Disappointing actually. The plot is rather chaotic and for the first time, I found I couldn't relate to the main character. Susan's thoughts and motiv...moreDisappointing actually. The plot is rather chaotic and for the first time, I found I couldn't relate to the main character. Susan's thoughts and motivations are rather unclear and she just doesn't feel lifelike.(less)
**spoiler alert** Quite disappointing actually. I think Terry is being overly preachy in this book, and doesn't leave enough time for the baddies to b...more**spoiler alert** Quite disappointing actually. I think Terry is being overly preachy in this book, and doesn't leave enough time for the baddies to be fleshed out enough so that we hate or fear them. I mean we have like three main antagonists here:
- The New Death (and its backers, the Auditors). So it (he?) has a thing for drama and that's bad, I guess, but how exactly would it be so much more "terrible" and fearsome than Death? Death says so, but we're never given a chance to see for ourselves, as New Death fails to claim even a single soul during its ridiculously short tenure. Something is not right with the writing when you have hardly begun to know the antagonist and he's already a smouldering pile of dust at our hero's feet.
- The Combination Harvester. Really, Terry? You're the very last person I'd expect to use the tired "technology is bad" trope. I know it's supposed to be a sort of metaphor for the mindless-but-efficient harvesting of souls that contrasts with Death's personal approach. But at the same time, it still has a non-metaphorical role in the plot of its own, and it's there that things stop making sense. If there was something bad about harvesting crops 100 times faster, the villagers sure didn't seem to mind, and Terry doesn't explain it either.
- The Mall abomination. This is handled somewhat better, but still falls short of the mark. Somehow using the wizards as an example of what would happen to people caught in the abomination's spell doesn't quite work. They're special characters to begin with, and let's not forget that they were the ones who attacked first. I would rather have expected to see masses of ordinary, 'innocent' Ankh-Morporkers get mesmerized, then cocooned, etc., for me to begin to care about this threat. Also, apparently this thing is supposed to be a sort of predator for cities, but I don't see it eating buildings or doing much property damage at all. It's the same problem again: the antagonist is toast before they can do anything really interesting.
There's also supposed to be a sort of romantic subplot going on somewhere in the background (the two werewolves), but it's addressed so rarely that I can't get myself to give a fuck.(less)
Absolutely magnificent! What with the combination of comedy, social satire, cultural references that still leaves room for touching aspects of romance...moreAbsolutely magnificent! What with the combination of comedy, social satire, cultural references that still leaves room for touching aspects of romance, there is one modern author I am clearly reminded about: Terry Pratchett.
(view spoiler)[One of the things I love most about this book is its sympathetic - and often unexpectedly complex - portrayal of Satan and his retinue of demons. You'd expect them to be cliched one-dimensional icons of evil, yet they are actually the good guys here. Nearly every one of the demons has hidden depths - Fagot and Behemoth, for instance, initially seem like obligate tricksters, yet they become subdued and helpful while they are helping Margaret throughout the ball. And then, near the end of the story, there's the revealing of their true nature. Bulgakov's rather ambiguous wording fills me with questions. Is Woland saying that Fagot was once a human that he kept alive through the ages in the service of Hell as punishment for the sacrilegious jest he once made? If so, now that 'the knight has paid his debt', what will happen to him? Will he go to Heaven, Hell, Limbo, or merely cease to exist? Or has Fagot always been a demon and the guise of the knight is merely a metaphorical representation of his role? Is Behemot also a former human or is he, like Azzazzello, a tireless, eternal representative of an aspect of humanity? (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>(less)