Review: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

Going Postal

Book Thirty-Three of the Discworld Series

Book One of Moist von Lipwig

by Terry Pratchett

Fantasy | 352 Pages | First published by Doubleday in 2004

| Rating |

| TL;DR |

Going Postal tells the tale of Moist von Lipwig – con artist, thief and professional liar. When his innumerable crimes finally catch up with him, he is offered the position of Postmaster General in return for his life, a position which might just be trying to kill him anyway. Tasked with restoring the defunct Ankh-Morpork Post Office, Moist von Lipwig has one chance to prove himself as he goes head to head with Discworld’s biggest corporation.

With Junior Postmen, golems and letters aplenty, Going Postal is a madcap tale that delights in absurdity and is nothing short of a joy to read from beginning to end. Exquisitely written and absurdly funny throughout, the thirty third addition to the Discworld series couldn’t be more highly recommended.

| Synopsis |

Moist von Lipwig is a con artist…

… and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork’s ailing postal service back on its feet.

It’s a tough decision.

The post is a creaking old institution, overshadowed by new technology. But there are people who still believe in it, and Moist must become one of them if he’s going to see that the mail gets through, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, an evil chairman . . . and a midnight killer.

Getting a date with Adora Bell Dearheart would be nice, too.

So perhaps there is a shot at redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who’s prepared to push the envelope . . .

| Review |

Con-artist, swindler and thief – Moist von Lipwig was extremely good at his job, that was until he wasn’t. Arrested and sentenced to death for his innumerable crimes, he no longer has any tricks left up his sleeve.

But as the hangman’s noose tightens around his neck and the world turns black, a new opportunity emerges. Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, will grant Moist a reprieve if he should accomplish a deceptively simple task. As Ankh-Morpork’s new Postmaster General, Moist von Lipwig must restore the Post Office to its rightful position as the preeminent messenger service of the city – a job easier said than done.

The Post Office is a tired, derelict building overflowing with thousands of undelivered letters; his staff amount to one ancient Junior Postman and one Apprentice Postman with an unhealthy obsession for pins; his predecessors have all met untimely and often gruesome deaths; and he must go in direct competition with the business behemoth, The Grand Trunk Semaphore Company

But if anyone can con an entire city into believing he actually knows what he is doing, then Moist von Lipwig can. Aided by his unfortunate staff, an ever watchful golem, and the chain-smoking Adora Belle Dearheart, Moist von Lipwig may just be able to deliver. His life most assuredly depends upon it.

Discworld is ever an analogy for our own world and our own human failings, and Going Postal is no exception. It pokes fun of petty bureaucracy, of unnecessary rules and regulations, and of our inclination towards the absurd. It is a brilliant satire that feels all too British and all too familiar, and acutely demonstrates the genius of Terry Pratchett’s wit and observation.

From pin collectors to stamp collectors to clacks enthusiasts, Going Postal turns the mundane into a bright and witty narrative that becomes ever the more humorous the closer to reality it gets. Refreshing in both its plot and in its delivery, this is a novel that revels in the ridiculous as it takes the reader on a not entirely sane journey through Ankh-Morpork’s establishment.

The city of Ankh-Morpork, its crumbling Post Office and its ever more deficient postal service are described in vivid detail from the perspective of an outsider to the city. And in this somewhat derelict building occupied by the (perhaps quite literal) ghosts of thousands of undelivered letters, Moist von Lipwig more than proves his mettle in a surprising narrative that is laced with phantoms, intrigue and the occasional letter.

The progressive and prosperous clacks towers – something akin to a gargantuan version of Chappe’s Telegraph – thread their way across the city and out to destinations afar, and provide the reader with a sense of the enormity and impossibility of the task at hand. They – the unforgiving Grand Trunk Semaphore Company and their prolific director Reacher Gilt – also play the role of chief adversary in this tale, stirring up long held anger and providing Moist with an unpleasant reflection of his own unsavoury past.

And even if the insanely brilliant plot and richly developed world weren’t enough, Mr. Pratchett suffuses his tale with a myriad of madcap, brilliant characters that more than steal the show throughout. Our protagonist, Moist von Lipwig is a conman, a thief and a liar but he also plays an important role as the eyes – and sometimes the voice – of the reader as he experiences Ankh-Morpork, the Post Office and the strange people who inhabit it.

