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123 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, but still Discworld
The majority of the negative reviews on here - in particular the WONDERFUL review by A Nailor - kudos to you, that is the best review I've read on Amazon - aren't entirely wrong. I can completely understand why people are saying that the language, the characterisation, the plotting are all slightly... well, off. This has been true to a greater or lesser extent of all his...
Published 9 months ago by Steve Gardiner

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite But Almost
This one is a good 3 1/2 stars but not quite a 4.

Raising Steam is the Fortieth, four-zero, Discworld novel. A hugely impressive fact especially when you consider that Terry Pratchett only published the first in 1983 and didn't decide to take a full-time swing at it and follow that up until 1986 AND found time to complete a further dozen plus non-Discworld...
Published 2 months ago by Tony Hill


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123 of 133 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, but still Discworld, 14 Nov 2013
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The majority of the negative reviews on here - in particular the WONDERFUL review by A Nailor - kudos to you, that is the best review I've read on Amazon - aren't entirely wrong. I can completely understand why people are saying that the language, the characterisation, the plotting are all slightly... well, off. This has been true to a greater or lesser extent of all his novels since Monstrous Regiment, and may be (I'm really not sure) a result of Terry having to accommodate the use of speech recognition software in dictation of the novels. Certainly, they are very different animals from the earlier novels, which are much easier to read and full of snappy dialogue and splendid jokes.

So why am I giving this 5 stars? I certainly struggled through the first hundred pages, and felt my heart sinking more and more at the long and convoluted sentences, and the rather jarring scenes which seemed to have little to do with the plot.

But then, something just clicked. I slowed down my reading (and in fact went back to the beginning and reread it with a different mindset). Yes, it's not the same old Discworld, but underneath that it is still the product of the superb mind of Terry Pratchett. It took a lot of effort, but I could see what he was doing, and began to appreciate it. The humour is still there, if not so obvious and instantly accessible.

There's less overt magic, which as a fantasy addict I regret, but this is a grown-up Discworld, where magic is gradually giving way to the increasing industrialisation of Ankh-Morpork.

Do I miss the old Pratchett? Yes, of course. But this is a new phase in the developing world, and I'm glad that Terry Pratchett is still giving us valuable new insights into human (and other species) behaviour. Long may he continue to do so!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite But Almost, 9 Jun 2014
This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
This one is a good 3 1/2 stars but not quite a 4.

Raising Steam is the Fortieth, four-zero, Discworld novel. A hugely impressive fact especially when you consider that Terry Pratchett only published the first in 1983 and didn't decide to take a full-time swing at it and follow that up until 1986 AND found time to complete a further dozen plus non-Discworld books (not to mention the numerous Science of Discworld and other such accompanying works).

As with any series of work, fans are prone to point to different entries as "the best" or "not as good as..." while reminiscing about the days when the Witches weren't resigned to the 'for young readers' books and Rincewind would make an appearance in anything other than footnotes (that being said, any fan will tell you that Pratchett's footnotes are the stuff of legend). There is a distinctive difference between the style of recent Discworld novels and those of, say, pre- Fifth Elephant. With a few notable exceptions (Last Hero, Nightwatch, Monstrous Regiment - the 'Vimes' books it seems are the last bastion of 'grit'), the books have certainly referenced previous novels and hinted at the past yet seemed less involved, lighter.

Raising Steam is just such a book. It nods toward Discworld novels past and depth (the darkness of the Grags and the friction among generations of dwarfs and Dirk Simnel is the son of Reaper Man's Ned Simnel) yet uses brush strokes far too wide to fill in too much detail and just as it appears that we may be reaching a thrilling, involving plot, it's all over but for a medal ceremony.

It's impossible to read a Terry Pratchett book these days (especially the 40th Discworld novel) without two factors clouding judgement - the legacy of brilliance of earlier Discworld novels and the impact (or looking for clues of it) of his Alzheimer's disease. This is a shame but those elements which prevent Raising Steam scoring higher reviews are likely drawn from the consequences of just such factors.

I'd love to see Pratchett approach a story across more than the one book again, to not feel the need to wrap everything up into a neat little, Patrician-knew-everything-all-along entry, really let something occur that took more than one novel to resolve. But then, it's not my Discworld it's his.

