Continuing on my quest to read through Terry Pratchett’s marvelous Discworld series (why did I not start before two years ago?!). They are perfect palate cleansers for heavier books or for when I just need a good laugh. I am almost through all the Watch books now (my favourites), and decided to listen to the audiobooks for some of Pratchett’s later ‘industrial revolution’ novels featuring the brilliantly named Moist von Lipwig: Going Postal and Making Money–the latter of which makes this a perfect match for the Money bingo square! (To clarify: I’m reviewing two books, but counting only one of them towards Bingo.)
in Going Postal, Moist von Lipwig is a con artist, and one of the best, but he’s still no match for Lord Havelock Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork. Vetinari saves him from the gallows (literally) and offers him a choice: he can take over the failing post office, or walk out the door (into a dark pit). Moist accepts the challenge with the intention of leaving at the earliest opportunity, but somehow he gets drawn in… The ‘revolution’ here is Moist’s brilliant invention: stamps. (Stamp collectors are definitely involved, except before stamps they had to collect… pins.) Any book with Lord Vetinari in it is a book I am bound to love: this one is wonderful for having Vetinari in a largely antagonistic role (even if it is, as always, for the good of the city). Moist has to avoid: not getting killed by a golem, becoming too much like the losers at the Post Office, evil corporate tech magnates, and not getting too interested in the chain-smoking, sarcastic, and inaptly named Adora Belle Dearheart.
Making Money follows a similar pattern: a reluctant Moist is sucked into a scheme only a con-artist can win. This time, it’s turning around the fortunes of the Ankh Morpork bank. Vetinari is less of an antagonist in this one; here Moist is drawn into the action through the shrewd conniving of an old lady… and a hapless dog, Mr. Fusspot. Moist goes from making paper stamps to making paper money (no surprise there). The true brilliance here is the antagonist, Cosmo Lavish (how does Pratchett come up with such great names?), and his obsession with trying to rival Lord Vetinari. Between every scene with Cosmo and an extended bit where Mr. Fusspot comes across some toys of a different variety than he’s used to, by the end I was laughing fit to burst.
I’ve seen some (rather cruel and sad) comments that Pratchett’s tragic battle with Alzheimers was beginning to show in these books, but I honestly think they are just brilliant. The Watch will always hold the most special place in my heart, but Moist and co. are utterly delightful and the humour is still great. For anyone looking to get into Pratchett for the first time, Guards! Guards! is probably still my top recommendation as a starter, but Going Postal is perhaps even more accessible. There are chapters, for one thing, and for another the narration is more firmly fixed on Moist throughout.
I’m also delighted I listened to these on audiobook. I have been enjoying the older ones read by Nigel Planer very much and was disappointed to hear a new narrator at first. But in fact I prefer Stephen Briggs in many ways–his female voices, for one, are far preferable. I adore Planer’s Fred Colon voice and his Sam Vimes from Guards! Guards!, but his Angua is positively cringeworthy. Brigg’s rendition of Adora Belle Dearheart, however, was much more enjoyable to listen to (and not what you would expect from the character’s name). I also love his performance of the golem Mr. Pump’s “Mister Leep-weeg”.