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I have to admit I wasn't always a Pratchett fan - I heard the gasps.... But it is true. The first book I tried to read was an older disc world novel, and I still feel that they are more difficult to read than much of his newer, or more light hearted stuff.
~~~~Spoiler Alert Warning~~~~
In many of his books Pratchett likes to take something very 'normal' and puts the most interesting and clever spin on it to make it just a little bit more Morporkian... Enter the postal service - the building itself is still standing, however all it's filled with are meaningless nods to the regulations, Junior Postman Groat, his apprentice Stanley (also a pin enthusiast), oh and the unsent letters...
This is where Albert Spangler comes in - while he is incarcerated in Ankh-Morpork prison he is applauded for his determination while he tries to tunnel out using only a spoon. He even gets to meet the hangman, and when he wakes up, Moist Von Lipwig meets an angel (or a tyrant depending who you ask)...
This angel - also known as Havelock Vetinari - (Patrician of Ankh- Morpork) offered Moist the choice of two doors. One holds the prospect of freedom, and the second means that Moist has accepted the position of Post Master General... Moist being the lover of life that he is chooses door number two...
Pratchett has used this book to introduce new characters to the reader, and as always we fall in love with them. Moist Von Lipwig, being the accomplished con man that he is, is rather on the sleazy side, but you can't help but love him... He leaves the Patricians office with a golem security detail, as well as a big bunch of keys.
Although Moist is against taking up the position at first, after realizing that golem's don't sleep and that they take tracking duties seriously he is forced to accept that he may have to see it through to the end. After accepting that he's going to have to finish what he's started he makes the mistake of delivering a letter 40 years late - the rest of the letters start speaking to him. They need to be read to fulfill their destinies, and he has begun moving the mail again...
Throughout the book Moist comes up against many obstacles, mostly thrown at him by the breaking down illegally obtained Grand Truck Semaphore Company. An endeavor that The Patrician relies upon heavily to ensure that he can continue his long distance game of Thud! The head of the company is Reacher Gilt, an eye patch wearing, parrot owning con artist that Moist is in awe of while simultaneously detesting his methods.
Moist uses all the skills he has at his disposal to reinvent the post service, as well as get the girl...
I love this book - it's one that I revisit time, and again... Pratchett has written about both loved and new characters making you fall in love with them... His usual brand of quirky is here in bucket loads, a well as his acid wit, and clever spins on the mundane.
It's an easily accessible book for full on Pratchett fans, as well as those new to his work - there is nothing that the reader needs to know about before plunging into this book - although he does refer to other aspects of his work, this isn't done in a way that would confuse people who didn't know about them...
I'd highly recommend this book, as it does work as a great way to be introduced to the Disc world, as well as a great revisit for those of us who have holidayed there before....
5 stars from me, and only because I can't give it ten!!!!!!!
ISBN ~ 0-552-14943-8
Published by Corgi
Going Postal is the twenty-ninth book in Terry Pratchett's now hugely celebrated and incredibly popular series of novels set in the fantastically odd Discworld - the world, as flat as a ... well, disc, on the shoulders of four huge elephants who ride on the shell of the Star Turtle - Great A'Tuin.
This one introduces the character of Moist Von Lipwig, a full time con artist who, after being thrown in jail one day, realises this is the end, At the gallows, and after some spectacular last word "I commend my soul, to any god who can find it!" he dies.
But then, he is visited by an angel. In the form of Lord Vetinari, Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, who tells him he isn't dead, and has been offered another chance at a new life. Start running the Post Office again, or be killed.
Moist reluctantly takes the job, under supervision of his Parole Officer (who is a never sleeping Golem) and finds it to be much harder than he expected, what with the years of undelivered mail, the heavy staff shortage (total count of two), and especially with heavy competition from the Clacks (the Discworld Morse code system), lead by the undoubtedly evil Reacher Gilt, but after some ingenious ideas (like idea of introducing stamps) it all starts to run smoothly. He even meets a girl he sort of likes.
But Reacher Gilt isn't going down without a fight. Can Moist make an honest man out of himself and save the Post Office before everything goes up in smoke?
Going Postal is a nice refreshing book in the series. I felt that during the last couple, the ideas had gone a bit stale, especially with the strange turn to the quite dull Borogravia in Monstrous Regiment, but now we're back in Ankh-Morpork, there are some nice reccuring characters in the background and we've been introduced to a new character who's actually really interesting.
Although Moist might seem to be a bit of a sleaze at first (and he is), we really get to see him develop into someone else and by the end of it, there's been a remarkable change of character. Vetinari plays a pretty decent second role and has a lot more time in the novel than he normally did, which is pretty nice because he's always been a favourite of mine. there are also some cameos by the Watch and the Wizards.
Going Postal is strange because it's divided into chapters. Maybe that's what makes it so well paced, as only a few Discworld books have really been divided before in chapters, so it's quite an interesting turn. I still don't know why he did it, but it works really well for the book.
