Terry Pratchett. Monstrous Regiment – review
Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took more time… And now she’s enlisted in the army, and is searching for her lost brother. There’s always a war on. And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it, without any training, and the enemy is hunting them.
With this book Pratchett adds another exciting topic to Discworld: women’s rights. Well, it’s all about equal rights of men and women and how the two sexes get along. They don’t really always get along that well, that is something we all know but with the beautiful country of Borogravia it is even more complicated. It is at war.
First off I would like to come up with a (typically German) piece of criticism. It is not about the book per se but about the title translation. In German it is called Weiberregiment (Weiber is an old-fashioned word for women, anything from viragoes to wives to chicks – it tends to be a bit derogatory) and with that it gives away the central idea of the story. It is not a Monstrous regiment that goes to war (overlooking the fact that vampires and trolls are present) but a regiment of women (well, female beings would be more correct. Trollettes and vampire ladies are not necessarily women in the very since of the word.) Yes, that’s right – and every single one of them has a personal reason to go to war.
For many years battles have raged at the border of Borogravia and Zlobenia. Polly Perks is looking for her brother and enlists with the 10th Foot Regiment, the “Ins-and-Outs.” With Sergeant Jackrum there are plenty more of new recruits including troll Carborundum and vampire Maladict. This colourful group gets fitted out and has to realise that the war is basically over. They are the very last recruits Borogravia has to offer.
Lieutenant Blouse becomes their officer leading them to the front but he does not really deserve that title. He used to be with the army’s administration, sitting comfortably behind a huge desk and he actually manages to cut himself while practicing his (non-existant) swordsmanship. Things look bleak and in that moment a Zlobenian cavalry patrol turns up…
Things start to get hectic. The enemy has surrounded the remains of Borogravia’s army but it not strong enough to force its victory – the castle at the Kneck turns it all into a stalemate. But there seems to be a traitor in the regiment’s ranks and Polly finds out that the rest of the gang are not quite what they seem. One after another gives herself away and together they set out to to fulfil their dreams and find new hope.
|Woman||Seargent Jackrum||*grin*||Save Borogravia|
When trading is seriously disrupted the Grand old Lady of Major Cities on the Discworld gets going. Against the Duchess of Borogravia and the weird God Nuggan, suffering from dementia, with his even weirder laws there is now Zlobenia’s megalomaniac of a Duke and his victorious army – and Ankh-Morpork.
Terry Pratchett (and his wife Lyn) have done it again. A wonderfully quick-paced, entertaining story with a hint of social criticism. His typical puns (Plotz, Crotz, Drok, Munz, Derp and Glitz are town names, indeed!) and funny remarks (“A woman always has half an onion left over, no matter what the size of the onion, the dish or the woman”. page 175) are convincing from beginning to end.
Errant zombies, coffee-addicted vampires and a ravishing werewolf are a 100% guarantee for laughs. However, with all my sympathy (and being a Pratchett fan) I still get that feeling that something is just a tiny little bit off (find out more about Pterry at this site). Well, the book is a darn good read, the story is well-craffted and the good ol’ dark humour rears its ugly and hilarious head several times but … somehow there is something missing. I cannot really pinpoint it – I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and do definitely suggest it as your next read. It might just be that I love Rincewind’s slapstick to much to fathom the newer subtleties of Discworld.
Note Marks are given according to German school system. 1 = very good, 6 = horrendous.
- Action 3
- Comedy 1-2
- Closeness to reality 5
- Complexity 3
- Worth reading 2
Author Pratchett, Terry. Publisher Corgi. Format Paperback. Price Ca. 10 Euro. Edition ? (’04), 1st ed. 2003.
Read September 2004. Pages 494.