For all it's could-ofs and should-haves, any Discworld novel is full of humour and wordplay and Raising Steam is no exception. While not quite the romp of previous entries into the Discworld series, the fortieth (I do hope we get to fiftieth) is an enjoyable read that at the very least opens avenues for further novels to explore with a few chuckles along the way.
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385 of 453 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book will break your heart..., 8 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
... And not really in the good way. On the quite unlikely chance that Terry ever reads this, I don't blame him and I'm not even mad. I am very happy for him to have my 10; he deserves it and more. I wish him only the best, and would have happily given him the 10 if he asked for it, without particularly wanting or needing to finish the book.

I finished the book and felt like I'd just been to a funeral.

Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a globally beloved institution, for good reason. He is to fantasy what Douglas Adams is to science fiction. Sadly, the 40th book of the Discworld is pretty much like Eoin Colfer's ghastly resurrection of the Hitchhiker's Guide series, only slightly worse. Colfer just didn't GET Adams and his humor, on a molecular level, so you weren't too bothered by it conflicting with your own nostalgia - you just accepted that you had paid your money for a bit of fanfiction. This is rather like buying the Officially Licensed Eighth Harry Potter Book to find that it's an alternate-universe tale of Harry laboriously taking public transport for two hundred pages while monologuing about the Industrial Revolution, and Frodo Baggins shows up near the end and breaks the fourth wall to explain to you that this is all very funny and satirical. And it's written by Dan Brown. For the young-adult market. You don't mind what's happening; you're just slightly puzzled, wondering why everyone is out of character and when the story is going to start. It's not actually BAD, it's just maybe not what you wanted.

This book echoes Discworld in its pedigree, but the prose has no engine behind it, no driving energy, no romp down a passing train of thought that suddenly sidetracks and opens up into a startling view, no diamonds in the coal seam, no clever twists of sentences that suddenly rear up and look you in the eye, no tunneling journeys into human nature, no clever bridges from one scene to the next, no non-sequiturs that turn out to be actually very meaningful, no sly tearing down of the status quo, no light at the end of the tunnel, no magic, no wonder, no satire, no sapphires. It has very little steam to lose, and it loses it. It makes me extremely sad to write this, but there it is.*

If you're an overly-dedicated and optimistic Pratchett fan like me, and you had this book on Kindle pre-order since it became available, then enjoy it as best you can. There is some charm here; in tone and twists it's, surprisingly, rather like a Trisha Ashley novel about middle-aged women finding love in a Lancashire village; you'll read it. It will also complete your collection nicely, and you will probably want to do that anyway. I understand that you'll want the closure and the completion of the series. Come over here and sit with me later; we'll commiserate. It was a wonderful run and we have so many good memories to love and share.

If you're a Pratchett fan who decided to wait and haven't purchased it yet, then I would recommend holding off for a while and trying for a good discount price - it's not something you need to rush out and buy in hardcover. In fact, get it from the library and read it on holiday, with your mind half-on-something-else, and with something pleasant to look forward to at the end, like a fancy dinner or a swim; this book will make you sad and put you in that frame of mind where you start contemplating mortality and the passing of flesh and heroes. Have some drinks available. Have my blessing. This is a sad book, not because of the content, but because of our own expectations. And, honestly, our own sense of entitlement. Who are we to demand that the poor man dazzle and delight us for decades upon decades?

If you're not so much of a Pratchett fan, you might conversely have much to enjoy about this book. Without the high expectations and starry eyes of a Discworld aficionado, you won't be disappointed. You'll recognize some of the characters, and the prose definitely brings you from one scene to another, which it is supposed to do. There is a train, and the Patrician, and an ending. It is *definitely* a book. There are many books! This is one! It has a cover and everything.

If you haven't read a Pratchett book before, then don't start with this one - it would be rather like visiting a museum after it's scheduled for demolition - nothing makes sense, the exhibits are being dismantled, you have no idea what's going on or why, inexplicable things are being thrown into dumpsters, and you get the feeling that you're not supposed to be there at all.

Oh, hell, buy it for yourself, do what you've got to do - I understand. I'll wait for you.

