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Comments for Raising Steam

Raising Steam: 06/30/14

cover art

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett is the 40th Discworld book and the third one to feature Moist von Lipwig and Adora Belle "Spike" Dearheart. Whether the Disc is ready or not for steam, steam is here. Lord Vetinari will be the one to see steam come to maturity and he's pegged Lipwig to be the man to do it.

Dick Simnel, of Uberwald, who understands the math behind steam, has created the first working engine, a locomotive he's named Iron Girder. With his mother's seed money and the further backing of Harry King, Simnel is set to take Ankh-Morpork by storm.

Meanwhile there is unrest among the dwarfs that threatens to boil over into human, troll, and goblin society. Iron Girder and the other trains are going to cut right through all this tension.

In the previous Moist von Lipwig books, there are chapter breaks that set very definite points of progress in Lipwig's current venture. Here though, Moist and Spike are part of a much larger ensemble. Therefore the chapter breaks are gone and the story is told in the meandering back and forth style of the majority of the Discworld books. Moist shares the spotlight with Simnel, Iron Girder, Twilight of the Darkness, the Low King, Sam Vimes and so forth.

And then there's the Low King, whose story which takes the last half of the book, brings back all sorts of previous themes of duty, station, gender roles, personal and private lives, into one marvelous story. Though all the clues are there, this part of the book took me by surprise because I was so focused on the married life of Moist and Spike, and on the growing sentiency of Iron Girder.

Now this is one of those books where I own two copies: a lovely hardback for re-reading specific scenes, and the audiobook read by Stephen Briggs. Briggs's performance helps me delve deeper into Pratchett's words, something I often miss when I read them in print because I do get into the habit of skimming.

Five stars

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