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Raising Steam (Discworld) Hardcover – March 18, 2014

4.2 out of 5 stars 800 customer reviews
Book 40 of 40 in the Discworld Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 2007, just years before he was granted a knighthood for services to literature, Terry Pratchett announced he had been diagnosed with a rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although his illness has limited his ability to use a keyboard, it hasn’t stopped him from using dictating software to create yet another installment, number 39, in his internationally popular Discworld series. Here the invention of a steam-powered locomotive by an ingenious young artificer named Dick Simnel creates a stir among the citizens of Discworld’s prominent metropolis, Ankh-Morpork, as well as disrupting the affairs of assorted dwarfs, trolls, and goblins in the surrounding countryside. To keep Simnel’s invention properly reigned in, Lord Vetinari dispatches Moist von Lipwig, his trusted minister of almost everything, including the Royal Bank, to fund and supervise the construction of a railway. Leavened with Pratchett’s usual puns, philosophical quips, and Discworld in-jokes, the story offers an amusing allegory of Earthly technology’s many seductions and give series fans at least one more visit with their favorite characters. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A 200,000 initial print run, extensive advertising and media appearances, and frenzied online and social media coverage will carry forward the latest in Pratchett’s mega-selling series (more than 80 million copies sold). --Carl Hays


“Consistently funny, wise and clever. . . . Rewarding to both longtime readers and novices, filled with characters who leap off the page and metaphors that make you laugh out loud. . . . Pratchett's appeal isn't just his roller-coaster plots but the depth of his ideas.”
     —Sam Thielman, Newsday
“Salted among all the treacle miners and nascent trainspotters are some serious ideas about technology and the irrevocable changes it brings. . . . While exploring questions about the unintended consequences of technology, Pratchett also blasts fundamentalists who resist all progress. But mostly he seems to be having fun with words in the very British strain of absurdist humor that he has made his own. And 40 books in, why not?”
     —Sara Sklaroff, The Washington Post

“A delightful fantasy send-up of politics, economics and finance, as the Discworld gets a railway and complications ensue. . . . A lovely homage to the courage at the core of technological advance. . . . Pratchett melds politics, finance and the occasional dark turn with his fantasy and humor, and as ever his footnotes are not to be missed. . . . How many writers are more fun to spend time with?”
     —Ken Armstrong, The Seattle Times
“A spectacular novel, and a gift from a beloved writer to his millions of fans. . . . A tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world’s most delightful writers.”
    —Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“What began with a farcical satire of pseudomedieval fantasy has become a Dickensian mirror of contemporary western society. . . . Raising Steam is the latest transformation of a remarkable fictional world that has evolved and grown with its creator—and it shows how, in the way of many things invested with devotion on the Disc itself, the Discworld has taken on a life of its own.” 
     —Karin L. Kross, Tor.com

“From the first, the novels demonstrated Pratchett's eye for telling detail and the absurdities of the human condition. . . . He remains one of the most consistently funny writers around; a master of the stealth simile, the time-delay pun and the deflationary three-part list. . . . I could tell which of my fellow tube passengers had downloaded it to their e-readers by the bouts of spontaneous laughter.”
    —Ben Aaronovitch, The Guardian

"Terry Pratchett’s creation is still going strong after 30 years. . . . Most aficionados, however, will be on the look-out for in-jokes and references from previous novels—of which there is no shortage. Discworld’s success, like that of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories, has never been driven by the plots. . . . It is at the level of the sentence that Pratchett wins his fans.”
    —Andrew McKie, The Times (London)

“A brash new invention brings social upheaval, deadly intrigues, and plenty of wry humor to the 40th installment of Pratchett’s best-selling Discworld fantasy series. . . . As always, Pratchett’s unforgettable characters and lively story mirror the best, the worst, and the oddest bits of our own world, entertaining readers while skewering social and political foibles in a melting pot of humanity, dwarfs, trolls, goblins, vampires, and a werewolf or two.”
     —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Brimming with Pratchett’s trademark wit, a yarn with a serious point made with style and elegance.” 
     —Kirkus Reviews
“Leavened with Pratchett’s usual puns, philosophical quips, and Discworld in-jokes, the story offers an amusing allegory of Earthly technology’s many seductions.” 

Praise for Terry Pratchett

“Terry Pratchett may still be pegged as a comic novelist, but . . . he’s a lot more. In his range of invented characters, his adroit storytelling, and his clear-eyed acceptance of humankind’s foibles, he reminds me of no one in English literature as much as Geoffrey Chaucer. No kidding.”
    —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

“Given his prolificacy and breezy style, it’s easy to underestimate Pratchett. . . .  He’s far more than a talented jokesmith, though. His books are almost always better than they have to be.”
    —Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

“Nonstop wit. . . . Pratchett is a master of juggling multiple plotlines and multiplying punchlines.”
    —Ken Barnes, USA Today

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Product Details

  • Series: Discworld (Book 40)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (March 18, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038553826X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385538268
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (800 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like the other reviewers who made this claim, I'll state my bona fides. I've read all the Discworld books. I've read half of them at least six times each. I've read most of Pratchett's other stuff.

