Short book reviews

Har­ry Pot­ter and the Half-Blood Prince
J. K. Rowling

Like every­one else on the net, I found this to be a dark­er work than what came before. There were few­er descrip­tive pas­sages this time around, which allowed a greater focus on the action. I under­stand that, at 1Gsec+ of age, I’m not the tar­get audi­ence for this book, and that the tar­get audi­ence prob­a­bly has read the pre­ced­ing five books mul­ti­ple times apiece, but there were sec­tions where I was con­fused by the way pre­vi­ous events and minor char­ac­ters from the pre­ced­ing books cropped up with­out announce­ment or expla­na­tion. Oh well.

My oth­er major com­plaint is that, for all that the books seem to be about per­son­al growth, etc, Har­ry Pot­ter does­n’t seem any more mature at the end than he did at the start. It’s like he’s will­ful­ly remain­ing an obsti­nate child for plot pur­pos­es. Then again, he is sev­en­teen years old, so maybe it’s not that far-fetched…

I’ll read the sev­enth one, too, to see how it all turns out, and then I’ll prob­a­bly set them all on the shelf and let the dust collect.

Going Postal
Ter­ry Pratchett

Res­cued from cer­atin death by a most unlike­ly angel, Moist von Lip­wig* is offered a job. And not just any job, either: a gov­ern­ment job. Lord Veti­nari, Patri­cian of Ankh-Mor­pork, is offer­ing Moist a choice: he can take on the man­tle of Post­mas­ter Gen­er­al for the city, or he can step out a door that leads to a thou­sand-foot fall. Lord Veti­nari believes in choic­es.

Moist takes the job, plan­ning to return to his swin­dling ways as soon as he can. What he does­n’t count on is his “parole offi­cer”, a golem named Mr. Pump, and a whole assort­ment of odd char­ac­ters that peo­ples this novel.

In short order, he’s invent­ing stamp col­lec­tors, tripling atten­dance at local tem­ples, and chal­leng­ing the man who runs the clacks** to a two-thou­sand-mile deliv­ery race.

I thor­ough­ly enjoyed this out­ing into the Dis­c­world’s unique uni­verse. The char­ac­ters were sharply drawn, major and minor alike, be they human, golem, or oth­er­wise. Veti­nari, long one of my favourites, plays a sig­nif­i­cant role, and it’s fun to watch him work. (“I’m a tyrant,” he tells one char­ac­ter, who protests that the Patri­cian has over­stepped his author­i­ty. “It’s what I do.”) Along the way, old famil­iar faces crop up: Cap­tain Car­rot Iron­founder­s­son of the Watch, Archchan­cel­lor Mus­trum Rid­cul­ly and the var­i­ous oth­er wiz­ards of Unseen Uni­ver­si­ty, Hex the think­ing machine, and others.

A lot of fun, and under the laughs, there’s a fair­ly seri­ous look at some of the trou­bles that plague the our-world ver­sion of the clacks system.

* His real name.
** An inter­net ana­logue, with sem­a­phore towers.

2 thoughts on “Short book reviews

  1. I’m a big fan of Veti­nari, too. Loved the back sto­ry Pratch­ett gave him in Night Watch.

    Pratch­ett is one of my favorite authors because he pro­vides such sat­is­fy­ing enter­tain­ment — humor, great char­ac­ters, some action, and poignan­cy. I think Night Watch is his mas­ter­piece, from the 6 or 7 (or 8 or 9) Dis­c­world books I’ve read. Some­times the sto­ries sprawl and mean­der — I seem to recall that Hog­fa­ther suf­fered from that.

  2. I think I’ve read most of the Dis­c­world books, and to be hon­est, while there are some than shine brighter than oth­ers, I’ve found some­thing in every sin­gle one that I love. In Hog­fa­ther, for instance, it’s the con­ver­sa­tion between Death and Alfred, just after Death has stolen the rich men’s sup­pers and dis­trib­uted them to the poor. (And in the inter­ests of dis­clo­sure, I have to say my favourite char­ac­ter in the series would have to be Death incarnate.)

Comments are closed.