Terry Pratchett: Going Postal and Making Money
I actually bought Going Postal new in hardback but didn’t read it until now; I got Making Money from the library (and will buy in paperback). Moist von Lipwig is a conman who uses various aliases; he is arrested as Alfred Spangler and sentenced to be hanged. He is only mostly hanged, and Vetenari offers him a second chance as head of the Post Office using his real name (but does not mention that the last four have died under suspicous circumstances or that there are decades worth of letters there.) He also assigns a golem as watchdog. Moist deals with the elderly former postal workers, threats from the current owners of the clacks network, a random magical device in the basement, a society for the protection of golems and its head, Adora Dearhart (aka Spike), introduces stamps, and uses his conman skills to save the day. Some of Moist’s problems were solved a bit too easily, but I ended up liking it anyway.
In Making Money, a year later, the Post Office is a success and is running itself. Stamps are being used as an unofficial currency, and Moist is bored. Vetenari wants him to take over one of the banks, but he refuses. Moist ends up running the bank anyway (the actual head is the previous chairman’s dog who has 51% of the stock; Moist is its caretaker; the previous chairman met him and named him as Mr. Fusspot’s caretaker in her will) and of the mint. Moist deals with the previous chairman’s family (who own the other 49% of the stock), various workers inside the bank who wish to maintain the status quo, somebody who knows his past and attempts blackmail, another random device in the basment, complete with a crazy guy and an Igor, a golem attempting to be female as a secretary, and a previous chairman’s cache of sex toys (Mr. Fusspot spends the latter part of the book carrying around a vibrator). There is a sublot/subtheme through both of these of the golems and their place in society and their humanity or lack thereof; I know that they are not human and probably did not mind, but I found the fate of the old golems a bit disturbing.
These are standalone in that they are not directly related to any of the other Discworld novels. I’m not sure how well they would work as a starting point, though; familiarity with Ankh-Mopork seems like it would be somewhere between helpful and necessary. These are somewhat generic Discworld/Ankh-Mopork novels, but I did enjoy them. They reminded me of why I liked Pratchett in the first place; the last of his novels I truly liked was Monstrous Regiment (2003). I didn’t like Thud! much (too much Vimes), and didn’t care about Wee Free Men and have not read its sequels, though I plan to eventually; I ended up with A Hat Full of Sky after my last trip to a used-book store.