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Terry Pratchett – Monstrous Regiment

Title: Monstrous Regiment
Author: Terry Pratchett
Year: 2003

I have always liked Pratchet, but I can see three reasons why I did not like this novel particularly much: I have grown tired of his writing, it was an inevitable bad novel in a series of better ones or Pratchett has started writing worse novels in general. I tend to think that the second is the most plausible, since I would need more data to assess the relevance of the other two.

Monstrous Regiment is a book about women in the armed forces, drawing its title from the work The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women by John Knox. The reader follows the story of a girl named Polly “Oliver” Perks, who disguises herself as a man in order to find out what has happened to her lost brother. The squad she joins is, as usual, comprised of a plethora of strange characters and creatures.

There are mainly two things with this novel that bother me. Firstly, the theme is a sort of kindergarten-level gender discussion which fails to enrich me in any substantial way. I think the underlying messages are germane, but they are on such a basic level that they might appeal to teenagers, but hardly to myself. Satire is present in this novel, but it is not as profuse as in other works by Terry Pratchett. Since this is one of the major reasons I read his novels, I am disappointed.

Secondly, there is hardly anything unique in this story. Many concepts are present, but have been expounded more expertly elsewhere (vampires in Carpe Jugulum, newspapers in The Truth and so forth). Admittedly, some characters show more depth than is usual for Pratchett (I am thinking of Lieutenant Blouse in particular), but these small glimpses are simply not enough. Adequate language and concepts save this novel from utter failure, but does not on its own motivate a higher grade than two and a half snails.

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