**spoiler alert** Of the many (many, many) story arcs that occur on the Discworld, Moist von Lipwig isn’t one of my particular favorites. Not that I h**spoiler alert** Of the many (many, many) story arcs that occur on the Discworld, Moist von Lipwig isn’t one of my particular favorites. Not that I hate the Moist books or even dislike them, but they’re not the ones I tend to go back to the most. (The Lancre witches and Death books are my favorite series. The Rincewind books are probably my least favorite—again, I don’t hate any of the Discworld books, but I have the hardest time getting into those.) With the Moist books, it feels like there’s so much set up to the book before the plot actually gets going. And that makes sense, given the Moist books are the closer satires to the real world than most of the other books in the series.
Like in here—the bulk of the first quarter of the book is dedicated more to Dick Simnel’s steam engine and the growing discontent in the dwarven community, before the action finally gets Moist von Lipwig involved. I think that the slow build-up helps the book. Much of the plot deals with the fallouts from The Fifth Elephant and Thud!, so a lot of the details before we get to Vetinari’s bringing the steam engine (and Ankh-Morpork, and by extension, the Discworld) into the new century.
I really like that over the course of the last few books, the culture and society of Ankh-Morpork has changed, and we see the effects of this reaching out towards the rest of the Discworld. And I like that there’s been a good gap of time between Raising Steam and Thud! because the cultural conflict feels more realistic and natural—it’s been touched on in the intervening books, but things have been given time to percolate and boil over to the point where the grags are going to get violent. (view spoiler)[And while the ending of the book feels a little too nice and neat, I do really like that this ends with Rhys Rhysson shattering one of the biggest dwarf taboos and revealing her gender to the world at large. (hide spoiler)] I think that this book has done a better job with the underlying theme of acceptance than Unseen Academicals or Snuff did—we see how the goblins have been integrated into society, and how the more established races deal with the goblins’ presence.
Raising Steam feels much larger in scope than any of the other books in the series. I think that this is the first book where the plot overreaches several years rather than a quick few months of action, and really spans the whole of the Discworld. We’ve seen other cities and spent long months in-book travelling to them, but this is the first where we really feel the distance and scope of the entire world. But it makes sense, as this is a book all about interconnectivity and how it’s needed to move the world into the modern century. As Vetinari says, “If it is time for the steam engine to come, then let it come.”
(Can I mention the sheer number of callbacks and shout outs in this book? Plot developments aside, this book is made for a drinking game with the number of things to pick out for fans. My personal favorite is Adora Belle mentioning that one of the Lancre witches bums coffee off the Lancre clacksmen “particularly if they’re young.” Oh, GYTHA. <3)
And it’s also reflected in how the characters have changed throughout the books, particularly Moist. It does seem a little boring when we finally catch up to him, and he’s settled down in his two jobs, and now married to Adora Belle and we’re expecting the swindling bastard to show up. But given that Vetinari knows everything (probably even my own feelings about this book), it’s only a matter of time before Moist is up to his old tricks. And even though things are on the up-and-up, Moist is still Moist, and he manages to pull off miracles in the face of the sheer impossible.
I also like that, instead of continually introducing new characters per book, Pratchett’s been delving more into the background characters and really expanding them. Like with Harry King, who’s popped up a few times, but we’ve never really gotten to know him beyond being the King of the Golden River. He made for a good foil to Moist, and I really liked of their scenes together. And I do like Dick Simnel—he’s a decent enough character, and I liked his development throughout the story. (It’s also nice to have a regular human character not driven to madness by harnessing advanced technology.)
I know that I haven’t liked Terry Pratchett’s more recent work, and I don’t want to be the person who wants him to only write Discworld until the inevitable occurs. (I do like Pratchett’s non-Discworld books, I do! I just really didn’t like The Long Earth duo, and there’s going to be a third one and I’m conflicted about it.) I think that Raising Steam is more of a return to form for Pratchett, and that he successfully pulls off updating his world without shoehorning in technology for the sake of modernization. It’s really well handled, and I think this has been well worth the wait. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Huzzah, this year’s Discworld book is out and I have read it! The Night Watch cycle isn’t in my top favorites in the series (those would be the WitcheHuzzah, this year’s Discworld book is out and I have read it! The Night Watch cycle isn’t in my top favorites in the series (those would be the Witches of Lancre and Death), but starting with Men at Arms, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the set.
What works extremely well is that Vimes is out of his element and there’s little involvement with the rest of the Ankh-Morpork Watch. Which I liked, not only does it put Vimes into a situation wherein he needs to send a member out to do some investigating, but he gets to go back and do coppering on his own. (Not that the AM Watch doesn’t get involved in the mystery, they’re just not AS involved.) There’s always been a sense of class warfare in the later Night Watch books, so having Vimes deal with those prejudices in the much-slower-to-adapt countryside, particularly with the tenants of his land, was interesting than the usual “Ankh-Morpork aristocrats dealing in dirty business.” (More on that below.) (Also, the Pride and Prejudice parody of Sibyl’s friends was brilliant.)
While I liked the main plot of the triangle trade and getting further into Discworld’s tolerance levels, I had some trouble adjusting to the goblin plotline. I liked their inclusion, I liked learning about their culture and it’s noticeably different from any number of the races that have appeared prior. But the whole subplot with Felicity Beedle instructing the goblins about the aboveground world felt a little too close to Nutt’s backstory from Unseen Academicals. It doesn’t help that goblins and orcs are described as being somewhat similar in physiology, and there’s the same prejudice of “Well, something THAT horrible and nasty can’t possibly be cultured!” If Snuff had come before Unseen Academicals, I think I wouldn’t have had this problem. (I don’t remember if goblins have shown up before—it’s a plot point in here, that there’s no goblin tunnels in Ankh-Morpork, but I don’t remember if they’ve popped up beforehand.) That said though, I did like the triangle trade plot. It was interesting, it kept me guessing on how things were going to turn out in the end. I also liked Colon’s attachment to the goblin jar—Cheery even says in the book that his attitude to non-human species needs a firm readjustment, and I did like his character development.
Wilikins had great development in this. Thud! mentioned his street gang past, and I loved seeing his methods of ‘dealing’ with unscrupulous individuals. On the other hand, I would have liked more characterization and motivation for Stratford, aside from the money. Having murderous psychopaths is all well and fine, but there’s a large amount of them on the Discworld. I would have liked to have seen more of the bartender and his backstory, and I really liked Feeney and Jefferson. Part of me wants a spin-off series. I also loved the down scenes with Young Sam and Vimes—there was a little of this in Thud!, but it’s nice to see Vimes take time out of his day to spend with his son, even if the majority of their activities are poo-related. And, also, Vetinari losing his shit over the crossword puzzle compiler is WIN.
Overall, it’s decent entry in the series, definitely a step forward to Vimes, but it’s not quite jumped into my absolute favorite pile. ...more