For the latest in our series of reviews on comedy books and films, Going Postal by Terry Pratchett (BOOK ZONE 823.91) is one of the best remedies for exam stress. It takes place on the magical Discworld, a flat world which sits on the back of four elephants that in turn stand atop a giant turtle called A’Tuin that slowly flies through space. Discworld is one of the most famous and successful fantasy series ever, with Terry Pratchett’s tales of a magical and bizarre world filled with witches, dragons and heroes winning over millions of readers worldwide. Each Discworld book is a separate story, with a few recurring characters linking the books and many of occurring in the sprawling, corrupt city of Ankh-Morpork. Pratchett began writing the Discworld books as a parody of epic fantasy and sword and sorcery (like Conan the Barbarian – in fact, there’s a character called Cohen the Barbarian!) but it has since expanded into a fully fleshed out world in its own right.
One of Pratchett’s most successful characters is Moist von Lipwig, a hapless conman who, in Going Postal, is spared hanging for his crimes by Lord Vetinari, the clever Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, on the condition that he revives the flagging postal service of the city.
Moist tries to hatch a plan to escape and retrieve his stash of gold, the results of his many years of thievery, but finds that he starts to genuinely care about making the Post Office work again. He gains a nemesis in a rival businessman, Reacher Gilt, and falls for a spiky and fiercely independent woman called Adora Belle Dearheart. Along the way, he discovers a murderous conspiracy that has led to the deaths of the previous Postmasters – and it’s coming for him next. The Clacks, a system of towers that use semaphore to communicate over the Discworld, are looming as a revolutionary new technology, and is it Moist’s job to make sure the Post Office still has a place.
Discworld has always been a humorous parody of fantasy fiction and a satire on real-world society, but Pratchett always manages to balance serious emotional impact with hilarious jokes. Going Postal is one of his very best books and while it might be a little light on plot, this tale of a thief reluctantly going straight is highly enjoyable. Moist is easily the equal of Pratchett’s other recurring characters like the witch Granny Weatherwax, Samuel Vimes (head of the City Watch), and Rincewind, the unluckiest wizard in the world. Going Postal is also one of the best places to start with the Discworld series as it gives a great introduction to Ankh-Morpork and Terry Pratchett’s brand of humour, and it is funny, heartfelt and exciting, a light read that could start a lifelong love of the Discworld and all who live there!
Try Going Postal by Terry Pratchett as a relief from revision. If you like it…
…Read some of Pratchett’s other Discworld books. There are now 40 books in the series, so plenty to choose from. In The Truth (BOOK ZONE 823.91) an enterprising printer invents a newspaper for Ankh-Morpork and comes across a plot to remove Lord Vetinari, and in the graphic novel Guards! Guards! (QUICK READS 741.5941), Captain Vimes and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch must battle a dragon, which is way above their pay grade!
…Give some of Pratchett’s other works a go. Good Omens is a story about the end of the world, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a bickering odd couple made up of an angel and a demon. Written with fellow fantasy novelist Neil Gaiman, Good Omens is a hilarious tale about the apocalypse. Only You Can Save Mankind is a science fiction story about a boy called Johnny Maxwell who discovers that a video game holds the truth about an alien race. Find Good Omens and Only You Can Save Mankind in the BOOK ZONE at 823.91.
…Have a look at the fantasy trilogy that started the genre in earnest, Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. Read the books or watch the Peter Jackson film adaptations (BOOK ZONE 823.91) to enjoy a serious epic fantasy.