All in all Going Postal is a fantastic return to form after a somewhat slow and strange Monstrous Regiment. Well worth a read
Going Postal was the 33rd Discworld novel released in the series. It was published in 2004.
Currently Sky are turning this into a two part TV adaptation and I can't tell you just how excited I am about it! This will be the 3rd adaptation Sky have undertaken, from the Discworld series - the other two being the Hogfather and The Colour of Magic.
Moist Von Lipwig is a serial con artist who is extremely good at it, and altogether too clever. Until he is caught and due to get hanged.
The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork (Lord Vetinari) gives him the choice of rescuing the city's dying postal service or...um...death.
It actually turns out to be a tough decision as Vetinari is not one for offering a nice easy way out.
Moist takes up the offer and soon realises the sheer scale of his new job.
He also has to contend with an acidic but alluring journalist whose name makes you think one thing - Adora Belle Dearheart - but her tongue soon puts you straight. That's assuming you aren't blinded from the constant stream of smoke.
Vetinari pokes his nose in, some people are suspicious and Moist soon realises death may well have been the better option.
Now that is a fairly short overview that probably does nothing close to justice, but I really don't want to ruin it for anyone and I would urge everyone to read this.
The beauty of Terry Pratchett is that whilst his Discworld books are a series, you can really read them without reading others previously. You get a better background by reading them in order, but it's not essential.
The genius of Terry Pratchett is his writing style and characters. Never before reading his books, had I actually laughed out loud (no, not LOL'd!) when reading.
This book had been smiling, smirking, grinning, giggling, laughing and oh alright, lol'ing.
The book flows along at a nifty pace, the right amount of enviromental descriptions, the characters developing and Moist's mind still being a mystery.
Moist has since become my favourite Discword character, beating Lord Vetinari into second place (I never thought I would think a tyrant was so cool).
Going Postal was my favourite Discworld novel, however I think it is now on a par with 'Making Money', another Moist Von Lipwig one.
For anyone new to Terry Pratchett, either pick one which you think might enjoy or if you want to start the whole series, start with the Colour of Magic.
You can find a full bibliography on Terry Pratchett's own site, or on Wikipedia.
Going Postal can be bought on Amazon for £5.99 currently. An absolute bargain in my mind.
I'm off to read it again now.
I have all of Tery Pratchett's books, some of them, it has to be said, are better than others depending on your tastes. Going Postal, for me, is up there with the best of them.
Set once again in the city of Ahnk Morpork on the Disc World, Going Postal is the first of two tales, so far, involving ex criminal hustler and con man Moist Von Lipwig.
In a similar vein to recent other Ahnk Morpork based novels Going Postal once again pushes at the boundaries of the conventional fantasy background introducing a very real world Post Office beset by problems caused by the latest new technology, the Clacks, the post office is run down, under staffed, under funded and living on faded glories of bygone days.
In drops Moist and his alter ego Albert Spangler. The dropping in is quite litteral in this case as Albert/Moist starts the book in the condemned cells a short time before he is due to be executed for crimes against the city.
The Patrician executes Albert by hanging him but resurects Moist Von Lipwig and makes him an offer he can't refuse.
What follows is a look at how people want to be fooled by a man in a shiny suit even when said man is upfront about how he is fooling them.
With a side swipe at stamp collectors and other fanatics, before stamps they collected and obsessed about pins, the book revolves around how Moist, by the skin of his teeth and the luck of the gods, sets about making the postal service a success.
As a side plot there is the love story between Moist and feminist chain smoking Golem Rights activist Adora-Belle whom Moist affectionately nick names Spike.
How Moist defeats the powers behind the money loving murderous owners of the Clacks company makes for a good romp in an Ahnk Morpork that is evolving into a strange mix of Industrial Revolutionary ideals and coporations and the standard fantasy offerings. It's an odd mix but it works because of the love and depth that Pratchett bestows upon his characters. Moist is a complex character, the bad guys are evil doers without being two dimensional and the humour shines through.
I highly recomend this book to any Pratchett fan or anyone looking for a good easy read to take on holiday or while away a boring trip somewhere.
Review of 'Going Postal' a novel by Terry Pratchett
This review is based on the paperback version of the book, ISBN 0-552-14943-8, 474 pages, cover price £7.99.
About The Book
Going Postal is the 29th Disc World novel from the pen of popular fantasy author Terry Pratchett.
I read many of Pratchett's novel some years ago and enjoyed them very much. They are an acquired taste, Disc World novels draw the reader into a world populated by dwarves, vampires, trolls and werewolves. The humans are all too human in the Disc World and Pratchett manages to take the characteristics of basic human nature and weave the more ridiculous and amusing elements into his stories. The human invariably have daft names and they portray humans in all their glory, fickle, greedy, jealous and infinitely fallible!
The story line covers the fates of Moist Von Lipwig. He is con-artist, fraudster, cad and bounder, he is due to be executed but is offered a reprieve by the Patrician of the Disc World's capital city Ankh-Morpork. His life will be spared if he takes up the position of Postmaster General and steer the Post-Office back to the glory days of yesteryear. The only staff Moist Von Lipwig has to help him are a rather elderly Junior Postman who is obsessed with natural healing and an unstable orphan who was raised in a field by peas and has an obsession for pins.
