Sunday, May 04, 2008

'Making Money' by Terry Pratchett

Once there was a time, a few years ago, when I eagerly awaited the publication of a Terry Pratchett book. Luckily for me I have a birthday in November and Pratchett books tend to be published in early November, in time for Christmas shopping. I think I've had a present of a hardback Pratchett book for every birthday so far this century. I got 'Making Money' in November last year, along with a few other books, so it didn't get read straight away.

It wasn't really worth the wait. It is a disappointing read. Nothing of any interest actually happens in the book. The characters appear to be quite interesting at first glance, but aren't really fleshed out as the book goes on. The character of 'Adora Belle', for example, is just there. She doesn't do much, she doesn't grow as a character and we learn nothing about her through the book. I didn't really remember much about her from 'Going Postal', but that might be because there isn't much to remember. Maybe she is just a paper thin, 2D character. The main character 'Moist' isn't much better. He's a man who needs a challenge too keep him on the (reasonably) straight and narrow, but beyond that he doesn't have much of a fleshed-out character after two books.

Most of Pratchett's early books were funny and entertaining. In some of them the plot was secondary to the laughs. Later Pratchett books have tended to be humourous rather than funny, but the plots have often been interesting, clever and gripping. This book was humourous in bits but never gripping and rarely interesting. Which is a big shame.

I've read all the Discworld books. I realise that is nothing remarkable to several of the readers of this blog and probably marks me out as a geek to the rest of you. Here, in very potted form are my opinions on the series so far:
  1. The Colour of Magic
    The first Discworld novel. Quite funny, made me want to read more but I wasn't expecting TP to become as huge a success as he did. If you haven't read any TP this is a good place to start, but it gets better after this.
  2. The Light Fantastic
    More coherent and less episodic than the first book. Also much, much better. A very funny book with a great story. Rincewind is a fantastic comedy character.
  3. Equal Rites
    Good ideas in here, but not as well done as The Light Fantastic. Introduces the character of Granny Weatherwax, who'll get to be in much better books later on.
  4. Mort
    The first brilliant TP book. This is where he gets into his stride. Fantastic ideas and some really funny stuff. You could read this as your first Discworld book.
  5. Sourcery
    Rincewind is back, yippee. Entertaining.
  6. Wyrd Sisters
    Another brilliant TP book. This is the first proper book about the Witches and is one of the best Discworld books. This book is perhaps more clever than any of the books so far.
  7. Pyramids
    I really, really liked this one when it came out. Philosophy and fantasy rolled into one. Excellent. Stands up well to repeat readings too.
  8. Guards! Guards!
    Brilliant again. This one is probably (in my opinion) the best Discworld book of the lot. This is also probably the last book which you could read as your first exposure to Discworld, all the subsequent ones kind of rely on those that have gone before, to a greater or lesser extent. This one is jam-packed full of fully constructed characters and has a great and interesting story for them to be in.
  9. Eric
    Ricncewind returns in a fairly slight story. Not great, but quite adequate.
  10. Moving pictures
    I didn't like this on first reading. It improved the second time, but is still not great.
  11. Reaper man
    Again, I didn't like this on first reading, but when I revisitied it a few years later I enjoyed it quite a bit.
  12. Witches abroad
    The Witches are back in another highly entertaining story. I think TP had a lot of fun writing this.
  13. Small gods
    This one ranks second to 'Guards! Guards!' in my opinion. Brilliant. I love all the philosophical ideas in this one.
  14. Lords and ladies
    This picks up straight after 'Witches Abroad' but isn't half as good a story.
  15. Men at arms
    The sequel to 'Guards! Guards!' is very good, and also one of the best Discworld stories.
  16. Soul music
    This is kind of like 'Moving Pictures', but a bit better. Still not one of the greats though.
  17. Interesting times
    Another Rincewind story. Funny and, erm, interesting. I like this one a lot.
  18. Maskerade
    The Witches return in a fine story, which is a bit on the long side.
  19. Feet of clay
    Another in the 'City Watch' thread, a great, gripping read.
  20. Hogfather
    I loved this book on first reading, but subsequent reads haven't been as good. Quite philosophical again. This has been made into a TV mini-series which included the plot and some of the humour, but most of the interesting stuff got chopped out, which is a big shame.
  21. Jingo
    Serious. This one marks the switch from frivolous to serious. Its about war. Its not about Iraq, honest. Not enough gags. I didn't like it much and have never tried a second read.
  22. Last continent
    Rincewind again. OK, but not a great one. Some of the idas in here don't seem to fit with the rest of the story.
  23. Carpe jugulum
    Quite a dark one this. All about vampires. I don't really like vampire stories much.
  24. The fifth elephant
    Having done vampires, this one is about werewolves. The word 'gritty' might start to apply here. Less jokes than of old, more politics. A bit grim in bits. And the whole thing of the 'clacks' system becoming like the internet is dull.
  25. The truth
    The first really good book for a few years. Introduces new central characters while characters we know well appear in cameo roles. Pratchett does this in subsequent books a lot, but (in my opinion) this is the only book where it really works well. Interesting plot and some good comedy moments.
  26. The last hero
    Short story with pictures. Featuring Rincewind again. Nice but forgettable story.
  27. The thief of time
    I never really 'got' this one. There are some interesting ideas tied up in a strange plot and I'm not really sure what's going on.
  28. Night watch
    Serious again. Good story but with not a lot of laughs.
  29. Monstrous regiment
    Back to war again. Serious. I didn't like this one at all.
  30. Going postal
    A new character is introduced and lots of old ones cameo. Not a great or interesting story and not very funny. Disappointing.
  31. Thud!
    Serious and political again but with some good bits. Best of the recent books, but that's not saying much.
  32. Making Money
    Reviewed above.

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