Making Money ~ Terry Pratchett

  • Title: Making Money
  • Author: Terry Pratchett
  • Series: Discworld #36
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Own
  • Reviewed by: Olga Godim
  • Rating: 5 out of 5

Description:  Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door?
It’s a job for life. But, as former con-man Moist von Lipwig is learning, the life is not necessarily for
long.
The Chief Cashier is almost certainly a vampire. There’s something nameless in the cellar (and the cellar itself is pretty nameless), it turns out that the Royal Mint runs at a loss. A 300 year old wizard is after his girlfriend, he’s about to be exposed as a fraud, but the Assassins Guild might get him first. In fact lot of people want him dead.
Oh. And every day he has to take the Chairman for walkies.
Everywhere he looks he’s making enemies.
What he should be doing is . . . Making Money!

Review: 

A terrific book, one of the best in the series. The story follows the continuing adventures of Moist von Lipwig, which started in Going Postal. To tell the truth, in this particular novel, the plot and the protagonist do not exist separately. I can’t imagine the events of this novel happening to anyone else but Moist von Lipwig, a reformed (almost) conman, a sweet talker, and a genius troubleshooter who revived the Post Office for Lord Vetinari, the ruler of Ankh-Morpork.

Now the postal service of the city works like a clock, Moist has no more challenges, and he is bored. He picks locks in the post office building (despite having all the keys as the Postmaster General) and climbs walls at night to relieve the boredom.

When Vetinari offers him a new job – to revitalize the Royal Mint (why is it Royal, when there hasn’t been any king in Ankh-Morpork for decades?) and reorganize one of the biggest city banks – Moist declines. He’s set on becoming a respectable citizen. Unfortunately for Moist, the choice is taken out of his hands. Through no fault of his, he inherits a dog who is the chairman of the bank – this is Discworld, remember – from its deceased owner. With the dog goes 50% of the bank’s shares, so now Moist has no recourse but to make the mint and the bank work for the city and for himself. 

Of course, there are all sorts of problems our resourceful hero must face. First, he has to learn how money-making really works. Another quandary: the rest of the shareholders are unhappy about the situation and will stop at nothing to remove the pesky chairman (dog) and its innovative new owner. Furthermore, the bank is almost bankrupt, and the mint’s overheads cost more than the coins it produces. Only Moist’s creative thinking can save both from imminent collapse… if he can dodge assassins and embezzlement charges for long enough to make his (his dog’s) bank function. Perhaps he can even invent paper banknotes?

The protagonist, recognizable from his previous postal novel, is his usual charming self, moderately honest, slightly prone to dangerous pranks, and a glutton for fools and misers. They are practically inviting him to trick them.

The antagonists are sufficiently evil. And the city is the author’s version of our reality, with the added fun of trolls, werewolves, and the openly twisted morality. Laugh at you own peril. Enjoy the show. Read and learn. This book is a mirror, and we’re all staring into it. Whatever we see is up to us.  

The action is very fast, and a couple of small incongruities along the way don’t spoil the effect, while the occasional nuggets of wisdom sparkle in the text, making for laughter-inspiring quotes. I love the guy who can think like that and put every pre-conceived notion upside down.

Moist talks to the mint workers during his introductory visit:

“Well, at least you’re in a profitable business,” said Moist cheerfully. “I mean you must be making money hand over fist!”
“We manage to break even, sir, yes,” said Shady, as if it was a close-run thing.
“Break even? You’re a mint!” said Moist. “How can you not make a profit by making money?”
“Overheads, sir. There’s overheads wherever you look. … Y’see, it costs a ha’penny to make a farthin’ an’ nearly a penny to make a ha’penny…”

The logic of making coins at a loss escapes me, just as it was incomprehensible to Moist.  

Here he wonders:

…how illogical logical thinking can be if a big enough committee is doing it.

 Obviously, he is not a fan of committees. Are you?

 Moist ponders the phenomenon of stamp collecting:

Stamp collecting! It had started on day one, and then ballooned like some huge … thing, running on strange, mad rules. Was there any other field where flaws made things worth more? Would you buy a suit just because one arm was shorter than the other? Or because a bit of spare cloth was still attached? Of course, when Moist had spotted this he’d put in flaws on purpose, as a matter of public entertainment, but he certainly hadn’t planned for Lord Vetinari’s head to appear upside down just once on every sheet of Blues. One of the printers had been about to destroy them when Moist brought him down with a flying tackle.

 Moist contemplates his own flexible ethics:

I wonder… Am I really a bastard or am I just really good at thinking like one?

 The Post Office workers, who have had the measure of their ingenious boss, vouch for him:

“And we talked to some of the lads from the Post Office last night and they said we could trust Mr. Lipwig’s word ’cos he’s as straight as a corkscrew.”
“A corkscrew?” said Bent, shocked.
“Yeah, we asked about that too,” said Shady.  “And they said he acts curly but that’s okay ’cos he damn well gets the corks out!”

Note the names of the people who work for the bank and the mint: Bent, Shady. Aren’t they fabulous? Overall, a marvelous read and a delightful mockery of our money system… and our other systems too.  


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