Terry Pratchett sends the denizens of Discworld to war again in his latest novel, hot off the presses, and as charming an addition to the series as most would wish. Not a classic, but delivers for fans and newcomers.
Discworld at war again
By Jeremy Pugh
Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins)
Hardcover, 368 pages List Price: $24.95. Amazon Price: $17.47 (you can purchase the book at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/006001315X/gadgetmagazine)
What do you get when you cross a vampire, a troll, Igor, a collection of misfits, and a young woman who shoves a pair of socks down her pants to join the army? The answer’s simple. You have Monstrous Regiment, the characteristically charming novel by Terry Pratchett.
Polly becomes Private Oliver Perks, who is on a quest to find her older brother, who’s recently MIA in one of the innumerable wars the tiny nation of Borogravia has a habit of starting with its neighbors. This peevish tendency has all but expended Borogravia’s ranks of cannon fodder. Whether Sergeant Jackrum knows her secret or not, he can’t afford to be choosy, as Perks and her/his comrades are among the last able-bodied recruits left in Borogravia. This collection of misfits includes the aforementioned vampire (reformed and off the blood, thank you), troll, and macabre Igor, who is only too happy to sew you a new leg if you aren’t too particular about previous ownership. Off to war, Polly/Oliver learns that having a pair of, um, socks is a good way to open up doors in this man’s army.
For those who haven’t made this underrated author’s acquaintance, Monstrous Regiment is as good a place to start as any. Readers will encounter Pratchett’s subtle and disarming wit, his trademark footnoted asides along with a not-too-shabby tale of honor, courage, and duty in the face of absurd circumstances.
War has come to Discworld . . . again.
And, to no one’s great surprise, the conflict centers on the small, insufferably arrogant, strictly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on it’s ability to beat up on its neighbors for even the tiniest imagined slight. This time, however, it’s Borogravia that’s getting its long overdue comeuppance, which has left the country severely drained of young men.
Ever since her brother Paul marched off to battle a year ago, Polly Perks has been running The Duchess,her family’s inn – even though the revered national deity Nuggan has decreed that female ownership of a business is an Abomination (with, among others, oysters, rocks, and the color blue). To keep The Duchess in the family, Polly must find her missing sibling. So she cuts off her hair, dons masculine garb, and sets out to join him in this man’s army.
Despite her rapid mastery of belching, scratching, and other macho habits (and aided by a well-placed pair of socks), Polly is afraid that someone will immediately see through her disguise: a fear that proves groundless when the recruiting officer, the legendary and seemingly ageless Sergeant Jackrum, accepts her without question. Or perhaps the sergeant is simply too desperate for fresh cannon fodder to discriminate – which would explain why a vampire, a troll, a zombie, a religious fanatic, and two uncommonly close “friends”” are also eagerly welcomed into the fighting fold. But marching off with little (read: no) training, Polly (now called “”Oliver””) finds herself wondering about the myriad peculiarities of her new brothers-in-arms.
It would appear that Polly “”Ozzer”” Perks is not the only grunt with a secret. There is no time to dwell on such matters, however. Duty calls. The battlefield beckons. There’s a tide to be turned.
And sometimes – in war as in everything else – the best man for the job is a woman.
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From the Back Cover
‚Like Jonathan Swift, Prachett uses his other world to hold up a distorting mirror to our own, and like Swift he is a satirist of enormous talent‚Ä¶ incredibly funny‚Ä¶ compulsively readable.‚ – The Times
About the Author
Terry Prachett is the author of the phenomenally successful Discworld series. He spends most of his time hovering over a keyboard in his home in Wiltshire.
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