Going Postal (Discworld Series #33)

Going Postal (Discworld Series #33)

4.7 115
by Terry Pratchett

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Arch-swindler Moist Van Lipwig never believed his confidence crimes were hanging offenses—until he found himself with a noose tightly around his neck, dropping through a trapdoor, and falling into...a government job?

By all rights, Moist should have met his maker. Instead, it's Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, who promptly offers him a job as

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Arch-swindler Moist Van Lipwig never believed his confidence crimes were hanging offenses—until he found himself with a noose tightly around his neck, dropping through a trapdoor, and falling into...a government job?

By all rights, Moist should have met his maker. Instead, it's Lord Vetinari, supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, who promptly offers him a job as Postmaster. Since his only other option is a nonliving one, Moist accepts the position—and the hulking golem watchdog who comes along with it, just in case Moist was considering abandoning his responsibilities prematurely.

Getting the moribund Postal Service up and running again, however, may be a near-impossible task, what with literally mountains of decades-old undelivered mail clogging every nook and cranny of the broken-down post office building; and with only a few creaky old postmen and one rather unstable, pin-obsessed youth available to deliver it. Worse still, Moist could swear the mail is talking to him. Worst of all, it means taking on the gargantuan, money-hungry Grand Trunk clacks communication monopoly and its bloodthirsty piratical head, Mr. Reacher Gilt.

But it says on the building neither rain nor snow nor glo m of ni t...Inspiring words (admittedly, some of the bronze letters have been stolen), and for once in his wretched life Moist is going to fight. And if the bold and impossible are what's called for, he'll do it—in order to move the mail, continue breathing, get the girl, and specially deliver that invaluable commodity that every human being (not to mention troll, dwarf, and, yes, even golem) requires: hope.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Going Postal, the 29th novel in Terry Pratchett's hilarious Discworld series -- a saga that parodies, well, everything! -- chronicles the life, execution, and glorious rebirth of Moist von Lipwig, a career criminal who is sentenced to a fate worse than death: He's named Postmaster of Ankh-Morpork!

Given the option between being hanged or accepting a job to get Ankh-Morpork's nonexistent postal service up and running again, Moist chooses the latter. But he has no intention of working for the government; the first chance Moist gets he's escaping Ankh-Morpork, unearthing a hidden fortune, and hightailing it to points unknown. The only drawback to his plan is that Lord Havelock Vetinari, the supreme ruler of Ankh-Morpork, has assigned a golem as Moist's parole officer. Golems, giant supernatural entities made from clay, don't need to eat, sleep, or breathe. No matter where Moist goes, the golem (named Mr. Pump) can and will follow. With no hope of escape, Moist glumly accepts his fate. With only two employees left -- an old man with nowhere else to go and a mentally unstable boy obsessed with pins -- Moist must somehow deliver literally mountains of old mail, compete against the technologically superior clack tower message system, and survive the postal curse that has killed all his predecessors.

The two major reasons why Pratchett's Discworld saga continues to be wildly popular after an amazing 29 novels are simple: His outlandish sense of humor never gets old, and with every new novel he throws new and captivating characters -- like Moist von Lipwig, Adora Bella Dearheart, and Iodine Maccalariat -- into the mix. Discworld fans will not only delight in this extremely funny novel, they'll never look at (or lick!) stamps the same way again. Paul Goat Allen

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Discworld Series, #33
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.04(d)
760L (what's this?)

Read an Excerpt

The Angel

  • In which our hero experiences Hope, the greatest gift
  • The bacon sandwich of regret
  • Somber reflections on capital punishment from the hangman
  • Famous last words
  • Our hero dies
  • Angels, conversations about
  • Inadvisability of misplaced offers regarding broomsticks
  • An unexpected ride
  • A world free of honest men
  • A man on the hop
  • There is always a choice

They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man's mind wonderfully; unfortunately, what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that, in the morning, it will be in a body that is going to be hanged. The man going to be hanged had been named Moist von Lipwig by doting if unwise parents, but he was not going to embarrass the name, insofar as that was still possible, by being hung under it. To the world in general, and particularly on that bit of it known as the death warrant, he was Alfred Spangler.

