Another fantastical instalment of the Discworld, Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett is number 40 in fact. Moist von Lipwig is out making the best kind of mischief again, the money-making kind.
For me, the mark of a great Terry Pratchett book (such as previously reviewed Mort and Thud!) is how often it makes me smile or laugh out loud. This had his trademark humour threaded throughout the crazy storyline – a mixture of impossibly accurate scenarios, mad happenings and more than a few cross-cultural references. What more could you expect from a society with golems, trolls, dwarves, goblins and worst of all, humans?
A new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it’s soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.
Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi’ t’flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Lipwig von Moist (master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank) will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he’s going to stop it all going off the rails . . .
When I wasn’t laughing, devouring this made me a little sad (if I start Tweeting weird stuff, ignore me it’s the sleep deprivation). It seems a little like a goodbye as the author mentions many of the previous books in passing and some of my favourite minor characters who seem to be settling into their domestic lives. Maybe it’s because of the author’s health, maybe it’s because of the programme I watched. I don’t know. I disagree with many of the reviews I read – I loved the opportunity to drop in on them all, including Lu-Tze’s and see how they are getting on.
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett is a beguiling read, a belly laughing, smart alec view of England and the world. It meanders with a few random stops but ends up being just right. If you wanted a fast-paced flight you’d read something like Kane & Abel, right? Sit back on a cold winters morning and read this – no ticket necessary.
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