Moist von Lipwig makes another appearance in the Discworld series.
In this adventure we find him as the incumbent Postmaster General, bored with the routine and climbing the walls – literally. Then his cosy, and boring, life comes to an end with an offer from the Patrician of a new challenge as Master of The Royal Mint.
In a seemingly pre-planned trap, Moist is launched into the role as Master of the Mint and new owner of the Chairman of The Royal Bank of Ankh-Morpork by the death of an astute little old lady, Topsy Lavish, née Turvy.
The Lavish family are renowned for being nasty and so it is with Cosmo and Pucci, the children of Sir Joshua Lavish, Topsy’s previously deceased husband. They are not the sort to let the family bank wander off into the hands of a stranger, and so begins the scheming for the ousting of Moist. Of course Moist is reluctant to take up his new role, but a contract with the Assassins Guild puts an end to that idea and therefore he grabs the opportunity with both hands and his run-away mouth.
In the process of modernising banking the Chief Cashier, Mr Bent, takes a funny turn in more ways than one. Adora Belle Dearheart returns with a little something from her latest Golem Trust venture, and the question of Golem gender is put to the test by Gladys. Throw in a cameo performance by an Igor and you have a full complement of interesting ideas and situations.
It all comes to a climax with Moist up on suspicion of stealing the bank’s gold bullion, Umnian golems, pineapple pies and the golden suit.
And at the end, the Ankh-Morpork economy moves from the gold standard to the golem standard.
This is probably the most grown-up feeling of Discworld stories that I have read for a little while. That may be because the last few I have read have been about Tiffany Aching and The Wee Free Men. But equally it may be because of the mention of black, leathery and rubbery items as well as Professor Flead and the Pink PussyCat Club.
It is also the first in the series where I have come across a couple of unfamiliar words that have sent me to my dictionary and then eventually on to Google. One of those is now a favourite, gongfermor, that I plan to slip into general conversation in the near future. As we have been renovating and there has been a Port-a-Loo on site for the builders, it shouldn’t be too hard.
The story was easy going stuff. It wasn’t particularly challenging, and at times I did wonder where it was all leading to. So I can’t say that I found it engrossing or exciting as such. It did feel like we were getting a bit more insight into a few of the regular characters, including the Patrician and C.M.O.T. Dibbler, whom we find out the elusive first names of. And as usual you can count on excellent turns of phrase for a good giggle throughout. A few that caught my eye were:
Vetinari to Moist:
“The city bleeds, Mr Lipwig, and you are the clot I need.”
Harry King to Moist:
“You’re more full of bullshit than a frightened herd on fresh pasture, Mr Lipwig.”
Vetinari in The Blind Letter office:
“‘I think it is just a matter of getting into the mind of the writer,’ Vetinari went on, looking at a letter covered with grubby fingerprints and what looked like the remains of someone’s breakfast. He added: ‘In some cases, I imagine, there is a lot of room.'”
Unfortunately I can’t rate this at more than a two out of five, as much as I love the Discworld and Terry Pratchett’s writing. It just didn’t quite do it for me. My recommendation: borrow it from the library before you commit to buying it, that way you may just save yourself some money.