And he took a more positive approach to the situation and had concentrated his mind on the prospect of not being hanged in the morning, and, most particularly, on the prospect of removing all the crumbling mortar from around a stone in his cell wall with a spoon. So far the work had taken him five weeks and reduced the spoon to something like a nail file. Fortunately, no one ever came to change the bedding here, or else they would have discovered the world's heaviest mattress.

It was a large and heavy stone that was currently the object of his attentions, and, at some point, a huge staple had been hammered into it as an anchor for manacles. Moist sat down facing the wall, gripped the iron ring in both hands, braced his legs against the stones on either side, and heaved.

His shoulders caught fire, and a red mist filled his vision, but the block slid out with a faint and inappropriate tinkling noise. Moist managed to ease it away from the hole and peered inside. At the far end was another block, and the mortar around it looked suspiciously strong and fresh.

Just in front of it was a new spoon. It was shiny. As he studied it, he heard the clapping behind him. He turned his head, tendons twanging a little riff of agony, and saw several of the wardens watching him through the bars.

"Well done, Mr. Spangler!" said one of them. "Ron here owes me five dollars! I told him you were a sticker! ‘He's a sticker,' I said!"

"You set this up, did you, Mr.Wilkinson?" said Moist weakly, watching the glint of light on the spoon.

"Oh, not us, sir. Lord Vetinari's orders. He insists that all condemned prisoners should be offered the prospect of freedom."

"Freedom? But there's a damn great stone through there!"

"Yes, there is that, sir, yes, there is that," said the warden. "It's only the prospect, you see. Not actual free freedom as such. Hah, that'd be a bit daft, eh?"

"I suppose so, yes," said Moist. He didn't say "you bastards." The wardens had treated him quite civilly these past six weeks, and he made a point of getting on with people. He was very, very good at it. People skills were part of his stock-in-trade; they were nearly the whole of it.

Besides, these people had big sticks. So, speaking carefully, he added: "Some people might consider this cruel, Mr.Wilkinson." "Yes, sir, we asked him about that, sir, but he said no, it wasn't. He said it provided"—his forehead wrinkled—"occ-you-pay-shunall ther-rap-py, healthy exercise, prevented moping, and offered that greatest of all treasures, which is Hope, sir."

"Hope," muttered Moist glumly.

"Not upset, are you, sir?"

"Upset? Why should I be upset, Mr.Wilkinson?"

"Only the last bloke we had in this cell, he managed to get down that drain, sir. Very small man. Very agile."

Moist looked at the little grid in the floor. He'd dismissed it out of hand.

"Does it lead to the river?" he said.

The warden grinned. "You'd think so, wouldn't you? He was really upset when we fished him out. Nice to see you've entered into the spirit of the thing, sir. You've been an example to all of us, sir, the way you kept going. Stuffing all the dust in your mattress? Very clever, very tidy. Very neat. It's really cheered us up, having you in here. By the way, Mrs.Wilkinson says thanks very much for the fruit basket. Very posh, it is. It's got kumquats, even!"

"Don't mention it, Mr.Wilkinson."

"The warden was a bit green about the kumquats, 'cos he only got dates in his, but I told him, sir, that fruit baskets is like life— until you've got the pineapple off of the top you never know what's underneath. He says thank you, too."

"Glad he liked it, Mr.Wilkinson," said Moist absentmindedly. Several of his former landladies had brought in presents for "the poor, confused boy," and Moist always invested in generosity. A career like his was all about style, after all.

"On that general subject, sir," said Mr.Wilkinson, "me and the lads were wondering if you might like to unburden yourself, at this point in time, on the subject of the whereabouts of the place where the location of the spot is where, not to beat about the bush, you hid all that money you stole . . . ?"

The jail went silent. Even the cockroaches were listening. "No, I couldn't do that, Mr. Wilkinson," said Moist loudly, after a decent pause for dramatic effect. He tapped his jacket pocket, held up a finger, and winked.

