (Tiffany Aching) - Terry Pratchett

The Shepherd’s Crown is the last Tiffany Aching book and, published after the author’s death, it’s the last book in the entire Discworld series.  It’s very short, not having been completely fleshed out by Pratchett before his death, but it tells a complete story.  Tiffany, now a full-fledged witch, finds her responsibilities increasing beyond her ability to keep up.  Meanwhile, the elves are getting up to mischief again.

 

Unlike the last Discworld book I had read, the characters didn’t feel off to me, with one possible exception from a character who was only in the book for a page or two.  I also enjoyed the story pretty well.  It wasn’t one of the best, but it didn’t bore me either.  However, one major aspect of this story was spoiled for me months ago, so the story had much less impact than it would have had otherwise. 

 

And so here I am, after starting the very first book one year and twenty-one days ago, at the end of the series.  I started it with skepticism, not really expecting to care for it since I don’t normally do well with satirical, wink-at-the-reader type humor.  I love humor in my books, but I’ve always preferred humor that feels like a natural extension of the story and its characters whereas this type of humor tends to pull me out of the story to admire the author’s cleverness and consider the real-world parallels.  Maybe I was in the right frame of mind when I decided to try this series, or maybe Pratchett just did it exceptionally well.  Whatever the reason, I enjoyed this series quite a bit. 

 

I don’t think I ever rated any of the books higher than four stars, because these aren’t the type of stories that I get completely wrapped up in.  And yet the fact that these books didn’t completely absorb me is one of the things I liked about them.  There were some I liked more than others but, in general, they were light, fun, and usually entertaining.  They were particularly excellent travel books because they didn’t demand my full attention.  I’m not much of a re-reader, but I could see myself picking some of them up again someday, maybe in a few years, as reading material while traveling.  It might also be fun to try them as audio books.

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review 2017-05-20 04:05
Going Postal (Audiobook)
Going Postal - Terry Pratchett

I know these are all supposed to be (supposedly) stand-alones, but I still get the feeling at times that I'm missing things by jumping around. Like Moist Van Lipwig. It felt like I should know who he was at the start of this, even though this is listed as the first Moist Van Lipwig book. True, anything relevant to this book was stated up front, but that niggling feeling that there was more backstory than the book was giving me didn't quite go away. Maybe it's just the completist in me. *shrug*

 

Anyway, the idea of the post office as a sort of purgatory was great. And not just any post office, but the dead mail post office. Full of mail from literally everywhere and everywhen. This has all the typical Pratchett humor and wit, and the little observations about the idiosyncrasies of our own world that get leaked into Discworld to warped proportions. 

 

Moist, a conman in his former life, learns to put his skills to better use and even rights some wrongs - though not all of those wrongs were his. I really enjoy the way Pratchett does character development here. Moist clearly has things to learn, and does learn them, but not at the expense of who he is but through learning to use his powers for good instead of selfishness. Plus, it's just fun. :D

 

I was hoping for a guest appearance from DEATH, but sadly he never showed up. Oh, well, maybe the next book. :)

 

The narrator, Stephen Briggs, was perfect for this story and captures the whimsy of the characters and settings very well. 

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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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