To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it's soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.
Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work - as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital, but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don't always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse.
Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi' t'flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he's going to stop it all going off the rails.
Reviewed on 30th November 2013
Terry Pratchett's fortieth Discworld novel sees the world take a dramatic new turn in its industrial revolution, led in this instance by the reappearing Moist von Lipwig.
The author has clearly done a lot of research, which makes this feel an incredibly realistic story, and it's almost as if the quality of the humour is back to the standard that I very much enjoyed in his earlier novels. I was constantly tittering to myself as I read, and really enjoyed reading slowly and taking everything in - not something I often do with new books.
The plot is extensive and complicated, and although the flow of time in the story isn't always perfectly clear - it takes place over what seems a much longer period than most Discworld novels - it moves the plot on at a good pace. Pratchett's mastery of foreshadowing means that developments feel natural throughout yet remain surprising.
Truly a classic novel from the master of meaningful comic fantasy, that doubtlessly explores far more than just one reading can take in. I loved the previous two Moist stories and this is up there with those. Very much enjoyed.