Making Money by Terry Pratchett

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Making Money by Terry Pratchett

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: Master of the Mint and Deputy Chairman of the Bank...what a dream job! But when the job offer comes with an emphatic note from the Assassin's guild, the computer in the cellar goes Gloop, you think you're about to be blackmailed, your chief of staff might just be a vampire and one of your directors has a strange fetish for vetinarian accoutrements...the really dull life at the Post Office has its attractions. A superb premise not fully exploited.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: September 2007
Publisher: Doubleday
ISBN: 978-0385611015

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The problem with trying to break into the apartment of the Postmaster General... is that once you've done it you're home and dry. Well, if you're Moist von Lipwig, you are at least 'home'.

There's no avoiding it... life since he wasn't hung for being Albert Spangler had had its moments. (See Going Postal) Not all of them especially pleasant moments, but most definitely MOMENTS! Now... especially when Adora was away rescuing Golems, and the clacks clacked away efficiently and even the night mail ran nightly... it just wasn't the same.

Moist might not yet be willing to admit it, but he's bored. Not quite to the point of welcoming a meeting with the Patrician but almost.

The Patrician, Vetinari to you and me, has a plan. Which doesn't at all involve nationalising the Royal Bank. But wouldn't Moist relish the challenge of getting it back on its feet?

Not really.

As Discworld familiars will know: you do not say 'not really' to the Patrician. You're likely to get the Angels speech again... or maybe the one about rope. Ok, so you do a deal and you walk away... and you know that isn't the end of it.

So by dint of a timely death, the ancient magic of being left 50% of the shares and the unfailing good judgement of Mr Fusspot our Postmaster General finds himself de facto deputy chairman of the bank and Master of the Royal Mint.

Oh goody!

Only the Mint is losing money... coinage costs more than its face value to make and regular crashes or at least dings in the economy means that trust in the banks is somewhat limited. It takes a person like Moist to see that the real problem is that the banks trust in the people is what is really limited and reversing that is the start of the turnaround.

Yeah. Right. Come on... we know Discworld better than that. It is a much clearer reflection of the real world than that... but then Moist von Lipwig is a conman.

Thus is the scene set for the latest Prachettian take on the absurdity of civilisation as we know it. His target this time: the banks, the money supply, and the economy in general. The premise is sound and there should be scope for classic Ankhmorporkian enlightenment.

The problem is: our own world of finance is even more absurd than the Discworld. You cannot, as they say, make it up. The exposition of the notion of the promissory note, the deconstruction of the value of gold and therefore the gold- (or any other-) standard is intrinsically funny... but once you've actually sat in a lecture hall and heard all of this explained quite earnestly... it becomes one of those jokes that you can't help feeling are on you.

Or perhaps it's that to really get to twist the absurdity back into humour you need to use much more of the complications, which might just make the whole thing unintelligible to non-accountants, non-economists... which might result in a funnier book, but not necessarily one the author or the readers understand, so not good for sales.

By his own admission the book rests on some fairly old jokes: on dogs with inappropriate toys, Time & Motion studies, differently normal etc... most of which, it has to be said, are well told and do continue to work. It is fun and it is, in places, funny. But it's nowhere near the best of the series.

Not vintage Pratchett then... but still quirky enough to hold the attention to read it at a sitting. In the usual fashion the sideline stories are as amusing as the main event, in particular the personal development of Gladys (a traditionally non-gender Golem) and the slow descent into madness of Cosmo Lavish.

The Watch make a cameo appearance, which Angua will never live down and the journalists and lawyers earn their customary fees in customary fashion. Vetinari is trying to keep up the tyrant image with the odd hanging, and the gallery of death-masks but really he needs to do something unspeakably horrible to someone soon... I'm beginning to like the man way too much.

If one looks past the jokes, as I've learned one should when reading Mr P, what is Making Money about? It's not really about finance - but about trust. The message is that what the whole world turns on isn't actually money, it's faith. We need to trust that the system will work, and so long as we believe it will, it does. As soon as we stop believing in it... it falters.

So should you read it? If you're a Discworld fan definitely, if you're not it's not one to start with - you'll miss a lot of the running gags if you don't read the early Watch series or least Going Postal first. Amusing rather than hilarious. I've also got a sneaking suspicion that the whole thing is an elaborate introduction to the next one.

If you like Pratchett and haven't yet discovered Christopher Moore, you should! Try Dirty Job. You might also enjoy The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Series) by Genevieve Cogman.

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Jill said:

I've always laughed at "I promise to pay the bearer" - pay the bearer what? Money supply is indeed the most ludicrous invention of man. People die for lack of an artificial construct - won and lost by other people betting on what doesn't exist. A far sadder world indeed than the Discworld.

Claire Holtry said:

it is great that you can read TP on two levels. There is the humorous, silly jokes and strange personalities side and the 'is he making a point' side.

I think that this is a book for a wet Saturday afternoon, just enjoy it for what it is.

Lucy Beadle said:

I love Terry Pratchett and I think that this is an exemplary sample of his work. Brilliant, humorous and fast paced also a wonderful continuation from Going Postal, for those familiar with the Pratchett style of writing I would say that this is one of his smoothest. His style has really developed over his amazing years as an author and I think this is clear signs of his talent that continues to evolve perfectly. I would definitely give this five out of five but would agree that those who haven't jumped in on Pratchett should start a little earlier down the list of books, perhaps with Guards Guards. Either way a sweet read guaranteed to smooth your day with a booty smile lol

Thanks Book Bag :)

Lucy Beadle