by Terry Pratchett
This second Moist von Lipwig novel also seems to be the last book in the long-running Discworld series. It's a pity, too. For even after so many years and so many books, this one seems full of youthful energy and the promise of things to come.
Moist von Lipwig has transformed the Post Office of Ankh-Morpork from a bottomless pit of undelivered mail into a fast-paced, successful mail service. Even the clacks service, under his control, has almost begun to break even. But with complete success comes a lack of new challenges. For a man like Moist, who has always lived dangerously, boredom can be deadly.
So Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city, challenges Moist to take on a new responsibility: to rejuvenate the struggling banking and monetary system. Though the Postmaster General initially balks, he soon finds this is one of those offers one can't refuse. Before he knows what he's doing, Moist is taking the new chairman of the Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork for walkies. Yes, the heir to 51% of the bank's stock is a dog. And the heir to the dog is Moist von Lipwig.
Thrust unwillingly into this position, Moist quickly begins to make the best of it. His ideas include moving the city off the gold standard, printing paper money, paying more interest to small depositors, and lending more money to people who need it. But the banking community hates change. Soon Moist is in mortal danger as the Lavish family, shareholders in the Royal Bank, pauses in its internal squabbles and focuses its hostility on him. Plus, someone who knows about Moist's criminal past has come to town with blackmail on his mind. The chief cashier, who has his own dark past, plots against Moist. And Moist's girlfriend, the ironically named Adora Belle Dearheart, has dug up a treasure of her own - one that could turn the whole world upside down.
Pratchett combines a primer on monetary policy with a swift-paced tale of danger, intrigue, magical weirdness, laugh-out-loud humor, and romance. His wit is so sharp that, as always, I have to arm-wrestle myself to avoid quoting dozens of bits that I particularly liked. Since I've been so good, having abstained from quotes in the last few reviews, I'll indulge myself in just one. You tell me whether you can resist a book in which Sergeant Colon of the Watch says:
"Now, you see, that was good... He went right through the cab window without touching the sides and bounced off that bloke creepin' up. Very nice roll as he landed, I thought, and he still had hold of the little dog the whole time. Done it before, I shouldn't wonder. Nevertheless, I'm forced, on balance, to consider him a twit."
St. Louis, USA
Recommended Age: 14+
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