*I don't apologize for the train metaphors.
** Demographic information: well-educated 25-year-old female Pratchett fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A much loved theme sadly wearing out :(, 30 July 2014
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Editing and proofing for the Kindle are good to excellent.

Specifically I found the footnotes worked perfectly on my Touch.

Regretfully Raising Steam only affords 3 stars. There are far more eloquent reviews on here from true Pratchett aficionados who can do full justice to critiquing the details.

The discworld tales of Moist and "Modern technology" such as Making Money, Going Postal have an elegance and lightness of touch that is delightful. This, not so much. There is a Dius ex machina feeling that everything springs fully formed that would have been smacked on the head in earlier novels.

It's like going to a concert of an aged favourite performer. It's wonderful, but not a scratch on earlier work :(
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So - farewell, then…?, 24 Dec 2013
By 
No More Mr. Mice Guy (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
Raising Steam, Terry Pratchett, Doubleday, 2013, 375pp.

This is the fortieth Discworld novel, and we seem to have arrived at the Modern World, with the advent of the steam railway and equal rights for all sentient beings (and most humans). What apparently started as a satire on heroic fantasy has evolved into a study of human life and thought – and those of you who are familiar with ‘Cerebus the Aardvark’ will recognise the similar path that really creative writers seem to follow: growth - “The rising and advancing of the spirit”. Though here, unlike Dave Sim (author of the Cerebus series) this author has chosen the humanist path rather than the metaphysical. Can this be the ‘end’ of the main sequence of the Discworld series? As we know, Mr Pratchett has health problems, and this would make a fitting end-point, with peace on Discworld and goodwill to all sentients being the dominant principle. I’d like to see a ‘farewell’ to the Witches, of course; and inspiration might strike again, for where there’s life, etc., etc. But, if this is the end, then it has ended on a high.

The story itself is a ‘standard’ Lipwig plot – someone has an Idea, and it is up to Moist to implement it somehow, or else be thrown to the kittens. There is a wide cast of characters – everyone except the Witches gets a look in or at least a namecheck. There is no magic or supernatural force deployed – if we set aside the actual existence of Golems, Vampires Werewolves and Wizards – this story is about human (and Goblin) ingenuity; and though the supernatural does come to say hello – or farewell - at the end, it plays no significant part in the story. The Discworld has grown up, and Magic has become Romance; as is fitting when steam engines are involved.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Found myself feeling bored around half way through, 26 Nov 2013
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Just a wee bit flat somehow. Not sure what it is. Not so much humour I think. Or humour is not consistent through the story. Something lacking. Found myself feeling bored around half way through.

Was good otherwise. Well written as always. Informative and clever. Good characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Different to Usual, 15 Aug 2014
This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
This book is quite different to previous Discworld books, especially the early ones. This is a book with subtle amusing moments for the reader to reflect upon as opposed to very obvious, laugh out loud humour. It is almost as if Discworld has matured.
Lots of the favourite characters are back in this book - Vetinari, Moist Von Lipwig, Blackboard Monitor Vimes, other members of The Watch. There is plenty of action from Goblins and Dwarfs and even the Golems play an active role.
This book tells of the coming of steam to Ankh Morpork. There is a subtle reference back to Reaper Man which I nearly missed and has made me want to pick up that particular book again and refresh my memory. As has been the case over the centuries, there are people who welcome the new innovation and those who believe that we should remain set in the ways of previous generations. This is the underlying theme of the book with the story on top of this.
There is lots of action in this book including a thrilling fight on top of a moving train - complete with the oncoming tunnel! There is intrigue, spying and a coup to keep the plot moving on.
This book wasn't such a quick read as most of his previous Discworld books. I didn't get carried along on a wave of fantasy, action and humour. This book needs to be read more slowly with thought given to the plot and humour. I was slightly disappointed when I started this book as it wasn't in quite the same vein as previous books but I soon adapted to the change in style and enjoyed this book for what it was rather than what I expected it to be.
So, start this book with an open mind as opposed to having a preconceived idea as to what a Discworld book should be. Then just settle back and enjoy.
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153 of 184 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The weight of expectation, 9 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
I felt compelled to write this review after some of the negative reviews I read on here nearly stopped me from purchasing this novel (which would have been the first Discworld novel I didn't buy on publication since Men at Arms was published and I had just discovered the Discworld at the age of ten via my uncle, another long term fan).

