Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #33
Publication: HarperTorch (first published 2004), Paperback, 394pg
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Fiction, Humor
Purchase at Amazon or BookDepository (affiliate info) or add it to your Goodreads shelf
Suddenly, condemned arch-swindler Moist von Lipwig found himself with a noose around his neck and dropping through a trapdoor into ... a government job?
By all rights, Moist should be meeting his maker rather than being offered a position as Postmaster by Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork. Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may prove an impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office. Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, greedy Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical headman. But if the bold and undoable are what's called for, Moist's the man for the job -- to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every being, human or otherwise, requires: hope. (from Amazon)
I actually saw the TV version of Going Postal before I read this book. I liked that version, but, as always, it messes with my enjoyment of the text version. I kept thinking “but that’s not how it was in the show!” instead of paying attention to what was going on in the story.
However! Despite that problem, I enjoyed reading Going Postal. Moist von Lipwig is one of the funnest Discworld characters; he’s a scoundrel, but charming. Vetinari is great in this book, too– he’s scary, but in an almost convivial kind of way? It’s funny AND terrifying and I’m so glad I don’t have to deal with him IRL.
I wish the other characters had been more striking. I’m not sure if it’s just because of the TV comparison thing or what, but I didn’t think that the secondary/tertiary characters were as good in this book as they usually are. Adora Belle is probably the best of the secondary characters, and that’s only because she gets the most lines. One of the things I like best about the Discworld books is that (usually) the non-protagonist characters are given enough space to be interesting in their own rights, outside of their interaction with the protagonist. They give the book flavor, kinda. In Going Postal that flavor is parsley– not my favorite.
Or maybe everything just got subsumed under Moist and his plotline, which, admittedly, is pretty darned cool. The post office! I love the post office, and it’s really neat to have a fantasy version that is both hilarious and actually making money. It also avoids that whole con-man-turning-straight thing: Moist is still a con man (with a heart of gold, true), and he CONTINUES to be a con man, and it’s through his cons that the post office becomes relevant again. It’s very entertaining watching him run around trying to accomplish things, so it’s possible that I’ve just blotted out everything that wasn’t as sparkling as Moist.
Going Postal is not, of course, just about the post office. There’s also stuff with blackmail and murder, family, a tiny bit of romance and just a hint of the City Watch (who are the best Discworld characters for sure). Unfortunately, it does lack a lot of the oomph that shows up in books like, for instance, Night Watch. It’s funny and it’s touching and there’s some neat fantasy stuff (I like the idea that words take on life of their own if you pile too many of them together– it explain libraries SO MUCH) but I didn’t find it super emotionally satisfying.
That said, I DID find it intellectually/funny-bone satisfying, and so I’d still recommend it for fans of Discworld. (If you’ve never read a Discworld book, I think there are better starter books out there, however.)
Read: July 10-11, 2013