Moist finds the Post office in a state of disarray, bird droppings, cobwebs and a air of despondency hang over the once great Post Office premises. Previous postmasters have tried and failed to re-vamp the service, some met with unfortunate endings such as being swamped by undelivered mail, others fell to their death from the unstable building.
Moist is designated a kind of probation officer in the shape of Mr Pump, a troll, who takes his duties very seriously as he follows Moist into adventures and the resurrection of the Postal Service.
Moist's endeavours are thwarted by the owners of the new communications system, the 'Clacks' and he despairs of ever achieving his goal, a new and modern Postal Service for Ankh-Morpork.
As with many Pratchett books the plot is actually made up of side stories which cleverly become a tale of life in a make believe world.
I won't say more here for fear of spoiling the novel for other readers.
I could go on and on about this author but I will resist the temptation!
Terry Pratchett was born on 28th April 1948 in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire. He is a tireless campaigner for research into Alzhiemer's disease. Terry released a press statement in 2007 to inform the public that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early on set Alzhiemer's disease.
For further information about Terry Pratchett and his works visit his website at www.terrypratchett.co.uk
Terry Pratchett's novels are not everyone's cup of tea, however he is an extremely popular author who was included in the 2009 New Years honours list for 'services to literature'. Well done, Sir Terry Pratchett.
Availability and Cost
The cover price on my copy is £7.99. The novel is available from www.amazon.co.uk for £4.99 new and from 0.50p used.
My Thoughts and Conclusion
This novel is definitely an acquired taste. Pratchett fans will love it and I'd recommend the book to anyone who enjoys Terry Pratchett's unique blend of psychology and humour, I must admit that I found some of his earlier books far more amusing than the later novels, but that said do not let this put you off 'Going Postal'. It is interesting to note that since 'going Postal' was published a whole new set of Disc World stamps were issued, a major marketing success for the author.
Thank you for reading
©Brittle1906 August 2009
NB My reviews can also be found on other review sites under the same user name, brittle1906
This book is hilariously funny. I view this as one of Terry Pratchett's best novels. In this book we follow the unfortunate life of the master thief 'Moist Von Lipwig' or one of his other many names.
We follow him through his supposed death and then his introduction into being the 'Postmaster'. He finds Lord Vetinari's proposal hard to accept to begin with and simply attempts to escape the city but when he finds out that there is a Golem after him who doesn't need to eat, sleep or drink he soon discovers that it is just easier to go with Lord Vetinari's Wishes. But the Post office isn't quite what he was expecting and he has a much harder job than he though ahead of him.
This book really did grab hold of me and just would not let go. There was an amazing amount of detail put into the book and Terry Pratchett really is the King of descriptive writing in my opinion as every little detail put into the book made it just feel like you were actually there.
If you have never read a Terry Pratchett book before then this is where to start as it is very interesting and the humour is quite understandable unlike some of Terry Pratchett's other novels.
In my own opinion this is the best book that Terry Pratchett has ever written and it really is an amazing tribute to himself. If you ever need a book to laugh at or calm down with then this really is the one for you!
Given a brief synopsis this book doesn't sound at all promising - a plain man is placed in charge of the postal system and, with the aid of a golden suit and winged hat, manages to turn it around.
However (at the risk of sounding like a M&S advert), this isn't any ordinary postal system, this is a Terry Pratchett Discworld postal system!
Albert Spangler is a very dodgy man - he is the kind of man who always has a scam on the go and has never done an honest days work in his life. If you saw a Granny for sale for a quick buck, you could be sure that she was Albert's Granny. Despite all of this Albert is a very nondescript man, the kind of man with such plain, ordinary features that you could have a long conversation with him and 10 minutes later completely forget what he looked like.
However, Albert's luck has run out. He has been caught scamming and sentenced to death......
Or so he thought!
Ankh-Morpork's postal system has hit the skids and is desperate need of assistance. Overtaken by the quicker, more efficient Clacks system nobody is now using the post office. At the moment of hanging Albert is rescued from the gallows by Lord Vettinari and given the opportunity of a last chance under the new identity Moist Von Lipwig - the only condition to this offer is that he takes a new job as head of the postal system, a position which reports directly to Vettinari, and turns their luck around.
What follows is a wonderful story involving the faith inspired in a golden suit and winged hat, huge gingerbread man-type characters and their chief supporter, an unlovable character who gets tied up in a most unlikely (but bizarrely heart warming) love story.
This book was initially leant to me by my Mother in Law and I absolutely loved it from start to finish. It has started what I'm sure will be a long term love affair with Pratchett's books and I am now always looking to pick up copies of his other books.
I would highly recommend this book to absolutely everyone, particularly those of us who enjoy light hearted stories and as it is now available online for around £5 it is well worth getting a copy.