I will say now that I am so far 25% of the way through the book, which doesn't leave me fully qualified to review but perhaps more so than someone who claims to have read 4%, hardly enough for any novel to get going. I have to say, I'm not sure exactly what some of the reviewers are wanting from this book, but I fear that Pratchett must feel akin to the England football team en route to another world cup, with the weight of expectation heaped so high that he can't possibly hope to meet it. Pratchett has written 40 novels in the Discworld series - in any series with that amount of novels, there are going to be some absolute belters and some that are mildly entertaining but not the best book you have ever read. I am going to say now, I struggled to finish Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad and Lords and Ladies and haven't returned to them, whereas I have reread Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, the Fifth Elephant and Thud more times than I could count. The books I didn't like were written by Pratchett a long time ago during a time which is considered by many as the height of the Discworld series (I don't believe there is a height - I think as a series it has fluctuated in quality throughout). This is the point of the Discworld - certain books will appeal to certain people more than others - some people's favourite novels in the series would probably only receive 3 stars from me and vice versa. This is why you have to take the Discworld as a whole, knowing that for every so-so book that appears, another great one will be just around the corner. While I acknowledge that Terry's disease and the impact on his work may prevent another masterpiece, he is still more than capable of entertaining books that add a little more to the Discworld universe.

I will agree that so far, this book has a different narrative style to some of Pratchett's earlier works, though it is not out of line with the last few novels, with less snappy dialogue and more dark introspection. Indeed, the whole tone of the Discworld in recent years has been far darker altogether - perhaps a sign of our times or Pratchett's opinion of them. We all change as we age, becoming perhaps more cynical and less tolerant of humanity and its foibles, and this is bound to be reflected in Pratchett's work.

To say that his work is sloppy and shouldn't be published though is far from correct. The characters that have been introduced so far are all behaving as I would expect them to, the story is jogging along apace and I have been reading as much as my toddler will allow me to, which says a lot as most of my own reading activity has taken a backseat these days to countless renditions of That's not my Tiger. Pratchett is still capable of prose that is far superior to anything most authors manage these days, and I have always felt that a mediocre Pratchett book is still a good book by most standards. If anything, I think that it is more challenging than I have come to expect, with a lot of the references a little more obscure than usual. As a history teacher who has ploughed their way through the GCSE Britain 1815-51 syllabus, I recognise the parallels to railway fever - Pratchett clearly has an interest in the railways matched by the early railway barons and their passengers and he has researched his topic. Some of the complaints of the Ankh-Morpork citizenry are genuine!

Although the railways aren't going to be everyone's cup of tea, I think that the criticisms of some of the other reviewers are overstated and if you are wondering whether to buy this novel as a fan of the Discworld, don't be put off by fears of nostalgic emotional breakdowns in the first few pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad that it is so obvious he didn't really write it, 12 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
I was disappointed that I could tell he had lots of help to write this book. I know that his health does not allow more but better to let it go than keep churning out books for the sake of it.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Discworld at its best - but never write Pratchett off., 13 Nov 2013
By 
D. Harris (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) (Hardcover)
In "Raising Steam", Sir Terry Pratchett revisits familiar themes - the world is changing, whether we like it or not; technology will out; we should welcome that, because change is good. Also: prejudice between the peoples is bad.

In this book, the new technology is the steam railway. The time has finally come to usher in the Discworld's Industrial Revolution. The prejudice is that of traditionalist dwarves, or "grags", as featured in a number of earlier books, against anything they see as non-dwarvish, but particularly against trolls. Pratchett mashes these two themes together, pitting his new railway, which has evolved rapidly, against the cabal of grags.

