Terry Pratchett


Publication year: 1996
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2007
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 334
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Lord Vetinari has been poisoned and it’s up to the City Watch to find out who did it. It looks like the Patrician might not make it and there is a cabal of “upstanding citizens” who want to resurrect the monarchy (again).

Also, someone has murdered two old men who apparently lived humble lives and didn’t have any enemies and the Assassins’ Guild deny any involvement. One of the men was a curator in a museum devoted to dwarfish baking used in fights. Of course, Carrot knew him and was a regular visitor in the museum.

The guard also gets a forensics expert, an alchemist whose job it is to experiment with all unknown substances found at crime scenes and find out what they are. The expert is a dwarf, Cheery Littlebottom, which is pretty unusual, but it turns out that the dwarf is a woman and she wants to do more feminine things than are allowed among dwarfs. This confuses Captain Carrot because in dwarfish culture, men and women dress the same and behave the same. However, Cheery strikes up a friendship with Angua without knowing that she’s a werewolf. When Cheery adds more feminine things to her outfit, we find out that a few of the other dwarven constables are also women, they just haven’t drawn any attention to it. Apparently, among dwarfs is indecent to show ankles.

However, the more serious parts of the book concentrate on the golems. They aren’t considered to be alive so they are used as slave labor which can work all the time and don’t have to be paid. And yet, a lot of people think they are creepy and know that they are up to no good. Vimes also muses about people who obey the law and who don’t, and about rich and poor people. He’s trying to adjust to life as a rich man and being miserable.

This is another enjoyable Discworld book. I particularly enjoyed the breads, cakes, and cupcakes used for fighting and the vampire who works in various normal, but hazardous to him, jobs. Oh, and poor Vimes is plagued by his new organizer. And of course everyone likes Carrot.

Quotes:
“And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got you invited to the very best social occasions.”

“It was Carrot who’d suggested to the Patrician that hardened criminals should be given the chance to “serve the community” by redecorating the homes of the elderly, lending a new terror to old age and, given Ankh-Morpork’s crime rate, leading to at least one old lady having her front room wallpapered so many times in six months that now she could only get in sideways.”

“You are in favour of the common people?” said Dragon mildly.
The common people?” said Vimes. “They’re nothing special. They’re no different from the rich and powerful except they’ve got no money or power. But the law should be there to balance things up a bit. So I suppose I’ve got to be on their side.”

“Dwarfs regard baking as part of the art of warfare. When they make rock cakes, no simile is intended.”

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Publication year: 1993
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2008
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 328
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

The Ankh-Morpok City Guard, Night Watch, is again in trouble. The Patrician has told them to get new recruits from the City’s minorities. So now they have three new, and eager, Lance-Constables: Cuddy (a male dwarf), Detritus (a male troll), and Angua (a human woman and a werewolf, but apparently her being a woman is the minority part). Cuddy and Detritus bicker constantly and we find out some interesting things about troll brains. Carrot, Nobby, and Colon are trying their best to train the newbies while Captain Vimes is about to be married and then he will retire from the Guard. He’s absolutely miserable about it.

Meanwhile Edward d’Eath has read long and hard of the City’s history and found out something interesting. He’s a royalist and he would very much want to return the royal heir to Ankh-Morpok’s throne. He’s found a candidate for that, too: Corporal Carrot Ironfoundersson. Sadly for him, Edward doesn’t manage to convince his fellow nobles about it so he starts to plot.

An explosion at the Assassin’s Guild draws Vimes’ attention but the Guild leader, Dr. Cruces, denies that anything has really happened. Then the Guard find a dead dwarf with a hole in his chest in the river and the Patrician himself makes it clear to Vimes that the dwarf’s death and the robbery from the Assassin’s Guild should not be investigated. Of course, Vimes does exactly the opposite, just as Lord Vetinari knew he would.

The new recruits are really the stars of the book along with Carrot. Detritus and Cuddy start as pretty much enemies but end up bonding because of the job. Carrot is apparently instantly attracted to Angua, and she to him, and he tries to court her in his own way. Of course, Angua hasn’t told Carrot that she’s a werewolf and she’s really insecure about it. Unfortunately, while this romance is a bit different than a usual fantasy romance, it really wasn’t my favorite about the book.