And like the other people who made this claim, I never imagined I would ever write a bad review for a Terry Pratchett book.

But I've come to the conclusion that someone else wrote this book. As soon as this thought struck me (around page 80) I found myself reading on and wondering how I could ever have believed this was Pratchett's voice at all. No, someone else has taken over the shop. His daughter is the most likely suspect, since he said he was handing the Discworld on to her. (By the way, a note for the copyright page detectives: The books have been copyrighted in the names of both Terry and Lyn Pratchett for years... long before his illness. And Lyn is his wife, not his daughter.)

Assuming that whoever wrote Raising Steam goes on writing, I want to offer him/her a few tips:

- You need to know two things about Vetinari. He's always in control of any situation, and we are never shown what he's thinking. Never.

- All right, you need to know a third thing about him. We are constantly told he's ruthless, but he's not. He's got way more ruth than most people.

- Oh, and a fourth thing. He's the king of understatement. When Vetinari threatens you, he raises an eyebrow. He may or may not make some comment along the lines of "Indeed?" He does not give detailed, repeated, re-repeated descriptions of what he's going to do to you.

- The members of the City Watch call Vimes "Mister Vimes".

- The dwarves do not represent Muslims.

- Dwarves refer to female dwarves as "he".

- Death is a good guy.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Trying to write this review was difficult as it took a while to figure out how to best approach the criticism. It's well-established that Pratchett is suffering from Alzheimer's and as a consequence the caliber of his writing has noticeably diminished. Raising Steam is no exception. It simply does not have the wit, charm or humor of Pratchett's earlier Discworld book (the last "real" Pratchett book was probably Unseen Academicals). Those who claim that Pratchett's back on form, well, go and reread Soul Music or Hogfather or The Truth. They're two different writers now.

But I can't really fault Pratchett for the decline in his writing standards due to his health, nor is it fair at all. In fact I'd even say that it's impressive he's still able to put out a fairly decent story. So I gave the book three stars.

But I will comment on the following:

Goblins: I am not a fan of the goblins. I found them annoying little characters who add little to the story other than their cumbersomely long names. When Pratchett introduced the other sapient creatures of the Discworld - dwarves, vampires, trolls and the living dead, he introduced them with all their cliches and stereotypes and thoroughly poked holes through all of them and still gave them their due flaws, which made these characters so real to the point that I almost expected to run into a dwarf or troll when I stepped outside after reading a Pratchett novel. But the goblins have been given a hands-off treatment in a fairly politically correct manner that makes it difficult to warm up to them. Compared to the trolls and dwarves of earlier books, the goblins remain limited two dimensional characters that add little to the story.
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Format: Hardcover
If this is your first venture into the Discworld of Terry Pratchett, DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. Start with "§The Color of Magic", "The Light Fantastic", "Going Postal" or almost anything else. If I had started with this one, I would not now own every single Discworld book written by Sir Terry. Not only do I own them all, I have read each one at least 10 times, since I discovered Sir Terry 3 years ago. (Yes, I know - hard to believe, but I do love them.) Presents of choice are Pratchett books for my family and friends.

The characters are seriously flawed - pale and very blurred imitations of the real characters - cardboard characters as other reviewers have stated.
: Samuel Vimes - acerbic, dour, cynical Mister Vimes, laughs with "so twisty he can slide through a corkscrew sideways" Moist Von Lipwig. WHAT? (And if the author had called him "Commander Vimes" just once more, I would have been screaming at the top of my lungs.)
: Mustrum Ridcully, Arch Chancellor of Unseen University, never had more than a knowing twinkle in his eye. Now he indulges in laughing.
: Adora Belle Dearheart has turned into a non-smoking (from over 100 cigarettes a day) June Cleaver, "puffing" Moist¡¦s pillow and serving him a healthy (?) breakfast in bed. This is the woman whose brother called her "Killer" and Moist calls "Spike".
: Lady Margolotta who speaks with absolutely no accent, has has had no problem pronouncing a"W" previously. In this book, not only can't she pronounce a "W", she seems to use only sentences that have a forest of those letters in them.
: Lord Vetinari: oh lordy. Where to start? Intelligent, taciturn, secretive Vetinari has turned into a verbose, jolly good fellow who laughs with the inestimable Drumknott, his secretary. I could cry.
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