The forty first Discworld novel came out this past November, and I have been waiting to read it for quite some time. But, I was able to get the audiobook (read by Stephen Briggs, who is a Discworld institution in his own right) through Overdrive Media, which lets me borrow e-books and audiobooks through my library.
This book ended up being remarkably complexly simple. It’s remarkable in the scope of how much it affects the entirety of the DIsc. It starts in the legendary city of Ankh-Morpork, then spreads through Sto Lat to Quirm, then on to even the far reaches of Ubervald, with dreams of expanding to Genoa.
Secondly, it’s complex. I was originally excited because it was a Moist Von Lipwig story, and he’s been one of the most amazing characters in the series. (The other Moist [heh] stories are this one and this one). But, once you start digging into Raising Steam, it’s not just a Moist Von Lipwig story, but it’s also Dick Simnal’s story. Then again, isn’t it also Harry King’s story? Or Lord Vetinari’s or Rhys Rhysson’s story? Commander Vimes? Even Drumknott’s, for that matter? Here’s probably the overarching reason everyone should love Terry Pratchett. He’s creating a full and complete world. He can’t talk about creating the steam engine in Ankh-Morpork without telling the story of the steam engine in the entire disc. How else could he have created a single series of books forty books long without getting boring? He lets us explore the whole world. It would be quite the sight to see the notes and outlines and storyboards that Terry Pratchett uses to create his novels and make sure every character who would interact with a given idea.
Finally, the book is simple in that almost all of the characters are well established. Unless Raising Steam is the first Discworld novel you read, you’re probably well familiar with almost everyone, and this is just an extension of their natural lives on the Disc. Just add a new thread of idea and shake up the cast of characters already in existence in a mixer as only Terry Pratchett can and viola! Another great novel.
So, the sum up of the novel: A young inventor enters the epic city of Ankh-Morpork with the first ever steam engine. Before the technology runs rampant, Lord Vetinari, tyrant of the great city, sets Moist Von Lipwig as an investor and government watchdog over the growing railway. Meanwhile, the dwarves are having to deal with gangs that see the railroad as another un-dwarfish thing to get rid of, which threatens the Koom Valley Accord and the peace between the trolls and dwarves.
This is one of those books that are just about perfect. A perfect book will leave a reader with the twin feelings of contentment and longing all in the same moment. So, I give it 4.65 out of 5 stars.