Book Review: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

raising steam #discworldTo the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork – a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all 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.

Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work – as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital… but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don’t always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse…

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. Moist 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…

This is number 40 in the discworld series and we’re back in Ankh-Morpork, with the the usual suspects, and the tension betweens the humans, trolls, dwarves continues with the added complication of goblens. Once again the Dwarf state is in shards, each faction splintering into smaller pieces as soon as two or more have a disagreement, and there is an attempt to overthrown the Low King, who appears to be too progressive. Meanwhile, Mister Simnel has found out how to harness steam, and the railway is not far behind, with impetus to have a track to Uberworld to resolve the Dwarf Question.

This has everyone in it (even DEATH gets a one-liner) and could be viewed as the start of Practhett’s handover of the world to Rosanna before he becomes unable to continue. With so many presiously established characters making an appearance, it’s certain that some favourites will not get the exposure that some people want. It could be seen as perhaps too-crowded with characters, and could one or more of them have been dropped without anyone noticing? I dont know.

Anyway, story covers change, factionism, new technology, religious doctrine, feminism, being true to ones self, bigotry, racisim, in such a way to still make it enjoyable to read. Plus plenty of footnotes. Whilst we still have him, Pratchett’s at least working at his best here.


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