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Book Review: Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Genre: Humor, Satire, Fantasy
ISBN: 0061161640
ISBN-13: 9780061161643
Format: Hardcover, 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Pub. Date: September 2007
Series: Discworld Series

Once again, Terry Pratchett delivers the one-two punch of satire and action that makes his novels so much fun to read. A modern Oscar Wilde, Terry Pratchett originally began writing in order to poke fun at the fantasy genre, to attack its tropes and stereotypes. Over time, his writing style changed and his satire began to see the ridiculousness and humor in culture at large. In the past few years, he has poked fun at the government, particularly Western style democracies, republics, and parliamentary systems through stories told in the allegorical city of Ankh-Morpork.

Making Money, and its predecessor, Going Postal, satirize the banking industry and the postal system respectively. The primary character of both is Moist von Lipwig, a former swindler and con man who thrives on risk and danger. In Making Money, Lipwig has successfully brought the post office back from ruin. Now, lost in the tedium of the everyday, he seeks thrill and adventure, even going so far as to try �extreme sneezing�. Vetinari, benevolent tyrant that he is, finagles a way to get Lipwig placed in charge of the royal bank and the Ankh-Morpork mint. The rest of the story follows Lipwig through a series of misadventures, including a return of a character from his less than legal past, Golems, and the ever-smoking Adora Belle Dearheart as they revive the failing banking industry.

As always, Terry Pratchett provides pleasant and humorous escapism in Making Money. As someone in the finance industry myself, I thoroughly enjoyed his riffs on shareholders, banks and the very concept of money. In essence, Making Money is a primer on basic economics, dressed up in a clown suit.

Pratchett�s wit continues to be sharp, although a consistent reader of Pratchett�s novels is likely to see the reuse of some old jokes and a formulaic plot line. Yet Pratchett�s formula allows for a one a year novel publishing, something his fans appreciate. It should also be remembered that Pratchett almost single-handedly created the fantasy as satire/humor genre and has given it credibility, so he has the right to use a formula that he created. (I say this in response to those who complain that Pratchett has gotten too formulaic. To be honest, I enjoy the predictability of his novels. It allows me to pick one up, enjoy the humor in it, and return to it time and again as a release from the stressful and overly serious world. His humor is medicinal, and if a formulaic plot is what is required to get my medicine, I don’t really mind.)

The first few chapters seem to move slowly. Pratchett seems to be off his game humor wise. The jokes are distant and the pacing seems off. But by the third chapter, Pratchett returns to his humorous prose, snapping off witticisms and creating the ridiculous situations that his readers have enjoyed since The Colour of Magic.

Pratchett also delves a little more deeply into the character of Vetinari, stripping away some of the enigmatic nature of the character, which I think ruins the effect the Tyrant of Ankh-Morpork used to create in the novels. Vetinari is humanized a little bit, and that detracts from the novel as a whole. By giving Vetinari understandable emotions, we see him less like the all-powerful man whose finger is on the pulse of the city life, and more as a human person dependent on the success of others to keep the city running. This is not an helpful element in the Discworld narrative, and Pratchett would have done better to forgo it.

While the reader is unlikely to find anything really new or innovative in Making Money, he or she will be able to return to the easy comfort of the Discworld, and fill a lazy Sunday afternoon with humor and smiles. This is not Pratchett�s best work, so those new to Discworld would be better off reading Small Gods, Men at Arms, or Going Postal first. Fans of Pratchett will enjoy the novel, as I did, although the might be disappointed at the formulaic nature of the novel overall. Still, it is fine reading, easy to speed through, with good pacing and great wit.

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