In the last couple of months I have been going a little crazy for Pratchett, in part to try and discover just what his attraction is and why I keep wanting to go back to this author when so many people I know do not find his work funny in the slightest. This seems a little harsh to say the least, as although he has written so very okay books, one or two really stand out as works of pure greatness that leave me, at any rate, laughing all the way to the libary....
Thank god then that GOING POSTAL falls into the latter category as I could do with some cheering up!!
In life Moist Van Lupwig was a scoundrel, a con merchant and a crook who never used his real name from the moment he could talk. Hanged publically when the law finally catches up with him, Moist considers his life to be over untill that is Lord Ventari offers him a second chance and a proposal....reserrect the ailing postal service of Discworld and bring the Semaphore Towers, that currently pass messages, to their knees. Or be killed a second time and this time for real-what a choice, so much to consider....
The problem is that the Postal Service hasn't run properly for years, the main Post Office is chock full of undelivered mail and in a state of dissarray and of the only remaining postal staff- one is addicted to collecting pins and the other is a decrepit, old-timer who is determined that any re-opening of the Post Office respects all of the old tradditions.
And then there is the fact that there is a lot of money to be made (somewhere) in the Semaphore Towers even if they do keep breaking down every other day and those in charge of them are more than just a little determined to see off the competition....
Once again, Pratchett has created some truly wonderful characters including the race known as Igors whose sole purpose is to act as servants and assistants to their tyrannical and often eccentric masters. Even Moist Van Lupwig manages to redeem himself in the eyes of the reader as we find his whole personality undergoing a change the moment he begins to take this new endeavor he has been given seriously- it is truly amusing to see how many of his old skills soon come in to play as he battles to restore Discworld's Postal Service to its former glory and there are no end of subtle nods in the direction of our own Postal Service existing in our own world.
This is where Pratchett comes into his own- making ever so slight comparisons to our own world though there are times (THE LAST CONTINENT for example) where this doesn't always work, 9 times out of 10 it does- providing us with a very funny piece of escape into another world not really quite so removed from our own as other people might think.
Once again Pratchett has written a book that long time fans and newcomers can enjoy and, as with many but not all of his novels, you could easily dip into this if you have never dipped into Pratchett before. In fact this is probably a lot better than some of his earlier novels and newcomers to Pratchett might be better advised avoiding some of those untill, like me now, they have warmed to Pratchett as a brilliant writer of comic fantasy.
It is just a shame that not more of his novels are as well written as this one, or maybe they are and I have yet to discover the others.
I'm still a relative newcomer myself but much more of this and I could be easily persuaded to become a more regular visitor to Discworld...
My Father in law is a postman, so it's a surprise that I've only just read Terry Pratchett's "Going Postal" but it probably added a whole extra dimension of funny to the book that I've just read in a weekend. Yep, it's that good.
Albert Spangler was a thief, a swindler and an all round con-man. He hanged to within an inch of his life. Then he woke up and he was Moist Van Lipwig, Postmaster general of Ankh Morpork's Post office. When he arrives for his first day of work he is greeted by graffiti, vandalism, a huge building stuffed full of undelivered mail, a cat, a Mr Groat (and his smell) and a Stanley, complete with Pin collecting obsession. He began to wish he'd stayed hanged. However, with the aid of a band of Golem's , the old post office families and the Smoking Gnu, Moist Von Lipwig not only gets the postal service moving again, he challenges the new fangled Clacks towers at every turn. The post will get through!
Pratchett's novels of late have been a bit hit and miss. "The Truth" completely missed the spot where as "The Thief of Time" and "Night Watch" were a joy to read. It feels to me like he is now such a famous author that he is expected to churn out books on demand and therefore his soul isn't in every one of them. Pratchett's soul is in "Going Postal."
His writing style is very easy going. He has a very rare talent in that he can make you feel really connected with the characters in his book without writing in first person to do it. Also you find yourself relating to werewolves, tyrants, swindlers and golems, not just heroes of the piece. I think the golems are one of his masterworks. He's used them in "Feet of clay." and re-introduces them here. They're clay figures with writing in their heads that makes them go. They've been used for dull, boring jobs for years and they have no concept of time. It's amazing how he brings personality to a whole race of beings that are not sure what it is to own a personality.
You don't bump into many well known Discworld characters in this book, a few wizards a mention for Mrs Cake and a few moments with the watch and that's it. I didn't miss them though, I was too busy warming to these new characters. However, there wasn't as much Death as I'd like, he's my favourite Pratchett character.
The pace of the action is not quick, the plot not immediately recognisable, yet Pratchett does not fall into the trap that Robert Jordan does, he actually tells a story that is packed with happenings. You want to carry on reading. I love the way he splits this work into chapters and at the beginning of each one gives a brief summary of what you will find therein. It encouraged me on several occasions to read just one chapter more avid book fans know exactly what that means!
