Books

Book Review: Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

If you had asked at the beginning of my Discworld’s reread journey, what is my favorite Discworld novel (if there can be one) Going Postal wouldn’t have been my top pick. Now I think this is one of the best-written stories Pratchett has written. It is coherent (which was lacking at the earlier books), it has great well-rounded characters with a strong backstory (which has occasionally been missing with other books,) and it has good tension from start to finish. And Ankh-Morpork and Vetinari are at their best with this one. The only thing that the previous novels have done better is the memorable, quotable lines, especially the Death series. That said, my favorite characters are still the witches and Vimes, but we have a history together. They have carried me through some bleak times.

The setting is that Moist von Lipwig is a swindler and has had a pleasant run until he finds himself inside a prison to be hanged. (You cannot outsmart a werewolf.) He is going to get a second chance from Lord Vetinari, but with a cost. He has to bring Ankh-Morpork’s postal system back to life. The only thing is that it has been a fatal task for men before him, and in addition, he will piss off those who own Clacks too. He will have a hard time keeping his second life up and running. 

There is so much I could say about the book. Maybe about the love story between Moist von Lipwig and the particular someone. Or about the parallel to German’s Postal Office history. But what caught my eye was the harsh criticism towards monopolies and loophole policy-making, which enables companies to rob their employees and banks to rob innocent entrepreneurs. Pratchett sends a powerful message with this one: the citizens and the entire society are the ones who pay the price when we let big businesses run wild and grow too big so they have leverage on policies made. But that is not the only warning Pratchett gives. It is for the fact that even the seemingly big and stable companies are run with falsehood without actual cash. They are functional because of magical book-keeping and loan schemes. And if they fail, taxpayers will probably bail them out because they are too big to fail. (Not that anyone in Ankh-Morpork pays taxes.) This was what we saw at the beginning of this century, and we are still feeling those ramifications. And Pratchett wrote this while everything was happening, trying to say to us: open your eyes and see how the world is actually ruled. I would love if we had more clever statesmen, who wanted to steer things back on track like Vetinari does, but I’m not sure if I wanted anyone like Vetinari in charge even as much as I love the fellow.

To sum up, for me, Going Postal is the best Discworld novel. It just hits all the right marks. Also, rereading Discworld in order has opened my eyes, how the city and the characters have developed throughout the series, and notice the side stories that are given to us with one-liners. Like what is happening in Sacharissa Cripslock and William de Worde’s lives. I have never been too worried about reading Discworld books in order, and I didn’t do that the first time around, but if you plan to revisit the novels, I recommend rereading them in order. You notice more of the subtlety Pratchett built.

Thank you for reading, and have a grand day and try not to go postal. Or if you do, do it with style, wearing a golden suit and winged hat and shoes.

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