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98 of 107 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 5 months ago by Steve Gardiner

versus
356 of 422 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars This book will break your heart...
... 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...
Published 5 months ago by E.U. Glass


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98 of 107 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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356 of 422 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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... 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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141 of 169 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The weight of expectation, 9 Nov 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So - farewell, then…?, 24 Dec 2013
By 
Gareth Simon (London, England) - See all my reviews
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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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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars a shadow of his past glory, 2 Jan 2014
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With Pratchett's illness giving this book a bad review makes me feel like I'm kicking a puppy - it just seems a nasty thing to do. The problem is though he just can't write any more. I'm not entirely convinced he wrote this to be honest as it just doesn't seem to be his voice - this feels like the next step towards the inevitable guest authors producing work tagged as "terry pratchett's discworld" as the publishers wrings every last penny they can from the franchise.

this follows the same formula as the last few books - Moist V-L gets to introduce a modern utility into the ankh-morpork. And that utility kind of has a magic life of its own. Been there before and there's nothing really new here - no character development, no new insights on our modern institutions when placed in an alien context but frankly the most important thing is that it's just not fun. This was a drag to read when earlier books were just a joy - I often finished them in 24hrs and re-read them a number of times.

to be fair though, the rot had set in a while back. Frankly most of the interesting stuff in discworld has been over-exploited now. The world has been mapped and there are no new interesting corners to explore and it's so weighed down in baggage whereas earlier books were dazzling with their novelty.

The last Pratchett book I really enjoyed was "Nation" - which showed how inventive he could be with a blank canvas. I'm sure this will sell well and find an audience as addicts just try and rediscover than initial hit of the joy which pratchett could produce at will. This is just not the same stuff, it's cut with baking soda and there's hardly any good stuff in there.

Time for us all to move on and remember the good times.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A farewell?, 2 Dec 2013
I've just finished this, and at first I wasn't very sure at all. I'm still not - but I'm reluctant to attribute my doubts and the undoubted flaws of the book down to TP's condition. The Discworld series has always had its off moments (for me, the worst and the one I took straight to a charity shop was Monstrous Regiment), and by the standards of some of them - MR again - this is OK. But I think I would put it at that: OK. It's not brilliant; it's not awful, at least for me.

Like some other reviewers, I find the treatment of some characters a little heavy-handed and Vetinari, especially, doesn't seem as subtly drawn as usual. In addition the unusually long timeframe of Raising Steam can mean that a reader is in danger of literally losing the plot, particularly as there are so many minor strands or snippets and new characters who flash on and off. To me it almost feels as if some favourite, older, characters are also being given a last chance to stand on the stage even if they're taken back into the wings quite quickly and never reappear, but I do like, very much, the transformation of the Low King and the growth of industrialisation on the Disc. Another factor is that Raising Steam doesn't seem to have a clear target for Pratchett the angry social commentator in the way that Going Postal, Making Money, Unseen Academicals or even Snuff did. Perhaps that's a bit of a problem as well.

I did have a similar initial reaction to Snuff but when I went back and reread that recently I found it much more consistent. Maybe this will also be better on a second reading, so the three stars are for my immediate reaction. Overall, though? Hmm. For now.
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16 of 20 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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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 silver tongue of Moist von Lipwig, the real gold of Harry King, the realpolitic of Lord Vetinari 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 theme 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 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 supposes 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 ignore it. It's a tricky question. I tend to feel that 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 I admiration for his 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 due to 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 really doubt whether they are, and I think assuming they are may even 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, who 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 he then started another work, quite different in tone. Had he lived a bit 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.

That would be sad if true, but 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 just yet. 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.

Buy this book - it's well worth reading.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightly simmering would perhaps be a better title, 18 Jan 2014
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Now I don't know if I'm just tired of Pratchett's Discworld or whether this is in fact a below par book.
Personally, I have struggled to get into, find none of the characters nearly as engaging as, say Mort and Death or the Weird Systers. The story seems to struggle to gain traction, if you'll pardon the pun, and from the start seems a little directionless. The writing is full of Pratchett's usual mixture of vividness and wackiness, but again I feel I've seen it all before. It is possible it gets better and if I manage to read to the end and find out I will certainly update this review. For now though It feels distinctly off the boil.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars enjuoyable, but not among his best, 11 Dec 2013
By 
John Webley - See all my reviews
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A lot of good ideas but for my taste slightly too much social satire and not enough Discworld fantasy. I had a similar feeling about Dodger. Is Pratchett moving away from me or me from him?
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sad to say, we are a losing a master to a terrible illness, 24 Nov 2013
By 
Alfredo Hamill (Naples, Italy) - See all my reviews
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I have been a fan of Terry Pratchett since his very first Discworld books came out. Quality has not always been even, some of the stories are better than others, but there was always the magic Pratchett touch in the way he told the stories, in the language. He was certainly on a par with Wodehouse, however different they are. It is terrible that this destructive illness should happen to one of my favorite authors, but I note that this latest Discworld novel is not up to par with the others. Yes, there are many of the same characters (Lord Vetinari, in primis) but the special aura that surrounded them, thanks to the Terry's story-telling magic, has in part evaporated. It is still a pleasure to sit down and read him, but we are losing one of the best, certainly the best comic fantasy writer that has ever existed. Read this one any way, and enjoy it, because I really fear it may be the last. Thanks, Terry, for all you have given us. I wish you could have been immortal.
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Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels)
Raising Steam: (Discworld novel 40) (Discworld Novels) by Terry Pratchett (Audio CD - 21 Nov 2013)
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