Hope, greed and a gold suit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 September, 2010, 12:00am

Going Postal
Terry Pratchett
Published by Imprint
ISBN 9780552149433

Chances are if your first name is Moist, you're likely to not have had a very happy childhood. Add that to the surname von Lipwig, and anyone can see how a man might turn to a life of crime, and so it is with Albert Spangler, who is about to be hanged.

But just as he thinks he's dead, the ruler of Ankh Morkpork makes him an offer that would be most unwise to refuse - run the city's post office or die. And so Spangler needs to reinvent himself into a respectable Post Master - not an easy task. It seems someone is out to kill him, as they did the previous Post Masters. Things are further complicated by a system of sending messages that makes the post office obsolete. It's owned by an unscrupulous company that works its staff to death and cares only about profits. But Moist has more than a few tricks up his sleeve, like inventing stamps. He has made his living selling pieces of glass as diamonds, getting people to bet on games they can't win, and relieving the greedy of their cash. So he puts on a gold suit and winged hat, and prepares to pull the biggest scam of his life.

Moist is a charming rogue who has his principals. He never 'hurts' anyone, he tells himself. The government and banks are the real robbers and now he'll take them on at their own game.

Life in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series is a distorted mirror of this life. But while his work is always hilarious it is also a good social commentary on the nature of humans. Going Postal is about hope, greed and who can bluff the best.