Wednesday, 26 September 2007
'Making Money' - Terry Pratchett (DoubleDay Books)
I'll be straight, I stopped reading Terry Pratchett when he stopped making me laugh (somewhere around 'The Thief of Time')but my wife still absolutely loves him to pieces. So I thought, 'why don't I let her do the review instead of me?' Here it is!
No one could ever accuse me of being a science fiction or fantasy fan. Dragons, elves, hobbits, wizards and the like leave me cold, whereas reading about how Bill Bryson has yet again got into a scrape in a foreign country provides comfort that I’m not the only one who can get into those types of situations. Get Graeme to tell you about the time our petrol ran out in a Maine forest in the middle of the night or the Tunisian man who forced us into a spooky temple and chanted scary sounding gibberish over us and you’ll see what I mean.
Despite that, the one fantasy author that everyone likes is Terry Pratchett who I discovered at 16 and have had a love affair with ever since. You don’t read him for the story but more for the fun that he has with the English language and his sharp observations on life. The fact that elves, dwarfs and so on appear is incidental (to me). Unfortunately, like any long term relationship there’s a risk of getting too comfortable and no longer making the effort. ‘Making Money’ is one of those sad moments of complacency which if left unchecked can lead to a break up. Pratchett’s books have moved from being fun, dynamic lovers whose focus is making you happy, to slightly balding couch potatoes who are more interested in telling you the story of a meeting at work than sweeping you off your feet.
‘Making Money’ feels like a lazy couch potato and there are many areas that could have benefited from more of the loving attention that Pratchett used to give to characters, background and dialogue. Originally no one cared about a lack of story as such because the fun was in the world and the writing and to read a 5 minutes conversation with an old lady who saw through Moist, after which he somehow saved the bank wouldn’t have mattered if the earlier seduction had been there to hide the threadbare nature of the story. Moments such as the female golem with an identity crisis showed an earlier attention to form but the same attempt with the forgettable man in the cellar and his machine that changes reality missed the mark. Who could look at the original descriptions of hero’s he gave us and compare them favourably to Moist von Lipwig who has a good name but very little else to recommend him a second time round. Finally the impression was given that Moist von Lipwig would once again be forced to save the day in the next book and would somehow manage it despite the threat of certain death and with little effort. Once that’s given away why buy the next book when you can read the earlier ones that still have the power to sparkle and interest?
Who is he trying to attract now that the original commentary on fantasy is increasingly disappearing? Everything is set in a city that increasingly resembles London in the present day and the other races are so well established that they don’t really have any impact. It feels that Pratchett has lost interest and is no longer working for the good of the relationship between himself and his original readers.
That may sound bitter but when a love affair comes to an end it’s hard not to be upset about the former lover who let you down. I’d rather remember the fun times and it’s these memories that will keep me waiting in hope for the magic to return.
Five out of Ten