A review of Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Reviewed by Bob Williams

Making Money
by Terry Pratchett
2007, ISBN 0-06-116164-0, $25.95, 394 pages

Terry Pratchett first made contact with his creative self with The Colour of Magic in 1983. That self proved to be most unusual, more than a little zany, flamboyantly imaginative, and, under the guise of fantasy, as sharp a satire on what passes for the real world as Swift.

Discworld is the scene of his extravaganzas. It is a world shaped like an enormous pizza with water spilling over its edge. It rests upon the backs of four elephants and these in turn rest on the back of the great A’tuin, a giant turtle who navigates space. Although Pratchett has written books to describe various parts of Discworld, the provinces and foreign lands, most of his many books are about the dirty and corrupt megalopolis, Ankh-Morpork. Ruled by a cynical and ruthless tyrant, the Patrician Vetinari, the city creaks along with the help of the Watch, brought to perfection by the reformed drunkard, Sam Vimes, and the often wayward intervention of the Unseen University (the university of magic). It is a world rich with possibilities for keen satire.

Making Money emphasizes that economics is rightly called the dismal science and from the beginning of the book we become aware that this book is different from the other Discworld novels. It presupposes a greater than usual familiarity with the previous novels, especially its immediate predecessor, Going Postal, for Making Money gives the further adventures of the scoundrel Albert Spangler, now reformed and known as Moist von Lipwig who has brilliantly reformed the postal service and is now asked to perform the same service for the national bank. The difficulty is that money is not that interesting and even a devoted fan of Pratchett will find dry passages where the comedy does not stretch either itself or the reader.

Pratchett shows his usual flair – wonderfully Dickensian – for names. Lipwig’s girlfriend, a very abrasive young woman, is Adora Belle Dearheart. And the fun gathers in the last quarter of the book to reward the persistence of the reader.

And at first this seems to be the one bad book that any prolific writer produces, but there is a flourish and a celebration as the book nears its conclusion. Making Money is not Pratchett at his best, but it is a worthy near miss and should not be neglected by his fans. Other readers would best read Wyrd Sisters or Men at Arms before they tackle Making Money.

About the Reviewer: Bob Williams is retired and lives in a small town with his wife, dogs and a cat. He has been collecting books all his life, and has done freelance writing, mostly on classical music. His principal interests are James Joyce, Jane Austen and Homer. His writings, two books and a number of short articles on Joyce, can be accessed at: http://www.grand-teton.com/service/Persons_Places