I found it very hard to put this book down. It is compelling. It's all about the under dog and I, like many Britons, love an under dog. Pratchett's big villain of the piece is a big company that gets what it wants by cheating, lying and killing those who get in it's way. At times his humour becomes satirical, and everything written has political under and overtones, which are not difficult to miss.
He pokes fun at modern day life using the dark -age like Discworld. I especially like his translation of E-mail on the Disc, the Clacks are massive semaphore towers that send messages the world over. He even has people that are addicted to making the clacks work, just like the computer geeks we all know and love. I believe no other author is as adept at doing this as Pratchett himself.
There are pretenders to the throne, but the authors I think of keep there feet in the real world, Robert Rankin and Tom Holt, for example. Piers Anthony is the only other author I can think of who comes close to Pratchett in translating real world issues into fantasy world farce.
If you love Pratchett, the post office or you are just a fan of the under dog, then read this book, you'll love it. Paperback copies start at 50p on eBay(remember that posting and packaging will bump up the price a bit) and £3.99 at Amazon.co.uk. It's not a lot for a really, really good read.
I've been reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for over ten years now, though of late I've got a little behind - with Terry still writing at quite a rate, and demands of university limiting my time (the last thing I want when I leave the library is another book!)
It was only at Christmas that I acquired 'Going Postal', the 29th instalment in the series (first published October 2004) - Santa no doubt encouraged by the price of just £3.99 on Amazon at the time (cover RRP £6.99 paperback)
The city of Ankh-Morpork evidently had letters (e.g. Carrot writing home back in 'Guards! Guards!') so it stood to reason it also had a postal service. What with the recent invention of the 'clacks' machines, however, the post office is in much the same state as the city watch used to be - reduced to a mere skeleton staff, and with a bigger backlog of undelivered letters than my 'to read' pile.
'Going Postal' centres around one man's mission to change all that. The unlikely-named Moist von Lipwig is a former conman given a life or death choice by Lord Vetinari. He's to take over the role of postmaster, and restore the mail to something rivalling the clacks.
I won't go into a lengthy introduction to Pratchett's writing, the Discworld or Ankh-Morpork. IF you're reading this review not knowing anything about any of that, then all you really need to know is that this book is the 29th in a series, and not a good place for newcomers to start (though admittedly, perhaps not the worst, since it stars new rather than recurring characters). The first in the series is 'The Colour of Magic', though as another (in some ways better) starting place I'd recommend 'Guards! Guards!'
As I said, 'Going Postal' doesn't centre around familiar faces like Rincewind, Carrot or Granny Weatherwax, but it is very much something that builds on what's come before. There's little basic introduction to the world of the Disc or Ankh-Morpork, rather knowledge is assumed - and all the more so when we meet characters like Lord Vetinari, Arch-chancellor Ridcully, Carrot, Sergeant Colon and so on (in passing). One has to know already about wizards, golems, igors, and the like, for in many ways I thought this book remembered a lot of the Disc's features (Sektober, Okteday, L-space etc) that hadn't seemed so prominent recently, so it's one that may be appreciated by longtime fans.
That said, the writing is very much in the style of more recent novels. There are a combination of humorous throwaway remarks that made me laugh out loud and an overall plot - which parodies boardroom politicis, intrigue, national vs privatised industry and such - that's much darker, but what makes the whole novel work as something to think about. In both cases, I think Pratchett works. There are snide observations about everything from 'big issues' like freedom through political correctness and 'media/PR speak' to little references to the national lottery (p349) and Lord of the Rings (p444). That's when I think Pratchett's at his best, when this totally fantastical world sheds light on our own, because at essence the story's about people, and therefore greed, stupidity and general being humanness (even if sometimes in the shape of a dwarf, undead, etc).
I have sometimes thought that recent books have become a bit stale; since every book tends to introduce something new, there's always a tendency to bring those features back in later novels, such that they become almost over-crowded. Well I've alluded to the presence of many old creatures and features, but thankfully none over-burdened the story. The igors, for example, are rather 'one trick ponies' (two if you count the lithp), but here minimal. Since 'Feet Of Clay', Golems seem to have taken the role of dwarfs etc in the 'are they people too?' stakes, but I think they have a bit more mileage. Essentially clay robots, their origin lies in Jewish myths, but they allow for plenty of sci-fi analogies, not least the power of the words in their head (commandments a la Asimov stories /Robocop).
Best of all is that here the writing seems like Pratchett on form. It took me a little while to get going, but once into it I was hooked. This is probably closest to the 'guards' books, in that it always keeps you guessing what's coming up, what the next move will be. Sure there's some obvious bits, like the love interest, and the Patrician's standard routine rolled out again, but for the most part characterisation was good (though I was a little disappointed with the villain), and for the established fan the little references will have you swept away once again - pausing only to reflect perhaps on similarities to our own world.
It's a pretty tough 4* or 5* call. It's obviously for existing fans, so not something that will make a lot of difference. I'll say five, because - while not perfect - it's definitely better than several other recent Discworld novels.