The warders grinned back.

"We understand totally, sir. Now I'd get some rest if I was you, sir, 'cos we're hanging you in half an hour," said Mr.Wilkinson. "Hey, don't I get breakfast?"

"Breakfast isn't until seven o'clock, sir," said the warder reproachfully. "But, tell you what, I'll do you a bacon sandwich. 'Cos it's you, Mr. Spangler."

The foregoing is excerpted from Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

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Going Postal 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 115 reviews.
DacodaNelson More than 1 year ago
I bought the book as a test of my new Nook and because it was the only Terry Pratchett book in digital format that sounded even remotely interesting. I'd only read a few of Pratchett's books before but I liked his style and decided to give it another go on the bus ride home. The book starts out, continues strong, and ends funny yet insightful. Many of the jokes are dark but they add to the tone of the book. While it's not the sort of thing that would hold up in a book club discussion, there aren't a lot of brilliant insights, it's a wonderful book for a Saturday morning or a bus ride, it'll keep you laughing and certainly interested.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The hero, or at least main character, is clever but not egoistical, unwilling but not running away, fraudulent and yet with some ethical standards of his own. Long-time Discworld fans have been commenting that, for the last few years, the series has been getting 'dark', heavy-going with very serious social issues (war, torture, dictatorship) (which I think is what satire is for, satire is social commentary wrapped in humor). 'Going Postal' deals with the slightly lighter issues of the enslavement of Artificial Intelligence (golems), the downfall of a major government office (the Post Office), serious financial fraud, unsafe work environments, and the thoughts of the employees. This novel, however, seamlessly incorporates the requisite humor. Readers new to Discworld may find this book more enjoyable than if they started the series with the two previous books 'Night Watch' or 'Monstrous Regiment'. Old time fans who have felt 'Night Watch' to be too bloody and psychological, or 'Monstrous Regiment' to be too grossly humorous while treating the subject matter inadequately, might have a happy nostalgic trip with 'Going Postal'.
Lion-Reader More than 1 year ago
Very similar to Making Money, but as with all of the Discworld novels, they are fun stories to read even when a story line is being reproduced. Few writers can make an autocratic tyrant a noble character, but that is the charm of Terry Prachett's novels. The heroes come from unlikely sources and the characters, even the minor ones are always engaging send-ups of "stereo-types" that go beyond the typical stereo-type.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Characters are interesting and there are lots of subplots. Leaves me thoughful whether I'll read another or not.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have ever read another discworld novel you will notice right away this one has chapters! I was so shocked, the only other discworld novels that have chapters are his Tiffany Aching books 'A Hat Full of Sky' and 'The Wee Free Men'. But chapters are not that bad and of course it is a wonderful read just like everything else in the discworld series. And Moist is now a definite favorite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Going Postal was a pretty fun book. At first it was kind of slow, but after a while I couldn't put the book down. The characters were pretty funny (in that weird, very strange way). I would recommended it to a friend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Moist van Lipwig is very surprised to wake up from his hanging to an assignment as postmaster to the dilapidated Ankh-Morpork postal service. Lord Vetinari has given the con-man a second chance, and the perfect parole officer ¿ a golem who will never be distracted and will never sleep. But the post office is buried in undelivered mail and staffed by an ancient 'junior' postman and a young pin-collecting fanatic. Moist puts his scamming skills to good use in reviving the post office in the hopes that real progress will follow if he gets the look just right. But a hint of success brings the ire of the dastardly head of the Grand Trunk clacks company, Reacher Gilt. This telegraph-like service was victim to a hostile takeover and is being run into the ground by greedy moguls. The competition between the clacks and the mail turns into a battle of wits and publicity between the two con-men, Moist and Reacher. Thanks to a flashy gold suit and some inside information, Moist certainly seems to be on top of the battle. But will he prevail in a seemingly impossible race to be the first to deliver a message thousands of miles away? And more importantly, will he win the affection of the chain-smoking, crossbow-totting, golem-rights activist Adora Dearheart? Pratchett effectively skewers corporate greed and technology without driving his points down your throat. He excels at using humor and fantasy to shine a light on the underlying ridiculousness of modern-day life. Fans of the series will love the cameos of established characters, while also enjoying getting to know the new players in Ankh-Morpork. New readers may miss some of the Discworld insider jokes, but will find this to be stand-alone enough to enjoy. Pratchett has used the fish-out-of-water redemption plot before, and uses it again here with great success.
