I married a man with a LARGE pile of books, and I’ve been happily reading through all his speculative fiction for the last two years. Terry Pratchett has written a LOT of books.
This book is about Moist von Lipwig (yes really), who is a probably-reformed conman whose fast-talking has saved the defunct post office. But now that the post office is saved, he is dying inside for lack of life-threatening terror. Luckily, the proudly tyrannical Lord Vetinari (who believes in keeping his citizens alive, since a live customer is worth more than a dead customer), steps in to give him another impossible task and a whole new crop of deadly enemies. The other main character is Adora Belle Dearheart, an understandably angry woman who devotes herself to the rights of the city’s many golems.
This is a Discworld novel, which means it is set in a disc-shaped world that rests on the backs of four elephants standing on the shell of a giant turtle swimming through space. Most of the action takes place in Ankh-Morpork, which is a little like London but greedier and dirtier. It’s also more bureaucratic, with more hazardous sausages and more screams in the night.
Pratchett’s world is certainly fantasy, with a variety of mystical species and wizards. It is also humour; a mix of groanworthy puns and biting satire (in this case, the thrust of the satire is about the banking system – which, when you think about it, is one giant con).
I’ve discovered in my reading that I don’t actually like humour as a genre – I want to take my heroes seriously. I especially dislike any humour based on puns or other self-aware language jokes (because they pull me out of the story), and I hate overdone accents with a fiery passion. There are a LOT of overdone accents in Pratchett books.
However, he is the master of his world, and none of his imitators are as good. If you like him, you’ll probably like Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams, and “Splashdown Silver” by Tansy Rainer Roberts.
Rating: I think G for everything Pratchett. Naughty things are implied sometimes, but very carefully not said. Some people die but it’s generally comical, and never truly frightening.
“[Moist] was not naturally at ease in the presence of skulls. Humans have been genetically programmed not to be ever since monkey times, because a) whatever turned that skull into a skull might still be around and you should head for a tree now, and b) skulls look like they’re having a laugh at one’s expense.”