With Going Postal Pratchett has produced another wonderful addition to the Discworld series. I have been much more impressed with the later books in the series, especially the Guards collection, and this is more along those lines, with bizarre hilarity and wonderful characters abound. Again, the topic seems mundane, the Post Office, but as he did with Vimes rebuilding the Night Watch and William de Word launching the Ankh-Morpork Times, Pratchett finds space for poking fun at the establishment and it’s traditions as well as showing the importance it has in society, all under the umbrella of a story about redemption. One man really can make a difference, especially if he’s prepared to break the rules to do it, and Moist von Lipwig is very experienced when it comes to breaking the rules.
Moist is offered a second chance, he can become the Postmaster General and try and rebuild the Post Office to it’s former glory, or he can die. It’s a tough choice, the Post Office has functioned in years, but he soon finds that there are two inhabitants of the old Post House who claim to be Postmen. With their help, a bunch of golems and the desire to keep moving, Moist drags the Post Office off of the scrapheap and starts to the challenge the Grand Trunk company, who operate the clacks communication line, rather badly, to the annoyance of everyone, and they like their monopoly, which spells bad news for Moist. If he can stay alive long enough, he might just be able to perform miracles, and get a date with the super-cynical, chain smoking, Adora Belle Dearheart, daughter of the inventor of the clacks system whose father was killed by the Chairman of the Grand Trunk company (though nobody can prove it).
One of the things that the books all excel at is characterisation. Some of the old familiars return: Vimes, Carrot and Angua all make brief appearances and Lord Vetinari returns. These characters are joined by the golem Mr Pump, Junior Postman Tolliver Groat, Apprentice Postman Stanley, Adora Belle Dearheart and Moist von Lipwig who make a fantastic cast. Adora’s eternal cynicism is wonderful and Moist’s million-mile-an-hour (his motto is: ‘Always move fast. You never know what’s catching you up.’) attack on the Post Office is madcap. All in all, an excellent addition to the Discworld series.
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Reviewed: 1st January 2006