by Terry Pratchett
Discworld is a series by Terry Pratchett. It’s fantasy, but it’s a hilarious satire poking fun at our own world. The characters live on a flat world composed of humans, vampires, witches, werewolves, igors, golums, trolls, dwarfs, zombies, etc. And I do mean etc.
After Patrician Lord Vetinari rescued Moist von Lipwig, conman/thief/swindler, from certain death, he put Moist in charge of the crippled post office. Now Moist has got the post office running so well, he’s bored enough to break into his own building. So, Vetinari more or less reassigns him to be in charge of the bank. But the fact that the Chairman is a dog, the clerk is a vampire, and the chef is homicidally allergic to the word ‘garlic’ are only the beginning of his problems. Because the Lavish family wants to assassinate the Chairman, a man from Moist’s past threatens to expose his identity, and all the gold has gone missing. Unfortunately, the only person Moist can get to instate paper money is on death row. On top of that, Moist’s long distant fiancée has brought back an army of clay men.
Oh, and there’s some good bits involving ladles.
The Discworld books get longer the more the series goes on, as with most series but PTerry (Terry Pratchett) still has it with shockingly good one-liners like:
“A smile played around Cosmo’s lips, which was a dangerous playground for anything as innocent as a smile” (260).
“Trolls didn’t have a word for machismo in the same way that puddles don’t have a word for water” (290).
“Moist looked around to see if there was any kind of emergency lever. There had to be something, if only in the event of nasal brain explosion” (241).
PTerry’s always had a knack for making characters lovable, or someone you at least love to hate, and in the case of Cosmo Lavish, hate to hate. I think it’s down to the details: God is in the detail. He only need give us one remarkable, unique detail about someone to make us remember him forever. Sort of a Chekhovian modus operandi. In Cosmo’s case, it’s that he is pathetically incapable of raising one eyebrow, so his forehead spasms whenever he’s trying to be cunning. That’s funny enough, but the reason he does this is because he wants to be like Vetinari. No, he wants to be Vetinari! To the point of stealing Vetinari’s old books, cap, and ring, and hiring a secretary he can call Drumknot (Vetinari’s secretary). This probably most appeals to readers because many fans have an obsession with Vetinari as well.
Personally, I prefer Vimes, and am ecstatic whenever he makes an appearance, as he did briefly in Making Money. But this book isn’t about Vimes, Vetinari, or even villain Cosmo. It’s about Moist. He’s not one of my top ten favorite Discworldcharacters, true, but I—like the citizens of Ankh-Morpork—can’t help but be swayed into his influence.
I am a little concerned about the volume of characters. It’s expected that there are a lot of characters. I have no problem with that and look forward to cameos from anyone I’ve encountered before. But the problem is that there are just as many new characters as old characters. No don’t get me wrong: With a cast of 50-some characters, I never once got lost, but I think, in theory, it could get overwhelming. I do remember groaning once when there was a new characters introduced pretty late into the book.
If I can be critical, the book does take quite a while to get started. It’s still funny and entertaining, of course, but there’s a lot of setup for a book like this. But once things start to happen, boy do they happen! You can’t put it down once the snowball begins to unravel.
I’m always surprised at how much insight PTerry has into his subjects. He writes like he’s an expert on banking. But last time, he wrote like he was an expert on the mail. Each book, a different area of expertise. No wonder people keep giving him honorary degrees.