Also, Gaspode the talking dog steals pretty much every scene he’s in. Also, we get introduced to the rather vicious homeless dogs on the city’s streets. To me, Gaspode feels like a rogue with a heart of gold.

As usual, Pratchett has strong themes in the book: racism (or rather specieism since Discworld has different species) and the way that power corrupts. Near the start there’s a hilarious, or chilling, depending, scene where Vimes talks to several of the city’s nobles. One of them manages to talk about the dwarfs as both too hard working and lazy bums who have both too small heads to think at all and are simultaneously fiendishly clever. I also always feel sorry for the poor clowns whenever they are mentioned.

“Cuddy had only been a guard for a few days, but already he had absorbed one important and basic fact: it is almost impossible for anyone to be in a street without breaking the law.”

“Young Edward thinks that there is no lake of blood too big to wade through to put a rightful king on a throne, no deed too base in defence of a crown. A romantic, in fact.”

The first of the City Watch books.

Publication year: 1989
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2001
Format: print
Finnish translator: Maija Sinkkonen
Page count: 334
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Ankh-Morpork’s City Guard is in a bad way; Captain Vimes has only two underlings and he drinks constantly. It’s not wonder when criminals are doing their criminal work legally and all the three watchmen are allowed to do is ring their bell and call that everything is alright.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Carrot Ironfoundersson doesn’t know that. He was raised by dwarfs but on his sixteenth birthday he’s told that he wasn’t born a dwarf but was found as a child from the woods. Carrot’s parents have decided that it would be better for Carrot to return to his kind. They write to the Patrician of Ankh-Morpok to ask that Carrot be allowed to join the illustrious City Guard. He’s accepted. Carrot is used to doing what he’s told and even though he’s sad to leave the only life he’s known so far, he heads towards Ankh-Morpok, reading his book of the city’s laws so that he could be well prepared. After he arrests the leader of the Thieves Guild, Captain Vimes tries to make him more adapted to the life in the city.

Meanwhile, the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night wants to take over the city, to repay all slights (real or imagined) to the members. Their Supreme Grand Master is sometimes almost baffled by the stupidity of the others. Still, they are determined to summon a dragon to burn the city down so that the King of Ankh-Morpok would come, slay the dragon, and make the city more just. The Supreme Grand Master even has a suitable man for the job. To their own astonishment, they succeed. However, things don’t go quite the way that the secret brotherhood wanted.

The City Guard has quite interesting characters. Captain Vimes is cynical and very depressed about his job and life. Sergeant Colon is “one of nature’s sergeants”; he tries to avoid all exertion but is dependable. He’s married and his wife works during the day and Colon works nights. This is said to be the reason for their happiness. Corporeal “Nobby” Nobbs is very untidy and about as tall as a dwarf. He smokes constantly and there’s a veritable graveyard of tobacco stumps behind his ear. He and Colon have strange discussions which are sometimes philosophical. All of these three know that they are considered scum of the city. Carrot is completely different, not only in looks, since he’s over six feet tall and muscular, but also in attitude. Carrot’s enthusiasm and naivete inspires Captain Vimes in the end when it’s up to the City Guard to protect their city.

Lady Sybil Ramkin is a significant secondary character. She’s one of the high old nobility and very eccentric (I think she’s gentle parody of the British aristocracy). She breeds swamp dragons and the dragons are pretty much everything to her. Still, when things get tough, she’s quite level-headed and sensible. And in defiance to the fantasy traditions of small and young and delicate little princesses, Lady Ramkin is big, fat, middle-aged, and tends to wear rubber boots.

Along the way Pratchett makes wry observations about dwarven culture, the nature of libraries, and the nature of humans. Oh and the discussions near the end about how one chance in a million will always succeed is priceless!

One of my favorite Discworld books.

“People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, “Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else.””

“Thunder rolled. … It rolled a six.”

“The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.”

“If there was anything that depressed him more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn’t as cynical as real life.”

Publication year: 1990
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2003
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 147
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Something strange is happening throughout Discworld. Something or someone invisible is running through Ankh-Morpork and where he goes, nothing is unchanged. Even Death notices it in his home and the wizards of the Unseen University are desperate enough to summon Death. Apparently, the cause is Rincewind who is trapped in another plane of existence. It’s a million to one chance that he will ever get out. So, of course, he does.

