Originally published in October 2004, on my original 52 Books blog.
Year published: 2004
Genre: Fantasy, humorous
Where got: Amazon.co.uk
When Lord Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork, gives con artist Moist von Lipwig a second chance at life if he will take over running the city’s disabled Post Office, Moist knows there has to be a catch. Finding tons of undelivered mail is nothing compared with finding out that four of his recent predecessors died in mysterious “accidents”. It looks as if the job will be simple: get enough postmen and deliver the mail, even if it will take decades, get the service up and running and print some stamps. Then there is Miss Dearheart, who renders Moist quite speechless with her icy cold manner and severe mode of dressing, and whom he would like to get to know a lot better. The plot thickens when the operators of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company decide the Post Office is a threat, and begin a campaign to get rid of the competition, and Moist finally meets a man who is a bigger crook than he is.
Technique and plot:
The story is a blend of Pratchett’s usual humour, parody and allusions, combined with a very good story about beating the odds. The plot is unusually streamlined for a Pratchett story: there is only one plotline, and it’s divided into chapters, a first in the Discworld series (I’m not counting the Discworld-set children’s books). Several characters from the previous books make their appearances, such as Lord Vetinari, Captain Carrot and Sacharissa of The Times, who appears to have finally dragged William to the altar (read The Truth if you want to know more). If there is any complaint, it is that Moist is too similar to some of Pratchett’s previous heroes and heroines, especially in his feeling that others can see straight through him and uncover the secret he is hiding, and his capacity for unexpected nastiness when cornered.
Another great story from the master of funny fantasy. 4+ stars.