Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Raising Steam Raising Steam
by Terry Pratchett

Supplied for review by Random HouseNew Zealand

Reviewed By: Steven Litten

Nothing yearns to be something, and small entrepreneurs are complaining of the distance and travel time between Ankh-Morpork and the food sources. Enter Dick Simnel, whose father had disappeared in a cloud of pink steam and shrapnel after a furnace accident, a lad armed wi’ a flat cap and Iron Girder, a furnace that moves. On tracks. In Harry King, the waste merchant’s yard. There’s also a problem with factionalism among the Dwarfs. Not all are happy with the settlement Lord Vetinari imposed on them and the Trolls at Kroom Valley.

This is Terry’s 40th (and penultimate) Discworld novel. It is a multithreaded tale, with Dick Simnel, the Goblins, Moist von Lipwig and the Dwarves all facing various challenges. For those that haven’t guessed from the title, the tale is ostensibly about the arrival of rail transport on the Discworld, and the demand is driven by the wealthy of Ankh-Morpork for fresh produce from their fisheries and market gardens. So naturally the opportunity for international incidents abound. A competing thread is the disaffection one faction of Dwarves has for the Kroom Valley settlement. This has Lord Vetinari concerned. More than Moist von Lipwig is when The Patrician has charged him with securing the smooth implementation of various rail routes. And we learn something interesting concerning the Low King of the Dwarfs.

The story seamlessly flips between the various threads as rail travel comes to the Discworld. To my taste, the story lacked a little focus with so many competing threads it was difficult to decide which was the primary tale – the rail road, Dick Simnel or the threatening war among the Dwarfs. An enjoyable read, it probably isn’t Terry’s best. But then, it isn’t his worst either. Good, lightweight Discworld fun.

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