Welcome to Ankh-Morpork, We Will Take Your Money Now
If you are new to Terry Pratchett and his Discworld, fear not. Each book can mostly be read without worrying too much about what has been going on heretofore. This book, however, is in a way Part II of Going Postal, a book where we first meet Moist von Lipwig, a man who cheats people who feel they are cheating him and must live on the edge if he is not to go over it.
After narrowly avoiding death and finding angels who apparently work for the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Moist was trapped in the city’s decrepit Post Office that more or less failed to deliver mail and was home to dangerous secrets. He cleaned up the mess, resurrected the place as well as people’s faith in it, and made his reputation anew. In this next book, Moist is forced to explore banking.
The world of financial management appears to have less to do with keeping ledgers than it does with raising the dead, being constantly forced to get into black coaches where (self-) important people smirk, madmen and their Igors, assassins, and being licked by a small dog with a penchant for whirring devices of self-pleasure. There are also magicians, old lechers, and super-duper mysterious chief cashiers to whom the world of numbers is the only true reality.
In classic Pratchett style Making Money opens up with a description of “them” and what they did, which was “lay in the dark, guarding.” The very next page continues to tap into the human desire to know what-is-going-to-happen-next and gives a taste of the secrets to come by describing a lady leasing a very large and very useless plot of dwarf land. As the ink dried on the deed, the lawyer pleasantly asked what possible mysterious purpose she had in mind, and she instantly started to develop some character depth: “Can you keep a secret, Mr. Blister?” “Oh, indeed, madam. Indeed!” In his hopeful ear she whispers,“So can I.”
The Discworld takes place in a time-warp that is Victorian but with modern sensibilities. The book itself is laid out to match the old Victorian novels, and each chapter heading describes what is to come in an amusing and curiosity snagging way. For example, the first chapter is described like so:
“Waiting in Darkness. A bargain sealed. The hanging man. Golem with a blue dress on. Crime and punishment. A chance to make real money. The chain of goldish. No unkindness to bears. Mr. Bent keeps time. “
As always, the book is light-hearted and full of quirky characters, as well as suspense and mystery. It is a clever way of working through what could have been the thinking process of people who decided that gold was too clunky to keep carrying around and that it is natural to trust banks with your money. There is also no lack of humorous names, double ententes, ambiguous phrasing, and glimpses into madness.
Reading this book allowed me to forget all the little details of my own life that haunt me into the world of the unconscious and I believe I slept easier thanks to the reading I had done before bed. I didn’t LOL though. At no point did I catch myself making strangers on the bus uncomfortable with wild laughter. Other novels of Discworld have done this for me, but not this one.
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harper (September 18, 2007)