Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Rating: 3 & ½ Stars

Pratchett weaves a tangled web. Not only does each novel have interwoven plots, but each fresh book picks up the threads of ideas and characters from his preceding works. Like much of Discworld it is messy, chaotic, yet with an underlying unity of vision.

Moist Von Lipwig, former conman, who first made his appearance in ‘Going Postal’, has despite his reluctance had ever further eminence thrust upon him by the Patrician of Ankh Morpork – Lord Vetinari. Lipwig is now officially in charge of the Bank, the Post Office, and the Mint. It only stands to Vetinari’s reason that he should also take on the responsibility of Discworld’s latest invention – the Steam Engine.

Pratchett thereby continues the theme of the evolving history of Discworld, and Ankh Morpork, in particular. 

We’re now a long way from the investigations of the species-diverse Watch, and the eldrich antics of the Wizards and Witches. What he has in his sights is an economy in tumultuous growth, say, akin to the industrialization of Victorian England, but at hyper speed. The burgeoning of one industry inevitably leads to the mushrooming of several others.

If nothing is as unstoppable as an idea whose time has come, the world borne by the Giant Turtle is being engulfed by a tsunami of new ideas, bringing together people, species, and cultures as never before. No surprise then that there are those who fiercely resist the changing times. The Grags, the ‘deep down Dwarfs’ are the ultra-orthodox of Dwarfdom, many of whom strive to keep others chained to the same darkness in which they have imprisoned themselves. Peace on DW hinges on quelling the discontent metastasizing in the Dwarf community.

It hinges therefore on men and women of good will and intention who are even more single-mindedly undeterred from their purpose than their adversaries. Thankfully they’re never in short supply in Pratchett’s books.

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