Terry Pratchett: Making Money (Discworld #36) (review)

terry_pratchett_making_moneyDiscworld is a funny and very creative fantasy series written by Terry Pratchett. He has written some 40+ books in the series, all taking place on a flat disc floating in space on the backs of 4 elephants standing on the back of a huge turtle who swims through space. While being set in this fantasy world, Pratchett’s books comment on this world, our world. There are several story lines in this universe – the wizards, the witches, the watch, Death and more. This book is about Moist von Lipwig, a former conman whom we previously met in ‘Going Postal’.

As a Discworld fan, you know that things can’t go wrong when a book involves Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari and Moist von Lipwig. von Lipwig has the worst (or best) name and we’ve only had one book about him before, Going Postal, which I really liked. In that book, von Lipwig was saved from the gallows by Lord Vetinari who saw some potential in him. In Going Postal, he was given the task of saving the postal service and ended up re-inventing the whole system. When we meet up with him again in this one, he is bored out of his mind (not literally, although that could easily be the case in a Discworld novel). So he is breaking into his own office, climbing walls and picking locks to try to get some excitement in life.
Of course, Vetinari knows this. Vetinari knows everything. So he decides to introduce von Lipwig to Mrs Lavish, the lady in charge of the Royal Mint and the bank – and to the chair dog.
And luckily he does so (well, I’m not all that sure that Vetinari believes in luck), because shortly after this, Mrs Lavish dies – and her last will puts von Lipwig in charge of the bank and the Mint. As von Lipwig previously introduced stamps, he now sets out to introduce paper money because gold is a bit old-fashioned and not really necessary for modern banking. This of course does not go smoothly. Change never does. In this case, one of the issues is that the only artist clever enough to make the art for the new money, is about to be hanged – after von Lipwig himself has testified against him previously. Now, a hanging is not anything that stops anyone in Ankh-Morpork so this is just a minor incovenience that has to be dealt with.
The continuing struggle with the Lavishes, the owners of the bank, as well as Mr Bent, the Chief Cashier, who always dresses in black, never smiles, and is extremely good with numbers, is the main issues von Lipwig has to overcome; that, and Lord Vetinari who of course will not allow anyone to get too much power in his city. And when von Lipwig’s girlfriend suddenly shows up with a army of goblins, only von Lipwig can control, serious trouble arise!
In some ways, the plots of Discworld novels is only an excuse for Terry Pratchett to get to play with language. I simply adore reading the creative uses of language, he puts into the text every chance he gets. Writings like this: ‘I know exactly what you never said. You refrained from saying it very loudly.’ (p. 124) and ‘He’d reached the point where he was so wet that he should be approaching dryness from the other end.’ (p. 214) and ‘The only reason that her words came out at the speed of sound was that she couldn’t make them go any faster.’ (p. 314). Oh, and of course this one which reminds me of a quote from Doctor Who: ‘That is a very graphic analogy which aids understanding wonderfully while being, strictly speaking, wrong in every possible way.’ (p. 266)
I really liked this novel even though it was not quite as good as Going Postal – probably in part because it is somewhat the same story. But still, the additions of the chair dog Mr Fusspot and his very special rubber toy, Lord Vetinari and his crossword puzzles, the Department of Post-Mortem Communication at Unseen University, the Lavish family in it’s entirety and especially Cosmo and his Vetinari obsession, make this it’s own novel, quite capable of standing on it’s own two feet. And I’m definitely looking forward to Raising Taxes, the third von Lipwig novel, when that is published at some point.

Oh, and in the basement of the bank, there is something like this. Except the Discworld version is run by an Igor. And it isn’t just a model.

  • Title: Making Money (Discworld #36)
  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Publisher:Corgi Books
  • Year: 2008 (original 2007)
  • Pages: 480 pages
  • Source: Own Collection
  • Stars: 4 stars out of 5

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If you like Terry Pratchett, you might also like Neil Gaiman and China Miéville! Both have a way of writing that reminds me of Pratchett as well as somewhat similar ideas and themes.