Rincewind notices that he’s been summoned to a demon summoning circle and the teenaged demonologist, Eric, refuses to believe that Rincewind is nothing else than a demon. Fortunately, Eric believes that Rincewind is a rather less than powerful demon but he still insists that Rincewind fulfills his three requests: to be the ruler of the world, to meet the most beautiful woman in the world, and to live forever. Rincewinds snaps his fingers to show that he can’t do that – and their adventure through different times and places begins.

Once again, Rincewind’s philosophy of running away serves him well. He, Eric, and Eric’s talkative parrot run away from various threats and people who want to hurt them for various reasons. The wizard’s Luggage follows them loyally and saves them a couple of times.

Rincewind, Eric, and the parrot first arrive to the Tezumen empire in the jungles of Klatch. The empire is a satire of the Aztec empire with their bloodthirsty priests. Hell’s current king Astfgl also takes notice of the duo and he isn’t pleased.

Unfortunately, I don’t really care for Rincewind and the young demonologist got on my nerves a few times, but I enjoyed all the rest, especially the parody of a certain classical history city. We also get to see both the beginning and the ending of the Discworld.

For some reason, I was expecting this to be the story of the man who takes over from Death but apparently that’s Mort, not Eric. Overall, an entertaining story but not any of the best Discworld books.

Publication year: 1988
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Celia Imrie
Running Time: 10 hrs and 27 minutes

The tiny kingdom of Lancre has three witches: Gytha ”Nanny” Ogg, Esmeralda ”Granny” Weatherwax, and the young Magrat Garlick. Granny is one of the most experienced witches alive and ”most highly regarded of the leaders, of [whom the witches] don’t have”. She’s grouchy and doesn’t have any family. She’ also very powerful but prefers to use headology rather than magic. She doesn’t approve of much. In contrast, Nanny has a large family and she rules them ruthlessly. She’s more easygoing and Granny’s best friend. Magrat is a new witch who is trying very hard to impress the other witches. She even suggested that they should form a coven. She believes in crystals and other New Age stuff, to the other witches’ annoyance.

On a dark and stormy night, a man appears and gives them an infant and a crown. Even the witches have heard that their king has died. A bit later, a group of soldiers come to threaten the witches for the child. The witches don’t give in and instead most of the men flee. The witches decide to hide the kid and what would be a better place than group of traveling actors? The witches see the show (a first time for both Granny and Nanny) and in the end give the kid to the childless actors. The witches even give the kid three gifts, fairy godmother style. Little Tomjohn’s childhood is interesting, to say the least.

Meanwhile, in the castle, king Verence’s ghost is trying to get used to being dead. Apparently, his cousin Duke Felmet and his ambitious and determined wife have killed him and taken over the small land, and it’s Verence’s destiny to haunt the castle until his heir takes it back. Verence’s mood isn’t lifted when he finds out that the castle is haunted by a variety of the earlier owners, some of the Verence’s ancestors.

Duke Felmet is actually not happy with the situation. He’s haunted by what he has done and is trapped in a loveless marriage. He blames the trees. There are a lot of trees in Lancre.

Felmet has a new fool who is quite a tragic figure. His past is pretty horrible in the awful school for fools. He also didn’t choose his profession; his grandfather just made him continue the family tradition.

Obviously, MacBeth has inspired this book. There’s also a Hamlet-like ghost. Hwel, the dwarven script writer for the troupe, channels Shakespeare and tries out various wordings.

There’s a lot of things going on in the book. According to Granny and the Fool words are dangerous things because they can change how people view things and remember the past, no matter what really happened. Pratchett explores this through the actors and the Fool.

“The past is what people remember, and memories are words. Who knows how a king behaved a thousand years ago? There is only recollection, and stories.” the Fool

“Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things. Well-known fact.” Granny Weatherwax

One of my favorite Discworld books!

This is the first time I’ve listened a Pratchett book and I really enjoyed Imrie’s reading. She has individual voices to all witches and most of the supporting cast, too. Death has a very echoy voice and I would swear that he has a male voice but there’s no mention of a male voice actor.

