Friday, 29 August 2008

Monstrous Regiment

Monstrous Regiment, by Terry Pratchett, was one of the few Discworld books I had left to read. Not sure what I'll do when I've finished them all... start all over again perhaps. It took me eleven days to read this one but that has nothing to do with the quality of the book - two words represent the reasons and those are: Olympics and grandchildren. The first is self-explanatory and the second, well, our grandaughter's been here since Tuesday and went home today. Thus my reading time has been severely disrupted for a couple of weeks. Not that it mattered as this is just the sort of story that's ideal for reading slowly over a period of time.



Polly Perks' older brother, Paul, has gone off to war and disappeared off the face of the earth. He's not very bright, Polly has in fact spent most of her life being an older sister to her older brother... so Polly is worried. On a whim she decides to leave her father's inn one night, disguised as a boy, and joins the army in order to search for her brother. And thus Polly Perks becomes Oliver Perks and heads off to fight for her warlike little country of Borogravia.

With her goes Maladict, the vampire, who has sworn off blood but is addicted to coffee, Igor the igor (Igors specialise in sewing people together), a troll, and several youngsters from the local workhouse, all led by Sergeant Jackrum, a legend in his own lifetime. The officer in charge, known to one and all as 'the rupert' is one, Lieutenant Blouse. He has no chin, reads battle strategy books and wants to have an item of clothing named after him. Polly is made his batman, which is difficult as she doesn't know how to shave a man, but then neither does Blouse... Not only that, her fellow soldiers seem oddly deficient in that and other areas too. It seems there are secrets amongst this extremely motley band. Not that any of it matters because they are the last recruits from Borogravia and it's going to be up to them to win the war and save their country from disgrace.

I couldn't help feeling while I was reading this book, that if ever a teacher wanted to push home the futility of war to his students, all he would really need to do is hand them each a copy of this book and let them draw their own conclusions. That makes the story sound preachy when it most certainly is not. Terry Pratchett does what he does better than anyone else in my opinion, and that is to drive his point home with his superb humour. He is the perfect 'show, don't tell' author as new recruits are handed an IOU instead of a shilling, get taken to a shed for new uniforms only to find they're getting secondhand ones with blood and gore on them, and are fed 'scubbo' which can be pork, chicken or beef boiled in water but is more likely to be rat or horse. A couple of well-known Discworld characters turn up - William de Worde, the journalist from The Truth and the ever wonderful Sam Vimes, head of the Night Watch and now Duke of something or other, much to his disgust. I'd forgotten how much I love his character and must get around to reading Night Watch and Thud!.

Anyway, another wonderful book from Mr. Pratchett. They just get better and better and Monstrous Regiment manages to be extremely thought provoking whilst maintaining the author's well earned reputation for exceptionally clever humour.

10 comments:

DesLily said...

the vampire, who has sworn off blood but is addicted to coffee,

That's hysterical Cath! Reminds me a bit of the book I just read, The Magician (Nichola Flamel).. one character was an immortal vampire, but she was a Vegatarian! lol I don't know where these authors get some of their ideas but ya gotta love them!

Cath said...

You have got to love these authors that come up with these wonderfully funny ideas. This one from TP come from an earlier book of his, Carpe Jugulum I *think*, where the vampires join a kind temperance thing where they swear not to drink blood any more. And Maladict we're told is a fully paid up member.

You've wondered about reading Terry Pratchett, Pat... Monstrous Regiment is a stand-alone book that you could easily start off with.

BooksPlease said...

Terry Pratchet is yet another author whose books I've never read. I can see I need to catch up.

Pop over to my blog www.booksplease.org - I've left you an award - thanking you for your comments.

Nymeth said...

"Terry Pratchett does what he does better than anyone else in my opinion, and that is to drive his point home with his superb humour. He is the perfect 'show, don't tell' author"

Exactly! Very well said :) And I know just what you mean about not having many Discworld books left to read...I only have the Science ones left. But I know I'll start all over again many times over.

Cath said...

Booksplease: I have so many authors I've never read - authors I know I would enjoy and *should* read but just haven't got to them. You'll get to Mr. Pratchett when the time is right and hopefully have a lot of fun with his books.

Nymeth: thanks - I get so blown away by TP's skill that I just have to keep repeating it over and over! There was one bit near the beginning where he said that Sgnt. Jackrum was so fat he didn't have a waist - he had an equator. Who else would have thought of that? Wonderful.

Rhinoa said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this. I have to confess to finding Pratchett a little hit and miss. I do love his Tiffany Aching series though and am looking forward to Making Money.

Cath said...

Rhinoa: there are a few Pratchetts that I haven't cared for - Pyramids being one example. So I do know what you mean. I've only recently read his Tiffany Aching series but they're now my favourite series of his along with the Nightwatch books.

Darla D said...

Cath - I have Thud to listen to on CD, because it's read by Stephen Briggs, whose narration I've come to adore. Should I read Monstrous Regiment first, do you think? Thanks!

Cath said...

As far as I know, Darla, there's no need to read Monstrous Regiment first. Thud! belongs with the Night Watch series (I haven't read it myself yet), whereas Monstrous Regiment is a stand alone. Sam Vimes does appear in MR but I don't think there's a chronological reason to read it first. I would say though that Nymeth knows more about the Discworld books than me and if she sees this she may think otherwise. I would also say you should read Monstrous Regiment at some stage because it *is* fantastic.

Darla D said...

Thanks, Cath! I intend to eventually read them all, but as I said I'm hooked on these audio books now! I hope they'll come out with more, because they are so much better when Stephen Briggs reads them. I have a pretty good internal narrator, but even so, it can't compete with the Pratchett/Briggs combo. I should just email Nymeth with a list of the Pratchetts I've read and let her tell me the best order of reading the rest. She can be my Pratchett cruise director. :-)