Series: Discworld #25
Some dwarves set up a printing press in Ankh-Morporkh and Lord Vetinari decides it's time to move with the times and allow it, much to the Engravers' Guild's consternation. The book is a lot of fun, and I liked how Pratchett gave a nod to both the owner of the first printing press in England, William Caxton, and his assistant, Wynkyn de Worde, in naming William de Worde. He gets caught up in everything with the dwarves and basically invents the first newspaper on the Disc.
The scenes with Otto Chriek, the vampire photographer are great and I love it whenever poor Gaspode shows up.
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‘—no, that’s a poodle. It doesn’t look a bit like the dog we’re after—’
‘—no, that’s not it. How do I know? Because it’s a cat. All right, then why’s it washing itself? No, I’m sorry, dogs don’t do that—’
‘—no, madam, that’s a bulldog—’
‘—no, that’s not it. No, sir, I know that’s not it. Because it’s a parrot, that’s why. You’ve taught it to bark and you’ve painted “DoG” on the side of it but it’s still a parrot—’
'A dwarf needs gold to get married.’
‘What … like a dowry? But I thought dwarfs didn’t differentiate between—’
‘No, no, the two dwarfs getting married each buy the other dwarf off their parents.’
‘Buy?’ said William. ‘How can you buy people?’
‘See? Cultural misunderstanding once again, lad. It costs a lot of money to raise a young dwarf to marriageable age. Food, clothes, chain mail … it all adds up over the years. It needs repaying. After all, the other dwarf is getting a valuable commodity. And it has to be paid for in gold. That’s traditional. Or gems. They’re fine, too. You must’ve heard our saying “worth his weight in gold”? Of course, if a dwarf’s been working for his parents that gets taken into account on the other side of the ledger. Why, a dwarf who’s left off marrying till late in life is probably owed quite a tidy sum in wages – you’re still looking at me in that funny way …’
‘It’s just that we don’t do it like that …’ mumbled William.
Goodmountain gave him a sharp look. ‘Don’t you, now?’ he said. ‘Really? What do you use instead, then?’
‘Er … gratitude, I suppose,’ said William. He wanted this conversation to stop, right now. It was heading out over thin ice.
‘And how’s that calculated?’
‘Well … it isn’t, as such …’
‘Doesn’t that cause problems?’
‘Ah. Well, we know about gratitude, too. But our way means the couple start their new lives in a state of … g’daraka … er, free, unencumbered, new dwarfs. Then their parents might well give them a huge wedding present, much bigger than the dowry. But it is between dwarf and dwarf, out of love and respect, not between debtor and creditor … though I have to say these human words are not really the best way of describing it. It works for us. It’s worked for a thousand years.’
There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who, when presented with a glass that is exactly half full, say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty.
The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What’s up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don’t think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
And at the other end of the bar the world is full of the other type of person, who has a broken glass, or a glass that has been carelessly knocked over (usually by one of the people calling for a larger glass), or who had no glass at all, because they were at the back of the crowd and had failed to catch the barman’s eye.