This review was originally posted at Goodreads and imported here later with next to no spell/grammar checking.
“When banks fail, it is seldom bankers who starve.”
Based solely on the blurb, I was not excited about this book. A protagonist called Moist von Lipwig? A con artist? Thanks, but no thanks. And it starts with his execution, which even in a book, even when you know it won’t actually follow through, is a deeply disturbing thing to me.
But what follows is a redemption story, and a really good one at that!
Mr. Lipwig is to take over the derelict abandoned post office in the era where the telegraph has basically taken over the world. Why send a letter over a horse-drawn carriage and wait days for delivery when the message can arrive in a few minutes or hours via the Clack.
But the telegraph company — lovingly designed and built by engineers — has been taken over by the business people who were milking it relentlessly, neglecting repair and safety procedures.
The story story is an urban one and I just respond much better to those. Plus there’s great characters, intrigue, conspiracy, mysteries, cunning, betrayal and a cat that needs saving.
In addition, Pratchett deftly addresses topics such as "natural medicine", engineering vs. business approaches to running a company and then does one of my favourite things in a book: building and describing a culture. The post people as well as the telegraph operators have their own morals, behaviours, approaches and myths. And that is just always so delightful to see.
It’s not just a story, but an insight into a world full of genuine people.
And as ever, there’s a lot of philosophy to be found for anyone who’s looking.
Going Postal is technically a part of the Industrial Revolution subseries, but it can absolutely be read in isolation. It is also apparently the first of the new Moist von Lipwig subseries and I am definitely looking forward to the next ones.