Book Review: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

This is my 200th book review, and there is no fitting one to write it from than Monstrous Regiment because it is an odd Discworld novel, yet, brilliant. It doesn’t feel like a Discworld book until the last pages. Before that, the tone is more serious, more coherent, and raw somehow. This is a story about the silliness of war and what it does to the people and the country. However, that is just a backdrop for Polly and the other members of the company who have suffered through hell to get where they are. Wazzer Goom especially. And she and Polly are the salt of the book. Polly’s naivety (she grows and a lot during the book,) her determination, her brilliance, and her kindness makes her a compelling and relatable character. But Wazzer’s and Tonker’s suffering, what they have to have put up with in the past, is so dark and painful compared to anything else Pratchett has written. What has happened to Wazzer and Tonker Pratchett leaves for the reader to piece together, but the hint is there, reminding us how sacred bodies and minds are. The story is heartbreaking.

The first time around reading, I was too caught with the book’s war efforts to notice the real story happening: the misery women have to endure in the name of religion and customs (and power and circumstances,) especially those who have been less fortunate with their entry into this world. No one should ever be hit, tortured, or their ego shattered into pieces just because it can be done. The cruelty we can inflict on others continues to baffle me despite reading studies after studies done of the matter. But I guess distancing oneself of the actual deeds help, but here in this book, we see that is not the case. People are willing to break someone’s psyche for power and just because they are dirty little ***. That is the thing. How easily and quickly we judge others. Oh well, it is so easy to hide behind the words “in the name of justice/righteousness/holy.” How we let such sentences blind us even with small infringements. She crossed by path, what a ***. Sigh, maybe someday we will learn.

Back when I first read this book, I had a love-hate relationship with it. Monstrous Regiment can be tiring to read with its slow start and because it is missing the usual jovial tone of Pratchett’s writing, yet I couldn’t help but to love the serious topic. Now, I didn’t mind it not being like the other Discworld novels; I was all in with Polly’s growth and how she had to learn what the world is actually like both to other human beings and to her if she was she. But I do get the complaints about this book, that it is slow and not as funny. It is just that. I cannot argue back. But Polly is a character worth to break the usual bulletproof pattern. I would be sad if there was a world where she didn’t exist.

Thank you for reading, have a marvelous day! Be cruelty-free, please.

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