Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Going Postal

by Terry Pratchett


With a name like Moist von Lipwig, you can hardly blame a man for pretending to be someone else. But for Lipwig, aka Albert Spangler and dozens of other aliases, the pretending is at an end. We meet the career conman in one of Vetinari's cells, waiting to be hanged, his hopes of escape dashed by some warders with a cruel sense of humour.

Yet Moist is given a choice: be hanged, or become the Postmaster of Ankh-Morpork's crumbling postal service. Given that the past four postmasters have met untimely deaths it's not much of a choice, but he doesn't discover this detail until later.

The Post Office building is crammed full of undelivered letters, and staffed only by Stanley the apprentice and Junior Postmaster Groat, both of whom are apparently insane. The building is also harbouring a secret or two behind the crush of envelopes. Nobody believes that the Post Office can be made to work again.

Lipwig's first instinct is to run, but he has Pump, his golem parole officer, to hold him in check. There's no escaping his duties, no matter how dangerous they are. Adding to the general peril is his rivalry with Gilt, the ruthless and piratical owner of the Grand Trunk clacks network.

The clacks are falling into disrepair because Gilt and his banker friends are unwilling to spend money on maintenance or repair. Messages are costly and often delayed, because the Grand Trunk has a monopoly on the clacks, and workers are falling to their deaths from the tall clacks towers.

One person who is angry about this is Adora Belle Dearheart, a woman who hires out golems at the Golem Trust. She dresses severely, smokes excessively, treats everyone with disdain and can see right through Moist. Naturally Moist is smitten with her, being a man who likes a challenge. In fact Lipwig is almost pathologically inclined to raise the stakes. He's bold, cunning, and utterly charismatic, and he finds himself taunting and challenging Gilt at every available opportunity. At heart he's a con artist and an anti-hero, but he has a conscience of sorts and he's a great character.

In spite of a number of daft character names, Going Postal is one of Terry Pratchett's best. Filled with puns and amusing character sketches, it makes a clever analysis of the psychology of hope. For Lipwig false hope is his stock in trade, but he's not the only one with a talent for using it to manipulate people. Although this book is more thoughtful than it is adrenaline-fuelled, Going Postal is never dull, and as sharp as one of Apprentice Postman Stanley's pins.

Book Details

Year: 2004

Categories: Books

  Male Protagonist  

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