Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Going Postal

Going Postal: A Novel of Discworld

Terry Pratchett

Date: 28 September, 2004   —   $16.47   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy/Satire

This is Pratchett's thirtieth Discworld novel. Think of that for a moment. Thirty books. Yet Pratchett manages to keep things interesting, primarily by introducing new characters with their own lives to follow.

In many ways, this is the flip side of the Stainless Steel Rat. We get to see the down side of being conned, how it hurts people in multiple ways. We also get to see a con man who is forced to go straight.

That man is Moist von Lipwig, a name which he avoided using. After being hung to within an inch of his life (very precisely), he is offered the chance to reopen the old Anhk-Morpork Post Office. Of course, this offer comes with a golem "protector" to insure that he doesn't turn this down; Lord Vetinari is an extremely good judge of character.

It doesn't seem like much of a problem until you realize that the clacks— the Discworld equivalent of the telegraph— has been monopolized by a group of crooks who are very leery of anything resembling competition, and that the previous Postmasters all met messy ends. And for Moist, it's also a problem that his name and face are known, because what good is a con man when everybody knows him?

Pratchett's humor is getting subtler as time goes by, though there are still the occasional one-liners (such as the omniscope that keeps resetting to "that damned flaming eyeball.") You find yourself laughing not because something is funny but because it is true. And as with many Pratchett tales, it all ends for the best, but you never quite know how it's going to until you get there.

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