Publication year: 1992
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2007
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 314
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Lords and Ladies features many returning characters but it can be read without any prior knowledge about them. The three witches and the people of Lancre have been seen before in Equal Rites, Wyrd Sisters, and Witches Abroad. In fact, the book starts with the witches returning from Witches Abroad. Also, wizards from previous wizards books appear. And Death makes a brief cameo.

While the witches were away, a group of young women wanted to become the witches of the tiny kingdom of Lancre and they started doing what they thought they should do: painting their nails black and dancing nude in the middle of the forest. Unfortunately, they danced in the wrong place and unleashed an old danger which everyone had forgotten. The real witches, Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, are in a fight of their lives.

Magrat and Verence have been dating for a while, and when Magrat returns to Lance, Verence announces that they are going to get married. Magrat is a little taken aback and a bit sorry that there wasn’t a romantic proposal. Verence has been the king of Lancre for only a short time and he’s determined that everything will be done the Proper Way, for royalty. Apparently, that means that the king just decides everything and everyone else just have to accept it. It doesn’t help that Verence seems to be more interested in agriculture and pig raising than their wedding. However, the invitations have been sent and even the Unseen University is sending four representatives: the Archcancellor himself, the Librarian, Ponder Stibbons, and the Burser. On the way, they stumble upon the dwarf Casanunda, the second greatest lover in Discworld.

The wedding is going to take place in the Midsummer day and Verence has orderd a play just for the occasion. The local Morris dancers are busy trying to memorize it and practice it but aren’t doing too well.

The book features no less than three possible romances, lots of misunderstandings, and people not talking to each other even though just five minutes honest talk would probably clear up most of the misunderstandings. I generally don’t care for such misunderstandings but Pratchett manages to write them well, just for comedic effect but in-character, too.

As usual, underneath the comedy, Prachett discusses about serious issues. This time it’s the way that what people believe makes them almost blind to how things are; the nature of reality and thought/belief and how they affect each other.

Inspired by the Midsummer Night’s Dream and probably various glittering versions of elves.

Publication year: 2004
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2012
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 398
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Going Postal focuses on the Ankh-Morpork Post Office. Underneath the witty dialog, snappy characters, and humorous situations, it also deals with the business practices of big businesses who don’t give a crap about anything but money. The main character is a con man who loves to manipulate and con other people but he thinks that they deserve it, so there’s also the theme of conning and the power of words. Moist thinks that the adage “you can’t con an honest man” is true because most people are more than willing to take advantage of other people, and therefore aren’t honest.

Moist von Lipwig, alias Albert Spangler, is waiting for his death. He’s been convicted of fraud and various other crimes to be hanged. And he was.

Except not quite. Ankh-Morpork’s Patrician Vetinari has a job for him and so Moist can choose between becoming the new Postmaster General or dying for real. Most chooses to live and promptly rides out of the city. Unfortunately for Moist, he now has a parole officer, a golem called Mr. Pump. The golem carries Moist, and his hapless horse, back to the city. So begins Moist von Lipwig’s new, if somewhat reluctant, career in leading the run down Post Office. The office still has two loyal employees, Junior Postman Tolliver Grout, who doesn’t trust modern medicine and uses instead folk remedies which he makes himself, and Postman Trainee Stanley who is obsessed about collecting pins. Grout is actually very near, if not over, the age of retirement.

The Post Office hasn’t been able to actually deliver mail in twenty years and the mail has just accumulated to such an extent that it’s dangerous to try to clear it. It’s also full of pigeons and their crap. Messages are being delivered with clacks these days, run by the Grand Trunk Company, so Moist has his work cut out for him.

Moist is a con man and a show man, and once it has been made clear that he can’t just run away, he puts all of his considerable ingenuity into getting the Post Office up and running again. He won’t shrink from any ploy, no matter how underhanded.

He’s surrounded by a group of highly peculiar characters who make for very entertaining reading. Stanley’s obsession with pins leads Moist to go to a pin selling shop, which is one of my favorite scenes. Some of the former stagecoach men have taken over that side of the business (“Horses have to eat, you know!”) and aren’t too happy to see Moist. Then there are the golems, hardworking and honest to a fault. The Patrician is also very interested what Moist does and as are the local newspapers.

The unscrupulous Reacher Guilt is the head of the Grand Trunk Company and he doesn’t want the Post Office to succeed.

A highly enjoyable Discworld read.

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