First of all, I have to say that I'm surprised to see the low ratings of this book on the reviews already here. I admit that it does start off slowly, but it has some wondeful passages in it. Oh well, each to his own! Here's what I think of it:
Going Postal is yet another novel in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. For those of you that have never read a Discworld novel before, the Disc is a place of magic and mayhem, not so unlike our own world. But when elements of our world enter it, the result is usually more mayhem than usual This is one of the novels that really doesn't need a particular knowledge of the series.
Enter the unfortunately named Moist von Lipwig. Moist life is not happy, mainly because theres not much of it left. Despite being a confidence trickster extraordinaire, the authorities eventually caught up with him and hes now contemplating the rather unpleasant prospect of being hanged. However, there is still Hope. Hope, the great blessing or curse of mankind. Hope ducks out of sight as Moist is hanged or at least, Albert Spangler, one of his many non-de-plumes, is hanged. Everyone saw it, so it must be true. But there are ways of hanging a man to within a fraction of an inch of his life, and the trap door underneath can lead to very strange places
Enter an Angel. In this particular instance, the angel takes the extremely unlikely form of Lord Vetinari, the shrewd Patrician, tyrant of Ankh-Morpork and quite possibly the best ruler the city has ever had. He offers Lipwig a choice (there is always a choice) walk through a door with a floor underneath the other side a very long way underneath or take a job. The job is to revive the ailing postal service. A golem by the name of Pump - Mr Pump will be around to see that the new Postmaster stays true to his assignment. Which, after he finds out what happened to the previous four postmasters, he might be inclined not to do
Enter Reacher Gilt, head of the consortium now in charge of the Grand Trunk, who operate the clacks (a system of communication using lights, towers, and other such marvels). Because the consortium are interested only in making money, people have been sacked (let go), maintenance time has been cut or eliminated, and the clacks are not running at all smoothly these days. But Gilt is very cunning, even perhaps a match for Vetinari himself. He is also very interested in making sure that the Post Office fails
Going Postal goes through 3 distinct phases. Phase one lasts about the first two chapters, during which time I thought I would only be giving it a 3 star review. It has glimpses of Pratchetts best writing, but not many, and its a bit slow to be honest. Then phase 2, the next couple of chapters things pick up a bit, the writing improves, but its still not vintage Discworld. At this stage Im thinking maybe 4 stars. But in phase 3 (from chapter 5 onwards), things pick up considerably, the writing is on a par with the best Discworld novels, and the satire bites as deeply as in The Truth, one of the very best Discworld novels. The pace never slackens and it just gets better and better, thus 5 stars, no problem.
One thing that put me off a little at the start was that theres a bit of bad language, not much but its usually a sign of Pratchett being a bit lazy and, therefore, not on form. But theres really not that much and its mainly in two isolated sections. Probably because the plot is quite complicated it takes a while to really get going, but bear with it and youll thoroughly enjoy the ride. The satirical element is taken mainly from corporate culture, though if you have a little understanding of the problems that have affected (and still affect) British Telecom and the Royal Mail over the past couple of decades, theres definitely an extra layer of meaning there. However, the main highlight of this book is the intellectual duelling of three very smart, not very scrupulous men Lipwig, Vetinari, and Gilt. You never know quite who is going to come out on top and, while you strongly suspect that the Patrician (the only character familiar from previous Discworld books) is going to win in the end, there are times when even he doesnt quite know whats going on. The various exchanges between Vetinari and Lipwig are a joy to read. The Golems add a human rights and racial equality theme to the whole thing and are seen in more detail than in any previous Discworld books.
There are many other memorable characters in this book, but mentioning them all here would kind of defeat the purpose of this review. (Quite a few characters from eirlier books make an appearance, but only Vetinari gets a starring role.) If you still dont want to read it, then probably nothing I could say would convince you. Needless to say, already established Discworld fans will love it.
On the notice board outside the Post Office:
DONT ARSK US ABOUT:
troll's with sticks
All sorts of dragons
Huje green things with teeth
Any kinds of black dogs with orange eyebrows
Rains of spaniel's
"You can't do that!" Greenyham protested weakly, but the fire had drained out of hom. Mr Stowley had collapsed on the floor, with his head in his hands.
"Can I not?" said Vetinari. "I am a tyrant. It's what we do."
"It's private property!" Greenyham burst out.
"Tyrant, remember" said Vetinari, almost cheerfully.
For Pratchetts take on:
Newspaper Publishing see ** The Truth **
The Music Industry see ** Soul Music **
Hollywood see ** Moving Pictures **
Going Postal is Terry Pratchetts twenty-ninth novel set on the magical Discworld. This world were trolls, dwarves, vampires and werewolves rub shoulders with humans in polite society bares a bizarre, yet frightening resemblance to our own be it in its racial intolerances or its political structure.