Supported by the ageing Junior Postman Tolliver Groat, who has a penchant for the Regulations and dangerous home remedies, Apprentice Postman Stanley, who has an unhealthy obsession with pins, and Adora Belle Dearheart, Manager of The Golem Trust, the character of Moist von Lipwig is only made more brilliant, more astute and more likeable by their apparent absurdity.  And the ever watchful and knowing presence of Lord Vetinari, who plays the role of puppet master so deftly and in such an eloquent manner, unashamedly charms with his darkly manipulative character.

Terry Pratchett has a created a flawlessly brilliant novel with a vibrancy and humour that suffuses the narrative from beginning to end. His wit is sharp, his writing is punchy and to the point, and his prose conjures a world of sheer bureaucratic brilliance that both mocks and endears us to The Ankh-Morpork Post Office, and perhaps even our own real-world equivalent.

The thirty-third addition to the Discworld collection is anything but stale, providing a refreshing and brilliantly witty tale that both surprised and captivated me throughout. For fans of Discworld old and new, Going Postal couldn’t come more highly recommended. Never have three hundred odd pages felt so few.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten… Books That Make Me Smile

Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday – a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish, now hosted by ThatArtsyReaderGirl. Expect a new top ten list every week!

| Top Ten… Books That Make Me Smile |

Books can make us smile for many reasons, they can be happy or they can be sad, they can be triumphantly savage or just darn-right hilarious. This week, I’ve broken down my Top Ten into the reasons these books make me smile, from the very first to the very last. And who knows, maybe one day one of these books will make you smile too!

Scroll down for this week’s Top Ten… Authors I’ve Read the Most Books By.heart

| 1. |

The First Book That Made Me Smile

Where’s Spot?

by Eric Hill


I am reliably informed by my mother that nothing would bring me more joy as a baby than Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill. This little beauty even came with a Spot the Dog toy that, by the time I was too old to play with it, was a lovely shade of well loved brown and was for all intents and purposes the family dog. heart

| 2. |

A Book That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Going Postal

Book Thirty-Three of the Discworld Series

by Terry Pratchett


I am almost certain that any Pratchett novel could be inserted under this title and still be relevant. Going Postal was, however, the last Pratchett novel I read and is well deserved of the title of Book That Made Me Laugh Out Loud – as I did, multiple times.


| 3 |

A Book That Made Me Cheer

(For death, mayhem, and bloody destruction)

The Blade Itself

Book One of The First Law

by Joe Abercrombie


There is no other author that brings me joy like Lord Grimdark himself. Witty, exciting, visceral and bloody brilliant; every single one of Joe Abercrombie’s books is a masterpiece that makes me, as a reader, feel inexplicably jubilant. And seeing as it was The Blade Itself that commenced this half-life-long obsession, it was only right that it should find its place on this list. heart

| 4. |

A Book That Brings Me Comfort

The Little White Horse

by Elizabeth Goudge


The Little White Horse is a beautiful children’s novel which captivated me throughout my childhood. Reading (and repeatedly re-reading) an old, yellowed copy of the book which had belonged to my mother, the magical writing and wonderful illustrations whisked me away to Moonacre Manor and has remained a favourite ever since.

My particular favourite illustration was the one shown above which I used to stare at, so very hard, and wish that one day I would have a room just like Maria Merryweather’s.


| 5. |

A Book That Changed My Life

The Lord of the Rings

by J.R.R. Tolkien


And once again Mamma Proxy shows her literary influence! I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was ten years old and it has been read and re-read many, many times since. Those of you who love Tolkien need no description, this book has defined and influenced so many in so many aspects of their life that the only reaction is to smile.


| 6. |

A Book That Made Me Laugh as a Child

The Bartimaeus Trilogy

by Jonathan Stroud


If it wasn’t my mother getting me into all her favourite reads, it was my great uncle researching the latest and greatest in children’s fiction to spend my birthday book vouchers on. The Bartimaeus Trilogy was sarcastic, funny and everything I didn’t know I wanted and more! In fact, I loved it so much that a re-read wouldn’t go amiss. Bravo Uncle Ted, you pulled that one out of the bag.


