Pros: Plenty of humour, puns and wild situations and characters.
Cons: Took me some time to figure out everyone.
Terry Pratchett is one of those authors that I have been avoiding for a long time now. It's not of lack of interest, I just find that taking on the massive task of wading through all of the Discworld novels -- nearly forty have been published now -- a rather daunting proposition.
As the story opens, Moist von Lipswig is in a bit of trouble. Moist, whose favourite hobby is seeing how effortlessly he can separate people from their money, and then getting away with it. Naturally, this is bound to create some difficulties, and now Moist is facing the worst possible situation -- a date with the hangman's noose.
He manages to face the drop and knowing that he is about to die, but then suddenly finds himself sitting in a chair, facing the benevolent dictator of the city of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, who is about to make him an offer he just can't refuse -- a government job.
Comes with its own apartment, a generous stipend, and some prestige -- namely, the job of Postmaster General of Ankh-Morpork. It's a plum assignment. Of course, Moist, being the person that he is, decides to leave town as quickly as possible -- but then he didn't count on a golem to be sent after him either.
Golems don't ever stop. Ever. Give them a task, and they will do it, without complaint. They also don't stop, take breaks (save for one day a week), or can be negotiated with. This particular one, known as Mr. Pump, is particularly committed. As Moist finds out to his regret, and with a heavy heart, takes on the job of Postmaster.
The building is falling apart, has squatters on the roof, only two employees -- Groat and Stanley -- and it's overflowing with mail. Old mail. Very old mail. And a sorting machine that has been programmed to think that pi is 3. Just 3. And Mr. Tiddles, the resident cat.
Clearly there is more to being Postmaster than meets the eye...
This was my first time reading a Discworld novel, and I was surprised to find out how much I enjoyed it. It's funny, twisted, more than a little bit demented, and for those who can handle outrageousness, it's a hoot. It's also a not-so-subtle commentary on our world today, with all of its technological marvels, runaway corporations and out and out greed. It's the satire that I really enjoyed with this one.
And the characters. Moist is a fast thinking, fast talking con man who just might go straight. There's Adora Belle Dearheart, the young lady who is prickly as all get out, and proves the usefulness of a stiletto heel in a discussion, and who runs the local 'Rent-A-Golem' shop. Mr. Tiddles reminds me quite a bit of some cats I have known. There are the networks of clacks, a semaphore system that has made mail obsolete and the man who has the monopoly on it. And finally, the mailmen themselves, whom we meet in a hilarious, send up of Freemasonry.
The writing is very quickly paced, full of sly jokes and puns, and can be easily taken in an evening. Another aspect that I really liked were the drawings of Ankh-Morporkian stamps that illustrate the beginning of each chapter that are quite convincing. And of course, the characters, who are very distinct and vivid, not to mention all of the various denizens of Ankh-Morpork itself.
In addition to the narrative itself, there is an excerpt from another of the Discworld novels, Thud!, which give a bit of a hint as to what is coming up next.
Summing up, this was a very fine, four star read. While this was the first Terry Pratchett novel that I have read, I suspect that it won't be the last.
Other Discworld novels that I've read:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
Thief of Time
Going Postal -- you are here
Going Postal: A Discworld Novel
2004; HarperCollinsPublishers, Inc.