This particular Discworld outing follows the adventures of Moist von Lipwig. This con-artist, fraudster, cad and bounder is due to be executed yet is offered a reprieve by the Patrician of the Discworlds capital city Ankh-Morpork. His life will be spared if he takes up the long retired position of Postmaster General and steer the Post-Office back to the glory days of yesteryear. All Lipwig has to help him is an elderly Junior Postman obsessed with natural healing and an unstable orphan with pin obsession. However, he figures as soon as possible he will flee the city and begin a life anew. Unfortunately for him he does not realise the pull of the Post-Office and a gold, spangly suit.
I approached this novel with some trepidation I have to admit. Surely even Pratchett couldnt make a novel about the Postal service interesting? Fortunately I was wrong. What we often forget is that he excels in taking the institutions of society and constructing a story around it. Pratchett appears to have a dislike for corporations and multi-nationals and this is one of the main focuses in this novel. The Clacks (a Discworld version of e-mail) are the multi-nationals and the Postal Service the underdogs and dont we all love the underdog. Pratchett skilfully exploits this fact throughout as our hero lies, cheats and steals in his battle with Reacher Gilt, the owner of the Clacks service.
The cast of characters in this novel are an intriguing bunch. Being set in the already familiar to many Ankh-Morpork I fully expected this novel to be full of old faces from previous novels. In this way I was both pleased and disappointed. Apart from cameo roles from Archancellor Ridcully, Sacharissa and The Patrician himself this is largely a stand-alone novel.
We are introduced to our protagonist Moist von Lipwig as a lying conman with no morals. Pratchett uses Lipwig as a vehicle to drive the story rather than going into his background. In some ways this makes the bad boy coming good premise a little hard to swallow although this is hidden well by the grey areas the character uses to get the postal service to were he wants it to be. In many ways Pratchett confuses in his use of Lipwig. Is he a hero or anti-hero? I remain undecided as to whether I like him or not and this novel reminds me a lot of Pratchetts The Truth in that I can find little empathy with the central character.
Fortunately, Pratchetts supporting characters are a superb collection of sharp wits and half-wits. Junior Postman Groat is great as the old-fashioned voice of yesterdays Post-Office and Stanley the pin obsessed orphans Little Moments are a joy to behold. Add to that a Golem from before the dawn of time with an ancient letter to deliver and a banshee assassin and you have the mixture for some great sitcom moments.
However, does there always have to be a love interest? Adora Bell Dearheart is characterised superbly as the icy organiser of the Golem Trust so why oh why does she have to fall for the bad guy. Its like an episode of Eastenders for Christs sake!
Pratchett tends to parody the real world in his fictional one and this novel is no exception. Sideswipes at secret societies such as The Masons in the form of The Order of the Post and The Smoking Gnu (bonus points for those who know who that parodies). References to Star Wars can also be found including a parody of Yoda The Unfranked Man must be weighed in the balance. In his parody he also asks the question Do we really want to be truly free or are we happy in the confines society and life gives us? Some may be surprised by the answer.
What this novel is missing for me that stops it becoming one of Pratchetts best is the one liners I am used to. Usually I could reel of quotes left, right and centre to illustrate how funny his novel is but this one isnt. The characters amuse but the plot has no laugh out loud gags found in previous novels.
Being Pratchetts twenty-ninth Discworld I was surprised at the big hoo-ha over Going Postal. I have heard some ranting others raving about this, the latest in the Discworld series and to be honest I was somewhat indifferent to it. As a Discworld fan I was surprisingly slow to get my hands on a copy perhaps due to the postal concept not particularly appealing (and the hefty £17.99 price tag!). The introduction of chapters seems to be a big deal to some but to me added nothing to the novel and if anything stopped it from flowing like some before it. Dont get me wrong this novel is readable and has plenty going on to keep both Pratchett fans and newcomers amused. However, I doubt I will read it again for a good while and that is rare for me. Next time I might wait for the paperback. Readable but quickly forgettable.
Hardback price of £17.99 (although reduced on Amazon)
Terry Pratchett's thirty-third novel. That's quite something. I've loved nearly all of his books, and the sheer quantity of quality he produces buoys up the imperfect ones well. But this one - this is the first one I read that I felt a lot like I'd seen it all before. There's something uninspired here. It contains jokes. It contains warmth and humanity. It has a nifty idea for a main plot. But it doesn't feel fresh at all.
Take the main character. He's a genius of (admittedly fairly petty) crime, a people person extraodinaire, rising manfully to the challenge of restoring the post. Immediately I felt there was a big comparison to, amongst others, the Watch books (Commander Vimes, manfully restoring the Watch - given several books in which to explore fully and satisfyingly every aspect). In fact, our hero, Moist certainly doesn't have much choice in what he does at first, which takes rather a lot of personality out of him. He has an acerbic, practical love interest (who could be Susan Death, or quite a few of his female characters, quite frankly) who serves no other purpose except to be token female and slot neatly into a jaw-droppingly lazy coincidence at the end of the story.