In earlier books, the new technology might perhaps have met more significant challenges within Ankh Morpork itself and the focus would have been on overcoming them, before it can then be used to achieve the wider purpose. Here, though, only trivial setbacks arise early on and they are easily overcome. Herein, I think, lies a problem. There is no real tension in the first part of the book. It's basically a story of triumph, as the new Hygienic Railway carries all before it. Every problem is foreseen or easily brushed aside. After all, the railway is backed by the realpolitic of Lord Vetinari, the real gold of Harry King, the silver tongue of Moist von Lipwig, and the engineering skills of Dick Simnel, master of the sine, the cosine and the sliding-ruler. If that wasn't enough, there is Iron Girder herself...

That doesn't make it dull, exactly. There is still plenty of Pratchett's characteristic humour and his sharp observation to keep one reading. For example, Moist's adept PR act, rushing to the scene of a disaster to reassure the public and the Press that all was well (maybe Sir Terry is drawing on his days working in PR for the Electricity Board?) Or the episode where a group of children stop the train by waving their petticoats. Or the development of trainspotting as a hobby (following the pin and stamp collectors). And a mini tour of Discworld (with a map! WITH A MAP!) is acceptable reading any day. But still, little really seems to happen.

In the second part of the book events do gather pace as the dwarvish Luddism takes hold. Plots are hatched and the story moves up several gears, with an extended sequence that reminded me of that old film North West Frontier. But while more serious threats come along, I still wasn't in any doubt of the eventual outcome. There is little sense of potential loss or necessary sacrifice. In this, it reminded me of the Long Earth books. Rather than our heroes being outsiders (even temporary outsiders, like Vimes in Snuff) who have to duck and dive and risk loss to get through, they are backed by endless wealth and a powerful corporation wielding advanced technology (for the time) and can hardly fail.

So, for me, this is far from the best of the Discworld books. Yes, Pratchett, even off form, still beats most authors hands down, so this is well worth reading and a must-have, obviously, for real fans. But it's a shame that the standard of Snuff and Unseen Academicals isn't maintained. Which brings me to the (6th?) elephant in the room - whether, in judging this book one should make allowances for what one might suppose to be the effect of Terry's horrible illness, putting any flaws in the book down to that (which would suggest the outlook is poor) or whether the reviewer should ignore it. It's a tricky question. I tend to feel books should be judged on their own merits, regardless of sympathy for the author's situation (and I have a huge amount of sympathy, and admiration for Sir Terry's continuing to write despite his problems).

Actually, though, I'm far from convinced that the problems with "Raising Steam" (and some others don't see them - look at all the reviews that just say "it's great!") are anything to do with the author's health, or to the fact that he has to work in a different way, or whatever. No, that's not enough. I don't believe that is the case at all, and I think assuming so may actually be a bit patronising (even if that's not intended). The Discworld books have never been even (that's one of their joys). Some are much better than others. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to see some misses among the hits. And as I said above, the most recent ones are - in my view - among the best. I'd draw a comparison with one of my other favourite authors, George Orwell. He was dying of TB when he wrote his last published work, Nineteen-Eighty Four. It IS a gloomy book, and critics sometime paint it as Orwell's last, despairing testament, influenced by his condition. Yet I've read that after finishing it he started another work, quite different in tone. Had he lived longer, Nineteen-Eighty Four would not have been his last work. It's too easy to carry across what we know about the author into an assessment of their writing.

Even if this book isn't a "blip" it may simply be that the Discworld concept is - sorry about the pun - just running out of steam, after 40 books. Indeed, bringing in something as transformational as steam power may actually signal the end - after all, from here it must be technology all the way, mustn't it? What space now for magic and cheerful anarchy - instead we've the sliding-ruler of Mr Simnel and the railway timetable to steer us into a shiny new future. Just what Lord Vetinari has been aiming for, but possibly not so much fun to read.

That would be sad if true, though it would still leave us the most wonderful series of books since P G Wodehouse was writing. But I don't believe this has to be the end. Let's not get all mournful. Instead, let's celebrate Sir Terry's life and work (so far) and the fact that he's still writing, and hope for more - and, yes, for better - in the future. At the least, I'll be eager for the next Discworld book - a Tiffany Aching one, I understand - to see what is really going on.

Buy this book!

[Edited 28/7/14 to include a reference to the new book, which Sir Terry has mentioned].
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Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels)
Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) by Terry Pratchett (Hardcover - 7 Nov 2013)
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