Discworld: Terry Pratchett: Unseen Academicals (review)

Discworld is a funny and very creative fantasy series created by Terry Pratchett. He has written some 40 books in the series, all taking place on a flat disc floating in space on the backs of 4 elephants standing on the back of a huge turtle who swims through space. While being set in this fantasy world, Pratchett’s books comment on this world, our world. There are several story lines in this universe – the wizards, the witches, the watch, Death and more. This book is about the wizards.

The wizards have never exactly been sporty. Or fit. They’ve never participated in any team activities that involved athleticism or if they did, they were always the fat looser kid picked last. Dead last. So imagine how they feel when they discover that to make sure a sum of money keeps coming into the university, they have to play football. But well, when the money is part of the food money, of course they step up.

Especially because Archchancellor Ridcully and Lord Vetinari are teaming up together to make it happen.

Now, the wizards don’t just start playing the kind of football that is being played in the streets where a man who has scored 4 goals, is a hero – or where the spectators are happy whenever they get a chance to see the ball. So the wizards set out to create a new version of football, a game with rules and a referee, a game with goal keepers and a real ball that goes gloing.

Besides that, Lord Vetinari has got a guy named Nutt a job at the university – he’s a candle dripper (yes, of course the wizards have candle drippers). But he’s more than a candle dripper. Only thing is that he doesn’t quite know what he is. But when Lord Vetinari is involved, you know things aren’t always straight-forward.

And on top of this, Pratchett gives his own version of Romeo and Juliet in this book. Of course, Pratchett’s Romeo and Juliet have far bigger problems than just their families being against them – their issue is they support different football teams…!

Oh, and when Pratchett in the end gets to the big game – it’s amazing!

What I love about Discworld is that after so many books, it has become such a well-carved out universe that while each book  is readable on it’s own, you really get a lot out of having read at least some of the others. Pratchett has main characters from other books in the series show up for brief appearances. We get a brief visit from Death, we speak to Vines from the Watch, Moist von Lipwig covers the football match and of course there’s a brief appearance by Rincwind and the Luggage. This makes the world real because these are the people who would show up in those circumstances.

But what I love even more than to get the feeling that this is actually a real world, is the humor which is present on every page in the book. I always write down a lot of quotes when reading these books. For instance on the first page in the book, there’s this perfect quote about Lord Vetinari: Technically, the city of Ankh-Morpork is a Tyranny, which is not always the same thing as a monarchy, and in fact even the post of Tyrant has been somewhat redefined by the incumbent Lord Vetinari, as the only form of democracy that works. Everyone is entitled to vote, unless disqualified by reason of age or not being Lord Vetinari. (p. 13) or this quote about the relationship between women and men: The right tone from a woman with her arms folded always bounces an answer out of an unprepared man before he has time to think, and even before he has time to think up a lie. (p. 299)

I’ll end up with this quote that perfectly sums up, the wizards’ role in society – or maybe everyone powerful’s role. At least their role as Ponder, the main administrator, sees it: We can do practically anything, but we can’t change people’s minds. We can’t magic them sensible. Believe me, if it were possible to do that, we would have done it a long time ago. We can stop people fighting by magic and then what do we do? We have to go on using magic to stop them fighting. We have to go on using magic to stop them being stupid. And where does all that end? So we make certain that it doesn’t begin. That’s why the university is here. That’s what we do. We have to sit around not doing things because of the hundreds of times in the past it’s been proved that once you get beyond the abracadabra, hey presto, changing-the-pigeons-into-ping-pong-balls style of magic you start getting more problems than you’ve solved. It was bad enough finding ping pong balls nesting in the attics. (p. 428)

  • Title: Unseen Academicals (Discworld # 37)
  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Publisher: Corgi Books
  • Year: 2010 (originally 2009)
  • Pages: 540 pages
  • Stars: 5 stars out of 5