Going Postal, one of the newer Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (the newest with the exception of Thud!), stars a new character by the (real) name of Moist von Lipwig. Moist, a con artist whose description reminded me a lot of Locke Lamora, is on death row under his assumed name of Alfred Spangler. To his surprise, Moist finds himself in Patrician Vetinari’s office instead of in Death’s domain after his hanging. Vetinari gives him a choice: he can either die or he can run Ankh-Morpork’s Post Office.
So Moist becomes the Postmaster, and he changes to the Post Office for the better with the invention of stamps. He finds himself in competition with the head of Ankh-Morporks clacks system, which is reminiscent of the modern email system – generally faster and better but also more technical and down for maintenance a lot.
As is the case with a lot of the newer Discworld books, Going Postal is more serious – which isn’t to say it’s completely serious but it’s a lot less zany than some of the older books. There has been a definite change of tone in the books, starting around Night Watch. Pratchett seems to be moving away from some of the older characters like Rincewind and the witches and focusing more on introducing newer characters and writing about the City Watch. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since the City Watch includes some of the better characters and the witches and Rincewind were not as interesting (although there are certain books about them that were quite good). I do miss some of the zaniness that I remember from older books such as Guards! Guards!, however.
Despite it’s somewhat more serious tone, Going Postal is still a very enjoyable book which introduces a very fun new character with Moist von Lipwig (who I hear Pratchett is going to use in his next book, Making Money, which comes out this fall).