There are also too many themes that are left undeveloped here. The central theme of Big Business ruining the Little People is finely done, but jostles for attention somewhat. It touches on racism and slavery - a risky move that he's pulled off well in asides and footnotes before - but here is unable to make it relevant or touching. The magic of many words in one place is an inspired extension from the Library magic, and yet isn't central at all to the novel, despite some indication in the first half that it would be. Overall there's a pilot-episode feel to this novel, as if someone had tried to shorten a whole series into one feature length introduction. This is particularly odd when you consider that his more standalone novels (ie those that arent part of a definite thread, like the earlier Witch, Wizard and Death novels were) are often his cleverest and funniest work.
The supporting cast of postal staff seem to be tired in every sense - there's the ancient duffer who knows the old secrets and the young fool who can be trained into usefulness. Again, strikingly similar to structures that have been used before in the Discworld. Add to that the feeling that some of the jokes are really shoehorned into place - the Discworld has been steadily becoming more and more a world where things are copied from our World, rather than twisted amusingly. Is this part of some plan for future Discworld books? Perhaps there's an idea that he wishes to use but doesn't fit into the Discworld as it stands yet, and so the Discworld is being given its own version of everything from our world in preparation...
I really can't recommend this book. I want to (because it's not a bad book by any means) but assuming that diehard fans will buy it anyway, I'm writing for people who have never read his work before, and he's done so much better than this. Wait for paperback, or borrow it from the library. Or spend the money on any of his others at random!
Going Postal is the latest release from Terry Pratchett. Being a fan, I was eager to buy this as soon as possible and bought it from Amazon with my vouchers earned from Dooyoo.
Now, fans are allowed to criticise what they love and recently, I have had a few disappointments from Pratchett. I found Night Watch disappointing and The Wee Free Men began well, but trailed off somewhat. Before that, I read Monstrous Regiment and adored it but I really wanted another Pratchett hit.
Going Postal has many good things about it. The main character is one Moist Von Lipwig a conman with a helpfully forgettable face and a long list of aliases. After a rather close brush with execution, Lord Vetinari (Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork) offers Moist a simple choice become the citys new Postmaster or die.
After some deliberation, he chooses to take on the proffered role, but he soon finds out it isnt going to be the easy ride he imagined. For starters, he cant escape. Lord Vetinari has issued him with his own personal Golem who will ensure he behaves appropriately and cant run away.
Resigned to trying out his new job and seeing if he can somehow profit from it, he heads over to the Post Office. Hes in for a shock. The place is in a state of decay. The whole building is full of undelivered mail. All those letters that never got to their destination, all those words that were never read by the intended recipient, all those thoughts and feelings that still want to be heard and wait
The place is also severely understaffed. Old Tolliver Groat far too senior for his Junior Postman title and his young assistant Stanley live there with the cat Tiddles. Groat tries to cure his ailing body with unique treatments while Stanley lives only for his pin collection. They continue to follow the Post Office Regulations, because, well, theyre the rules, arent they?
Technological advances are also piling up against Moist Van Lipwig. Since the Post Office has been shut, the Clacks have taken over - a network of high towers passing messages between them over the sky line. They are faster than the Post, but not without their own problems. They break down regularly, people have lost their jobs, people have died and things have all got rather shady since they were taken over by Reacher Gilt, a man who has a kind of evil arrogance about him, with more than a whiff of dancer. More like a strong stink, in fact.
Moist Van Lipwig is never one to quit without a fight though. He decides to put on a show. He dons a golden suit and performs to his public, soon becoming a regular feature on the front page of the local newspaper and a rising hero to the folk of Ankh-Morpork. May be he can succeed after all? Maybe he will be able to get the Post Office back on track again? Or maybe not
I did enjoy the novel and at times, I read chapters and chapters without stopping. (Oh yes, its the first Pratchett adult novel with CHAPTERS! Woo-hoo!!) Moist is a great character, far from perfect, but warm and you cant help but admire his gall.
The book is full of great characters. Groat and Stanley make a great comic double act and even the love interest Adora Bell Dearheart is brilliantly written, much stronger than a lot of female literary figures and hilariously caustic.
Regular Pratchett readers might be disappointed at the absence of some of the much-loved regulars. The Watch make only brief appearances and theres only one slight brush with Death. Personally, I would have liked more trolls and vampires, but I enjoyed the focus on the Golems and the lovely Igor, as well as my first encounter with a literal screaming banshee.
There are many layers to the story. The link to our modern day Postal Service (both nationalised and privatised) is an obvious one and the Clacks are very similar to emails travelling through the Internet. But deeper still, we explore the corruption and politics behind big businesses and how the little people (the individual workers) often get chewed up and spat out.
At 352 pages, it didnt take me too long to read and the use of chapters certainly helped. It is better than Wee Free Men and Night Watch, in my opinion, but nowhere near as good as Monstrous Regiment or my all-time favourite Pratchett Carpe Jugulum.
I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to all fans of Pratchetts writing. To a casual reader, I would suggest you pick up something else from his Discworld series instead and try this one a few books in.
Going Postal is a jolly good romp with great characterisation, lots going on, plenty of excitement and its unpredictable. Its not great, but its more than adequate.
GOING POSTAL by Terry Pratchett