And Then I Read: GOING POSTAL by Terry Pratchett


The leader of the Discword city of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, has an interesting method of hiring high-ranking government officials. He appoints condemned criminals. Moist von Lipwig is one, a clever con-man whose career of crime has brought him to a dead end, literally. Or, he can become the new Postmaster General of Ankh-Morpork. Seems like an easy choice, but as Moist soon finds out, the postal service is not only defunct, the very building he’s supposed to run is crumbling, rotting, and filled to the rafters with undelivered mail. Moist tries to run for it, but Lord Vetinari has appointed a tenacious warden — a very strong and unkillable golem named Pump. Wisely, Moist decides to make the best of it.

The decline of the mail service is due to a new and much faster system of sending messages called Clacks, a complex system of visual semaphore sent from tower to tower across the country. That system also has it’s problems, due to mismanagement and failing equipment, and Moist sees a chance to gain traction by challenging the Clacks and their owner, promoting the mail as a much cheaper and (somehow) faster service. Moist is at home with the kind of scam this seems to be, or is it? With help from his very aged employees, Pump and his golem friends, and other unexpected allies, Moist actually might make a go of this mail thing. And the invention of the postage stamp is just the kind of racket he knows well — it’s as good as printing money, especially when people start collecting the stamps instead of using them. But Reacher Gilt, the pirate in control of the Clacks, has other ideas…

Great read, not only clever and insightful, but often very funny. The characters are more than punchlines, though, and their struggles against bureaucracy and human nature are epic. As a former stamp collector, this book delighted me, but I think it would appeal to almost anyone. Highly recommended.

Going Postal by Terry Pratchett

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