BooksOfTheMoon

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)

By Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3 stars

The railway has come to the Discworld, and Lord Vetinari is determined to make it work for Ankh-Morpork, so he puts Moist von Lipwig in charge, and you don’t want to upset the Patrician, do you? One important thing to note is that this book has major callbacks to both Thud! and Snuff; which is a problem for me because it’s been many years since I read the former, and I’ve not read the latter at all. Still, with the help of the Internet I was able to paper over the cracks and make a decent stab at this.

Also, the politics are hardly subtle, really. Pratchett really gets out the mallet to hammer home the idea that no matter our size, shape and colour, we’re all just people, and those who think otherwise are deluding themselves. The message is a good one, but I feel it could have been delivered better. The plot thread with the deep dwarves also only felt tangentially related to the one about the trains, with the railway to Uberwald having to be completed in time to get the Low King home. Beyond that, the two strands were pretty separate.

The idea of the railway coming to the Disc also felt underused and almost crowbarred in. It didn’t feel as natural as the Post Office, or even the Royal Mint (although I did like the callback to Reaper Man, which is one of my favourite Discworld books). Moist was mostly around to deal with problems that the railway faced, without really being able to do much of his famous fast talking and double dealing. And I felt that Adora Belle Dearheart was criminally underused. Dick Simnel, the engineer with the Great Idea, is quite two-dimensional. We don’t get into his head much and his greatest attribute seems to be being from t’Yorkshire.

I was somewhat confused by the scene between Archchancellor Ridcully and Lu Tze. It seemed to be there, just to get in a couple of well-liked characters. I don’t feel that the scene added anything to the story that we didn’t also get elsewhere in the book.

I started reading Discworld in the early to mid period, when there were sparkling ideas on every page, and belly laughs as often. I don’t think this book made me laugh (well, snort) out loud until after page 100. I know that the style of the books changed as Pratchett got older (not to mention, the embuggerance) but humour has always been a hallmark of the Discworld, and these later books have done little for me because of its lack.

So a Worthy book with a good heart, but muddled and a bit preachy.

Book details

ISBN: 9780552170468
Publisher: Corgi
Year of publication: 2013

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