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It is the ingenious story about the fraud and con-man Moist von Lipwig who is given a second chance, the choice between reviving the Ankh-Morpork postal service or dancing the Gallows’ Jig. The choice isn’t hard and after a bit he can easily slip away, right? Wrong for his parole officer has fiery eyes and does not eat, drink or sleep. In fact it doesn’t stop working for anything, except its day off. He is known as Mr Pump and he is made of clay.
Forced to stick to the post office, Moist quickly starts putting on a show to which the people of Ankh-Morpork are rapidly becoming attracted to as moths to the flame and the post office is soon getting letters to post to the Gods. However, it is not as easy as things appear and the Grand Trunk, the clacks company, led by its chairman Mr Gilt, does not want the postal service to continue because it is taking away some of its revenue. Assassins are sent and competitions laid out but in the end it all boils down to a mastery of words.
Pratchett describes human nature. He writes about people’s ability to experience “man’s greatest treasure” – hope – and the ability to fill in missing details so as to see only what they want to see. Naturally of course, it is this talent that the main character as a conman uses to the best of his ability to get inside people’s heads and create the illusion of something, at least for a time. Pratchett goes into language; he cannot avoid it with the main theme being letters and the post office! And with his unstoppable wit he creates puns and jokes that have you laughing out loud at the descriptions of people, places and events that you would be hard pressed not to find in real life.
They say that a good Pratchett book can be determined by reading a random line somewhere within its pages. If it makes you laugh then you know it is good. ‘Going Postal’ does this and what’s more seeing that it is less of a fantasy story than is usual for a Discworld novel, it is almost more appealing because it is easier to relate to. Almost. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book despite it causing me some embarrassment due to it making people stare at me while I was in stitches while reading in public!