Moving Pictures is a delightful farce that introduces us to some of the Discworld's most interesting citizens. The evil forces of Holy Wood have lain buried under the sand for countless generations, but then, in the kind of luck typical of life on the Discworld, the guardian is rendered incapable of guarding the power. As the non-wizard magic of Holy Wood quickly escapes from its timeless sleep, inhabitants from all over the Discworld find themselves drawn to the spot out in the middle of nowhere, and they all want to be a part of the new moving pictures (or clickies) business. The alchemists delight in sidestepping the authority of wizards by coming up with some non-wizard magic of their own. To make a clickie, you just need a box full of little imps, and when you turn the handle the imps draw what they see in front of them, and they do it very quickly because there are whips connected to the turning handle. Most people have a hard time figuring out just what these clickies are and how they work, but the citizens of Ankh-Morpork instantly fall in love with them, lining up in droves for the chance to see little five-minute long, soundless clickies of historical and educational interests-at first. Then none other than Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, famed salesmen of sausage in a bun and other pseudo-culinary tidbits (whose fame comes from the fact that he can actually sell his sausages in a bun to people on more than one occasion) gets the calling, basically takes over the whole business, and starts making epics filled with danger and fighting and romance, some of them taking the better part of a whole day to film. The milkmaid Ginger and Victor Tugelbend (a student wizard who is generally acknowledged to be the laziest person on the Discworld) find themselves the leading lady and man of cinema and they are the first to figure out that something is terribly wrong in Holy Wood. Holy Wood magic is not really real, and what it is actually doing is wearing away the barrier between reality, always in rather short supply on the Discworld, and the Dungeon Dimensions, where all kinds of terrible entities sit waiting to come in. The first person to really figure out the danger is not a person at all, but rather Gaspode the Wonder Dog (not to be confused with the ingratiatingly obedient and thus wildly popular Laddie the Wonder Dog). He's a mangy little mutt of a dog really, but he does something most dogs can't do-he talks. He talks a lot, grumbling about life as a talking dog and constantly warning Victor about all the "boding" going on up on the hill. Well, things all come to a head when Dibbler makes the most lavish moving picture ever, Discworld's version of Gone With the Wind, and the evil that Victor, Ginger, Gaspode, and the Librarian must ultimately contest is a Lovecraftian being from the outside, with all kinds of tentacles and other nasty bits.
There are more unforgettable characters in this novel than I can describe here. For me, though, the senior wizards pretty much steal the show. After seeing a poster of the scantily-clad Ginger's newest and biggest movie, they decide that they need to find out what all this clickies nonsense is about. Of course, they can't let anyone know they are wizards so they come up with the brilliant idea of putting wire in their beards to make them look like fake beards (ingenious, really, in my opinion). A special delight is old Windle Poons; he may be the oldest, most deaf wizard still alive, but he behaves quite like a youngster when he goes out on the town. This tenth book in the Discworld series sorts of takes the reader in a new direction, centering on brand new characters but incorporating a few familiar faces that manage to keep things lively from start to finish. Looking back, it may have dragged a little in the middle, and the ending wasn't overly spectacular, but it was a pure joy to read. There is wit galore here but not too much satire, making this a fairly carefree book to be read strictly for the pleasure of it. There are numerous references to popular films, and I was really delighted to see Pratchett give the horrors from the Dungeon Dimensions an obvious Cthulhuian cast. Moving Pictures would be a great book with which to introduce yourself to the Discworld universe; you can enjoy it immensely without having read the previous nine books, and there are laughs to be found on every single page.