| 7. |

A Book I Loved as a Teenager

Lion of Senet

Book One of the Second Sons Trilogy

by Jennifer Fallon


As a teenager, The Second Sons Trilogy absolutely blew me away. It was exciting, action packed, with twists and turns a-plenty and, up until that point, had the biggest cast of evil bastards I had ever had the pleasure to read. Slow to start but a joy all round, this series is a YA epic that I wouldn’t be sorry to re-read.


| 8. |

A Book I Should Have Read Much Sooner

The Importance of Being Earnest 

by Oscar Wilde


The Importance of Being Earnest was the first Oscar Wilde book I read and, while I had of course heard of his comedy credentials, it was in fact so much funnier than I expected it to be. Wilde is so witty and so eloquent that every moment spent with this book was pure, unadulterated joy.heart

| 9. |

A Book That Came as a Surprise

Senlin Ascends 

Book One of The Books of Babel

by Josiah Bancroft


Beautifully descriptive with more than a little dose of steampunk and Victoriana, the first in this fantasy series chronicles Thomas Senlin’s momentous and utterly chaotic ascent through the Tower of Babel in search of his misplaced wife Marya. Having not read anything about about this prior to cracking it open, Senlin Ascends came as a thoroughly enjoyable surprise.heart

| 10. |

The Last Book That Made Me Smile

A Closed and Common Orbit

Book Two of the Wayfarers Series

by Becky Chambers


I finished A Closed and Common Orbit yesterday… and it was absolutely amazing! As I read the final paragraphs I had tears in my eyes, my heart was soaring and I was so goddamn happy. This book – nay, this series! – is so very highly recommended. If you haven’t already, add it to your TBR!


Which books make you smile?

If you would like to join in with Top Ten Tuesday, head on over to ThatArtsyReaderGirl and sign up!

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The Friday Face-Off: At the end of every light, is a tunnel of darkness.

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme here at Books by Proxy. Join me every Friday as I pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe. Check out Lynn’s-Books for upcoming themes!

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Welcome to the Friday Face-Off!

Having racked my brain for even a hint of tunnel, hole, burrow or mine, it became abundantly clear that this week’s Face-Off was not going to be easy! Luckily I had just finished Going Postal by Terry Pratchett, and you can always count on the myriad of Discworld novels to display one, if not several, of the weekly themes. Enter Raising Steam.

This week we are comparing two very similar covers of Raising Steam, illustrated by artist Paul Kidby; one published by Doubleday in 2013 and the other published by Corgi in 2014. Take a look and see which one is your favourite!

Doubleday | Cover #1

Cover art by Paul Kidby

Corgi | Cover #2

Cover art by Paul Kidby

| The Friday Face-Off: Winner |

While similar in overall style, colour and type, the illustration of these two covers is distinctly different; with the Doubleday cover emphasising a feeling of chaos and speed and the Corgi cover creating a strong focal point as the train emerges triumphant from a plume of steam.

I love the feeling of movement on the Doubleday cover, from the the winding train and the flying axes to the varied and distorted facial expressions of the passengers. This is a cover that delights in emphasising movement. As evocative as this is, however, I find that my eyes can’t quite focus and it loses some of the refinement where the lines have been blurred.

By comparison, the train in the Corgi cover has a powerful presence – lights streaming in the dark, steam rising, a dark and rugged stone wall dominating the backdrop as the train speeds ahead. The composition and darker contrast present in this cover are also much more appealing which is why, despite being a close run thing, it is this week’s winner!

‘Raising Steam’ by Paul Kidby – 2014, Acrylic on Board

Which cover wins your vote this week? Have a cover of your own? – Post the link below!

Amazon | The Book Depository | Goodreads

Next week’s theme is:

Just as it seems.

A cover featuring a person holding an object.

Remember to check Lynn’s Books for upcoming themes

| Links |

Lynn @ Lynn’s Books

Mogsy @ The Bibliosanctum

Steve @ Books and Beyond Reviews

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy

Sarah @ Brainfluff

Brittany @ Perfectly Tolerable

Natasha @ Natrosette

Kristi @ Confessions of a YA Reader

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