Making Money is the latest Terry Pratchett Discworld book, and it’s yet another winner in this increasingly engaging fantasy series. It’s a direct sequel to Going Postal, furthering the adventures of former con man Moist Van Lipwig, who got the Post Office working in the previous book. This time, he’s going to be in charge of improving the money system, and once again Pratchett is in “can’t miss” mode. This book is well-written, hilarious at times, and worth every penny.
The Post Office is running at peak efficiency, he’s engaged to a lovely, vivacious woman, and Moist Van Lipwig can’t think of how his life could be any better, though boredom has brought out the latent burglar in him. However, Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city of Ankh-Morpork, has some thoughts about Van Lipwig being in charge of the city’s bank. That doesn’t sit well with the family that currently owns the bank, the Lavish family. The idea of paper money not based on gold, is absurd, isn’t it? Not to mention that, if this idea catches on and Moist becomes popular, they’ll lose all semblance of power they might have. And we can’t have that, can we?
Once again, the combination of Pratchett’s prose and characters makes for a fun outing with some societal comment as well. In recent books, Pratchett has returned to the former balance between humor and commentary in many of his older books, and Making Money is further along those lines. Many of the situations could be real (though obviously there couldn’t be any trolls or golems) except that they’re twisted 90 degrees to become borderline absurd. All throughout Pratchett’s digression on how a city’s economy works, I was thinking how annoyed I usually get at information dumps, yet how entertaining Pratchett makes them.
While Moist is the main character, once again Lord Vetinari steals the show. Vetinari, the “benevolent tyrant” (and if you’re going to have a tyrant in charge, he should at least be looking out for you), is witty, intelligent, able to see two steps ahead of anybody else, and a joy to read about. His dialogue is crisp, and I found myself laughing out loud many times when he was on the scene.
Moist: “But I don’t know anything about running a bank!”As usual, Moist and Adora are also priceless characters, but Pratchett excels at the new ones as well. Mr. Bent, who really runs the bank, is a humorless git whose life revolves around numbers. Numbers speak to him in a way that most would find rather insane. He’s never made a mistake, and he runs the bank with ruthless efficiency. However, he harbors a secret past that would rattle his employees if they knew about it. He’s the perfect straight man, and Pratchett at first left me wondering then totally surprised me with what that secret was.
Vetinari: “Good. No preconceived ideas.”
Moist: “I’ve robbed banks!”
Vetinari: “Capital! Just reverse your thinking. The money should be on the inside.”
Not quite as successful but still very good are the two main Lavish family members, Cosmo and Pucci. They are pretty much insane, and while their insanity does have it humorous moments (Cosmo is trying to actually become Vetinari, for example), I do wish Pratchett would lay off the insane villain for a while. For some reason, that makes the threat less credible in Pratchett’s books, and I didn’t feel as much tension for Moist as I probably would have otherwise. That’s not to say that Pratchett does a horrible job with them, as they are both still quite funny and entertaining. It would just be nice to have something different occasionally.
Oddly enough, Making Money is one of the more adult Discworld books. There’s nothing especially bad in the book (it’s more innuendo than anything else), but there are also a couple of swear words in it. When they discover the habits of the former head of the bank, those habits are actually quite shocking compared to previous Pratchett books. Whether this has anything to do with some of the other ways that the Moist books are unique (such as the inclusion of chapters, something Pratchett never does except in the previous Moist book), I don’t know. I did find myself surprised quite a bit in this book, though.
All in all, Making Money is a wonderful addition to the Discworld franchise. Humor, real-world concepts and interesting characters makes this a book that’s hard to put down. You don’t even have to be a fantasy fan to be riveted. I know my wife isn’t, and she loves the books, too. Yes, there are a few fantasy elements (such as the wonderful “female” golem named Gladys who seems to see herself as Moist’s personal assistant and has become addicted to women’s magazines), but it’s what they represent that’s important - what they represent is yet another great book.