Terry Prachett – Going Postal (revisited)

We’ve now reached the stage in the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon where the books are recent enough for me to have already mentioned them here. What I’ll be doing from now on is giving you a link to my previous posts, and then going on to write a new post as if the previous one hadn’t happened. I’ll include links to both posts on the ever-growing list.

Here’s what I had to say about Going Postal in 2004.

I’ll now pay no attention to that and give my current take on the book. The amusingly named Moist von Lipwig has had a somewhat profitable career as a conman, forger, and general-purpose taker of things that don’t, strictly speaking, belong to him. He’s generally been able to get away with it, but in Ankh-Morpork, it all catches up with him, and in the person of his current alias of Albert Spangler, he’s sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. Which would have made for a rather short book, as that happens on page 17.

As it happens, he was merely hanged until extremely confused, and finds himself in Lord Vetinari’s office. The Patrician makes him an offer he can’t really refuse. Well, he could, but the consequences of the refusal would be fatal, and having tried that already, he’s not too keen. And so Moist becomes the new Postmaster General, a challenging position given that the Post Office is generally run down, hasn’t actually delivered a letter in years, and seen as pointless now that the Clacks[1] network has grown and become more sophisticated.

Moist starts off seeing this as an opportunity to run yet another con and then disappear, but that doesn’t quite work the way he planned, and gradually both he and the Post Office change…

It is, in essence, a story of redemption. It’s also nicely funny, as you might expect. Much fun can be had with the old “spot the reference” game, too, such as the scene where Vetinari introduces Moist to his new guardian (of the make sure he doesn’t run away kind), the golem known as Mr Pump. Moist thinks this is a bluff, he’s quite sure golems aren’t allowed to hurt people. He’s quite insistent about it

Wait! Wait! There’s a rule! A golem mustn’t harm a human being or allow a human being to come to harm!

Which should sound familiar to anyone who’s done the required reading[2].

When Moist takes it upon himself to actually deliver one of the letters that have been piling up in the Post Office for years, he ends up at a greengrocer’s shop, which has just the  kind of sign you might expect:

NO 1 A. PARKER & SON’S
GREENGROCER’S
HIGH CLAS’S FRUIT AND VEGETABLE’S

What’s less expected is that Mr Parker talks like that as well. To avoid making myself twitch too much, I’ll refrain from quoting him.

As the story develops, we learn more about the development of the Clacks, and how the company was effectively stolen from its original designers and owners by a consortium of dodgy businessmen led by Reacher Gilt, who lets you know what kind of chap he really is by means of his eyepatch and shoulder-mounted parrot (who likes to squawk “twelve and a half percent”).

And we meet Adora Bell Dearheart, daughter of the late owner of the Clacks network, founder of the Golem Trust, and generally quite angry. She introduces Moist to a bunch of, err, clackers known as The Smoking Gnu, and a Cunning Plan is forged…

Excellent stuff, but watch out – this one has got actual chapters!

[1] Very clever telegraphy system
[2] And if you haven’t, start here:

One thought on “Terry Prachett – Going Postal (revisited)

  1. Pingback: The Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon | Losing it

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