Monstrous Regiment is one of my favourite books, and the Discworld series is probably my favourite series of books. I'm afraid I'm a little biased, but I really do think this is an excellent book. The characters are all interesting and the overall pacing and plot are noteworthy. The main characters in this book are not recurring from others in the series, so they are a nice contrast to the regular casts. There are some traditional Discworld characters present as well. One of my favourite elements of this story is seeing Commander Vimes from an outside perspective. In the books that feature him we generally see the world through his eyes, and it is always an interesting contrast when we see how the world sees him.
One of the notable aspects of the Discworld series as a whole is it sometimes takes the traditional fantasy setting and uses it to explore issues that reflect reality. Monstrous Regiment does this as well. The setting is very focused on the group of main characters, and what happens to them. One of the really interesting parts of this book is that it could be a story in any war setting, only some of the characters and situations remind the reader that the book is a fantasy story. This shows that the fantasy genre is not limited to entirely unreal stories.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who likes the Discworld series, and to anyone who is interested in the variety of the fantasy genre. People who like war related stories might also like it, if they do not mind the fantasy setting.
Monstrous Regiment is one of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, so for the uninitiated, it's about a world where there are magicians, dwarves, werewolves, trolls, vampires, witches and other assorted fantastical entities. All of these are really metaphors for the various types of ethnocultural groups we find in our multicultural societies and many of the book plots are thinly disguised extensions of current problems. In the case of Monstrous Regiment, it's about the role of women in society, in the military and how it is shifting.
Told in Pratchett's usually dryly witty style, it follow Polly as she sets off to find her brother who went off to war the year before. To do so, she must follow in his footsteps, join the army as Paul, and in so doing, she learns, among other things, the importance of scratching, spitting, and the value of socks. Good fun all round.
A little different from others in the series, and took me a lttle longer to read that others (didn't pick it up and read it in 2 days as usual...took a whole week) but if you can get past the subject matter being war, then it is Terry's usual mix of action adventure, magic and humour. So many levels of comparison to humanity. Yes it is about war, but that is an ongoing human state unfortunately. This is the story of a few strange folk having to rely on each other to get where they want to go. Brilliant Mr.P !!
"Monstrous Regiment" is the twenty eighth novel in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld Series. A former journalist and press officer, he has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.
Polly Perks lives in Munz, a town in Borogravia - a country with distinct similarities to Oceania, the setting for George Orwell's "1984". Pictures of the Duchess, Borogravia's own Big Brother, are everywhere, while the country has always been at war with one or other of its treacherous, devious and evil neighbours. The current enemy is Zlobenia, a country that is allied to the foul and lewd Ankh-Morpork. Indeed, that sinful city has even sent Vimes the Butcher and its soldiers to Zlobenia's aid. Religious people pray to the Duchess, rather than Nuggan (the local God). However, she hasn't been seen for thirty years, and many people believe that she is dead. (Many people also believe that Borogravia is losing the war, but nobody dares express either belief). Nuggan, meanwhile, seems to be a spiteful God - his list of abominations includes the color blue, shirts with six buttons, garlic, dwarfs and babies. Luckily for the size of his congregation, few observe the complete list of abominations (ahem) religiously, though some try to avoid looking at the sky.
There are two notable buildings in Munz : the Girls Working School (where the bad girls are sent) and "The Duchess", the local tavern. Polly lives at "The Duchess", which is owned and run by her father. Her mother is dead, and her brother has been missing for quite some time, after having joined the army. Polly wants him home for a number of reasons : bluntly, he wasn't very good at looking after himself, and his absence is proving very difficult for their father. Furthermore, under Nuggantic law, Polly wouldn't be allowed to inherit "The Duchess" if anything happened to her father - which means the Perks family would lose their business. Polly decided to find and rescue her brother - the most obvious way to do this is to disguise herself as a boy and join the army. Having learnt to pick her nose and break wind, she cuts her hair, assumes the name 'Oliver' and joins the Tenth Foot Light Infantry (better known as the In-and-Outs and / or the Cheesemongers). Polly isn't the only new recruit - the others include a troll (called Carborundum), an Igor (who, like all Igors, is called Igor) and a vampire (called Maladict). Maladict, mercifully, is a Black Ribboner - he hasn't touched any human blood in over two years. Sergeant Jackrum, meanwhile, runs the regiment - a very famous soldier who is determined to look after his 'little lads'. Despite this, the Cheesemongers are sent to the front lines with shoddy equipment and no training. To make matters worse, it isn't long before someone sees through Polly's disguise. In a dark latrine, someone suggests she completes it with a strategically-placed pair of socks. This both worries and confuses Polly : someone has caught her out, but has also decided to help her...
Like everything else I've read by Pratchett, this is an excellent book. It's a little less silly than many of the previous instalments, but there are still plenty of laughs. It's easily read, and features plenty of likeable characters- particularly Jackrum.
I adore Terry Pratchett's novels, especially the Discworld series. I think he's one of the best living writers and I admire his deft touch at weaving together humour and philosophy, dialogue and action. And, although there are a number of Discworld novels I think are weaker than his best (Jingo, Fifth Elephant, Thud!), I still enjoy rereading them because of the author's extraordinary skill.
Monstrous Regiment is the one Pratchett book I cannot bring myself to reread. It's just not very good.
I don't care about any of the characters in this one. This is partly because Pratchett is so clearly on a soapbox the entire time that very little humour is allowed to come through. The single "twist" is repeated so many times that it quickly loses any ability to surprise or instruct. By the end of the book I was praying, "Please, Mr. Pratchett, you can't possibly do it again ..." But he did. The only character I enjoyed was Jackrum, but when the all-too-predictable twist was applied to this character as well as everyone else, I continued reading only because I couldn't imagine not finishing a Pratchett novel. The final twist made me throw the book down in disgust.
When Pratchett gets preachy, his normally deft touch gets leaden and the humour flees. The only "darker" book of his that really works for me is Night Watch, which is quite stunning.
I suggest that you read just about anything else by Pratchett, rather than this one. It was so bad it made me not read anything by him for quite a while, and I've only just caught up with Thud! (disappointingly heavy-handed), Getting Postal (excellent -- among his best) and Making Money (pretty good).