Title: Raising Steam
Author: Terry Pratchett
Page Count/Review Word Count: 480
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book, but I’ve also been putting it off. It’s one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, and because I’ve already read over sixty of his books, I’m very aware that there aren’t many more for me to work through. And now that he’s dead (I cried when I heard), there won’t be any new ones.
That’s why, when I started reading it, it felt like scratching an itch, or bumping into an old friend in a place where you wouldn’t expect it. Pratchett is on form in this book, and it’s impressive because there are so many of his regulars along for the ride, from Sam Vimes and Vetinari to Moist Von Lipwig and Sir Harry King. Those names won’t mean much to you if you haven’t read a Discworld book before, but it’s still a good read even if you’re new to Pratchett’s work. He does a great job of somehow writing standalones that also work as the latest instalment of an epic series.
In this book, the steam train comes to the Discworld, and Pratchett is able to put his typical spin on things and to look at the development of the railway in a new way. The denizens of the Disc need to find a way to develop the rails, but without the benefit of the technology that we were able to make use of here in Roundworld. Luckily, the Disc is home to such creatures as goblins, golems, trolls and dwarves, and the funny thing about the railway is that – like the clacks before it – is just seems destined to happen. It’s a technological advancement that could change the Disc for the better, for every race that calls it home.
Of course, there are others who don’t want to see it happen, and so the development of the railway is plagued by sabotage attempts from the grags, the deep down dwarves who don’t want the world to change. And then there’s the patrician, Lord Vetinari, who wants the railway to succeed at all costs. Somewhere in the middle, we have former conman Moist Von Lipwig, who’s now in charge of the Ankh-Morpork bank and its postal service and who’s given the task of making sure that the train system succeeds. He doesn’t get much choice about it – he knows what the patrician will do if he fails him. It involves kittens.
Overall then, this is one of the better Discworld novels, and I’m definitely glad that I read it. You’d still want to start earlier on in the series before working your way up to this one, though. This is the Discwoirld’s swan song, and I like how it points to a future where technology and magic live side by side.