Book Review – Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
To begin with I was worried that Pterry had lost his touch. This book is somewhat different to the earlier discworld stories in that it lacks a geographic focus, however once I got into it I realised that this was because the coming of the railway means that the world is so much smaller. The focus in this book isn’t a handful of characters in a limited environment, but the handful of characters spread all over the area covered by the trains. The introduction of steam to the discworld gives it a very 19th century feel. Somehow this does it in a way that the clacks didn’t.
The main protagonist is Moist von Lipwig but Vetinari, Vimes and the Watch feature as support along with dwarves and goblins. Unusually there is quite a lot of Vetinari in it, more than the usual cameo piece at the beginning and end of the story. There is also a development of his office and how it works to keep him in power, and to keep the peace. There is a little feeling of tying up some loose ends, and trying to broaden some of the supporting cast. Drumknott becomes interested, or rather obsessed, by the trains.
The Dwarves feature as one of the main plot elements, the Low King of the Dwarves is a progressive moderniser. Many traditionalists fear the changes, and use very cynical means to oppose them. Much of this is drawn from present day radicalisation, and the moral of the story is very much about not being able to stop progress, the best one can hope for is to harness it for good.
You need to have read the previous works in the series to get some of the continuity, although I am pretty sure that it would work if you haven’t. One thing I did notice though was Raising Steam wasn’t laugh out loud material, I had quite a few little smiles as I read, but it wasn’t the comedy in some of the works. Perhaps a little more serious, but still light hearted and an entertaining read.