Raising Steam, by Terry Pratchett

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Discworld fantasy, published in 2013, available from Amazon.

I was so saddened, a few years back, to learn that Terry Pratchett had developed Alzheimer’s Syndrome. I assumed that would be the end of the Discworld, of which there was so much more still to explore. It’s great to be able to report that I was wrong! “Raising Steam” is the best fun read I’ve had in a while – absurdly complicated subplots, witty word plays, and fully three-dimensional characters, And yes, as always, there’s playful satire so it carries a wee bit of a message – enough to tweak the reader’s attention without burdening one too heavily. (No apologies here for intellectual laziness. Sometimes one just wants a chuckle.)

This installment from the Discworld takes us first to Sto Lat, where we meet bashfully obsessive young Dick Simnel, his slide rule, and the gleamingly beautiful Iron Girder. Then on to Ankh Morpork, where Lord Vetinari offers Moist von Lipwig a choice: add another hat to those he already wears – responsibility for the new railway, in addition to charge of the Royal Bank, the Mint, and the Post Office – or lose the head you wear your hats on. The story quickly builds up a head of steam and takes the reader on a twisting track that takes in rebel dwarfs, mechanically inspired goblins, talking golem horses, conspiracies and coups, politics and even the occasional hint of romance.

Just a taste…

“When it came to looks the Quirm goblins seemed exactly the same as the ones over the border in Ankh-Morpork. However, unlike the Ankh-Morpork goblins, the Quirmian goblins were dressed in a way that could only be called snazzy. They had a certain panache unavailable to their Ankh-Morpork brethren, and a whiff about them of what was probably eau de snail. Admittedly, the materials on show were effectively the same – bits of animal skin or indeed the animals themselves, birds, feathers – all embellished with sparkling stones. It was as if goblins had discovered taxidermy, but hadn’t quite got the important, nay, essential point of scooping out the messy bits first. But trust Quirm goblins to make their own haute couture.”

Seriously, how can one not just love such icky imagery? Makes me want to go back to the beginning of the series and work my way through it again, just for the sheer pleasure of watching his world take shape.

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About Belladonna Took

Into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, at constant risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic. A wife, a mom, a daughter and sister, kind of a grandma. Until recently a full-time dog rescuer, now more concerned with rescuing myself. User of dog hair as accessory, decor and garnish. Technical writer, strategic thinker, occasional entrepreneur. Voiceless poet and storyteller. Born again Christ-follower and former missionary schoolteacher chewing on some uncomfortable questions. Ignorer of rules, challenger of assumptions, believer in miracles. Skeptical libertarian, equal opportunity despiser of politicians and assholes. Gonnabe gardener, wannabe beekeeper, Monsanto-hating tree-hugger. Morbidly obese chocaholic, with a horse I don't ride because I might break him, and if not he would probably break me.

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