Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett

Another Discworld novel! This one preceeds the Moist Von Lipwig sequence that I've started, so I thought I'd get it in before going any further.

The main plot is about war. Terry doesn't like war, and he's dealt with it before in books like Jingo, from a slightly oblique angle. Despite war being horrible, he manages to make the plot not horrible, and the soldiers involved not horrible, even when they've had a whole career of killing people horribly. There's a feeling that war is just the inevitable result of the stupidity of humans (and dwarves and elves and trolls and the undead and...). This is helpful, as the war is just a setting for the real subject matter...

The book is really about sexism and gender roles, and what's deemed acceptable in society and how that can change. It's the story of a girl who pretends to be a boy to join the army and find her lost brother, which is something of a well-worn trope, but Pratchett instills it with new life and provides enough twist to it to keep it fresh.

It's nice to see some of the other characters back. William de Worde is now acting as a war correspondent, and Vimes is Ankh-Morpork's representative. It's not a Vimes novel, but he's not as opaque here as he is to de Worde or Von Lipwig. He's maybe a little Vetanari Junior here, wearily steering the fate of minor countries.

I don't want to go into the plot much, as it feels a little more spoiler-y than usual, but it's solidly enjoyable, and fits the mould for a late Pratchett. As with some of his other books on war the ending feels a little ambiguous, but it holds together well.

Posted 2021-10-14.