WOSSNAME - AUGUST 2007 -- PART 3 OF 7 (continued)
====Part 3 - MAKING MONEY REVIEW
15) MAKING MONEY BOOK REVIEW
THE SIZZLE, THE SAUSAGE, AND THE COMPANY OF ANGELS: A REVIEW OF
by Annie Mac
How do you solve a problem like von Lipwig?
It's been a year since the events of Going Postal, and Ankh-Morpork
is charging full gallop into the Industrial Era. The Post Office is
running smoothly now; the Clacks has been integrated into daily life
as just another medium of normal communication; the city is
ascending to a new golden age (this time, not based on the pointy
end of a sword); and Moist von Lipwig is restless. Dangerously
restless. He needs a new challenge, a new mountain to climb, a new
flam to flim, and he doesn't even know it...but Vetinari does.
Putting a convicted con artist in charge of the Royal Mint may sound
as ill-considered as putting a drunkard in charge of a distillery,
but for Moist it's always been about the thrill of the scam -- to
him, the making means far more than the money -- and he soon
discovers that the thrilling dangers of being an anonymous con
artist are small change compared to those of being the respectable,
well-known head of an ancient financial institution. The question
is, is he con artist enough to run the *real* game of Fleece the
Marks for the good of society?
Making Money is about masks: the ones we wear on the outside, the
ones we wear on the inside, the ones we wear to fool ourselves, the
way even objects can wear masks and be other than they seem. It's
about the difference between image and reality, and how people so
often confuse the two. It's about apparent worth and true value, and
how sometimes the value of the cover is far greater than the value
of the contents...and how, sometimes, honesty is the best bamboozle
And it rocks.
My initial reaction to Making Money was that it was lighter than
Going Postal, less intense and more comedic, almost a turning away
from the gritty maturity of recent Discworld novels... but I was
fooled by the masks. Lurking just below the surface -- a very
entertaining surface! -- are deep, thought-provoking observations
about the human condition (for a Discworld value of "human") and a
cast of characters who take on more complexity, more *realness*,
every time we meet them.
Making Money brings back some familiar faces and introduces some
fascinating new ones, but it's very much Moist's and Vetinari's
show. Two heavyweights sharing equal star billing, if you like.
Moist, with his shiny costume and shiny schemes, may be the man at
the front of the stage, but Vetinari has a very hands-on presence
here. Once an eminence grise who rarely stirred from the centre of
his web, he now dedicates more time to checking up on situations in
person. The Vetinari of Making Money has become more visibly human
without losing his basic Vetinari-ness, and the descriptions of him
at his games of as-it-were municipal chess and his interactions with
faithful clerk Drumknott are a joy to read and visualise. At the
same time, it's an equal delight to watch Moist's evolution from
looking out *only* for Number One to being a "man of the polis" who
sees the larger picture and makes decisions for the greater
good...with a modest slice off the top for himself, of course.
Moist and Vetinari work well together and enjoy mutual respect, not
that either of them would admit it. If Sam Vimes is Vetinari's
terrier, then Moist is Vetinari's hummingbird: flighty, showy, eye-
catching in action, flitting from metaphorical flower to flower as
he spreads the vital pollen of change. Vetinari sees full well that
the runaway train of modernisation is going at breakneck speed, and
that Moist's snake-oil approach is the perfect salve to grease the
wheels so that train doesn't jump the rails and crash in flames (and
if you think that's a worrying mix of metaphors, hey, it's a
Discworld-y sort of mix). Both men play life as a game; but where
Moist is still at the stage of thinking in terms of individual,
unconnected games that he can win, Vetinari treats the game as one
without end, where the only "win" is a minimum-casualties passage to
the next level. As the benevolent Trickster, he moves his chosen
players like board pieces...all, and always, for the benefit of the
It's all about the city. Vetinari's machinations mirror Pratchett's
labour-of-love treatment of Ankh-Morpork and the Discworld universe
as a place of real characters and real consequences -- one could say
that the Author has evolved along with his creations. [Note: in my
mind's eye I see the Pratchett of Ago as a master craftsman in his
study, poking at a tiny scale model Discworld (like the UU wizards
of the Science of Discworld books) to see what might happen, and the
Pratchett of Now as a kinder master craftsman who runs Hex
simulations that never spill a drop of needless blood.] As mediaeval
magicalism gives way to Century of the Anchovy realism, going back
is not an option; with first the Clacks and now the new technologies
that will inevitably derive from Ankh-Morpork's acquisition of a
Device, the toothpaste is truly out of the tube and the people of
the Disc will have to figure out how to live with the results
without, well, needlessly spilt blood. And Making Money sees the
advent of another complex piece of ancient "lost technology" that
will have equally far-reaching consequences (and no, I'm not going
to tell you what it is; that, my friends, is known as "spoilage" and
ain't gonna happen here).
When the cube (Device) was first introduced in Thud!, I worried a
bit. The thought of a clearly alien artefact entering the magic-
driven bubble universe of Discworld seemed a bit jarring -- bringing
the stuff of science fiction into the realm of what is essentially a
traditional fantasy setting might, I feared, break the self-
completeness that has long since set Discworld novels head and
shoulders above the rest of the fantasy genre. But there was no need
to worry, as it's turned out. It is a measure of Pratchett's genius
that he is integrating this wild card into the world we know and
love in a way that leaves its essential Discly nature undamaged.
Another thing that strikes me about Making Money is the evolution of
the vernacular in dialogue, and also in social conventions as the
Author describes them to us. In the real world, slang and
terminology evolves to match social and technological changes, and
the sheer speed of change on the Disc is reflected in and emphasised
by a far more modern turn of phrase -- again, I found this slightly
unsettling at first, but soon realised that it's a very clever way
of showing those changes without having to do too much explaining.
And, as mentioned earlier, it rocks. Don't panic, though,
"OMGLOLZ!!!111!11!" and mallspeak have yet to make an appearance!
About the new characters: no, we don't get a magnificent, evilly
charismatic villain of the stature of Reacher Gilt, but then we
don't need one. There are certainly interesting villains in Making
Money, and some of them offer real menace, but the story is more
about people solving problems (and themselves) than about heroes
battling the bad guys. Oh, and it's rather bizarrely comforting to
know that there's a Paris Hilton wherever you go in the multiverse,
All in all, Making Money goes straight into the upper reaches of my
favourite Discworld novels, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.
There has been a lot of talk in Pratchett fan communities of
"whither Discworld?" and wondering if places to take the stories and
characters are running out, but yet again, the Master has come up
with a take that gives the series enough new blood to continue its
long, long run and still remain fresh. As fresh as a freshly minted
elim, in fact. Thumbs up, Mr Pratchett, and keep the white-knuckle
Wild Ride of Change flowing!
And now, turn the page for the Bumper Fun Extra Added Boffo version
from the Ministry of Silly Reviews...
End of Part 3, continued on Part 4 of 7.
If you did not get all seven parts, write: interact@...
Copyright (c) 2007 by Klatchian Foreign Legion