Stevec50 5 months ago
In which our hero finds himself on the gallows, meets an 'angel' and becomes Postmaster. This is only the second Disc World novel I've read, so I may be missing some of the jokes or not recognizing returning characters or locations. Only one that I recall from the first novel appears here, briefly. Moist von Lipwig is a con-man and forger, who has finally been caught, being a little too clever. Condemned to be hung by the tyrannical Lord Vetinari, of Ankh-Morpork there appears to be little that he can do to escape his fate. Fortunately, both fate and His Lordship have different ideas and Lipwig soon finds him appointed as the new Postmaster, a position that has gone through a number of other occupants all of whom met an early demise. Moist hopes to escape this doom as well. Along the way, he discovers that he might not be the villain he has always seen himself as being. Can he really be a decent and honorable citizen? Pratchett takes on banking, the postal service and civil service with his usual humor and inventiveness. The book has the usual Disc World population of trolls, wizards and even a company that hires out Golems. Another delightful entry in the series which you really should be reading, if you can take your fantasy with a lot of humor.
LittleHawk More than 1 year ago
A perfect example of Discworld's continuing evolution
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ryanseanoreilly More than 1 year ago
You will not Return this Book to Sender—because it’s hilarious and awesome! Moist Von Lipwig is the name of the main character in this 33rd Novel of the Discworld series. That pretty much sets the stage for everything else. Grab hold of your hat and hang on for the ride. Moist is a talented and clever conman who has had a very successful criminal career on a sort of “middling” level. That is to say, he’s a step up from pickpocket but a step down from the clowns running multinational corporations. He’s spent a vast majority of his life playing alter egos that suit his various (and less than altruistic) endeavors. So much so, that you realize a fair way through, that the man does not really know himself. He’s been so busy playing make-believe in order to earn a fast buck that he really hasn’t ever figured out who he really is or what he cares about. And in that, we see the true genius of Terry Prachett’s writing. The story of the protagonist is a redemptive tale that is wrapped up in the polka dotted humor and witticism of a very clever satirist. We manage to care very deeply for Moist and his struggles, which are both outward and inward. The story primarily centers around the city of Ankh-Morpork and its communications system. The book opens with the protagonist being saved from death, by a benevolent tyrant—the city patrician—Lord Vetinari. Although Vetinari is a dictator, he seems to be shrewd enough to care about the well-being of his citizens. Vetinari has identified a troubling problem with the mode of communication in the city; in which the majority of the story takes place. Swift communications between the citizenry are being conducted through a privately run utility known as the “Clacks,” which is basically a system of visual telegraph towers (semaphores) that translate messages across distances using coding. Apparently, the Clacks system was “legally” taken over through a series of questionable financial maneuvers by a collective of investors known as “The Grand Trunk” who are headed by Reacher Gilt (a min of ill repute—and probably a pirate to boot!). Since the takeover, fees have gone up and service has gone down. Vetinari attempts to correct the situation by talking to The Grand Trunk and is rebuked for his efforts. The problem is that the Clacks are now the only game in town and everyone relies on them exclusively to get things done. Too big to fail…. So Vetinari schemes to even the playing field by resurrecting the ancient, defunct postal system. To do this, he conscripts our protagonist. Moist agrees to go along with the plan for appearances, until he can bide his time and figure a way to escape and return to his old scamming ways. However, the endearing, odd ball cast of characters which Moist encounters while working in and around the post office slowly start to wear him down and he develops an interest in things beyond his own selfish needs. The cast of characters that Prachett dreams up are brilliant and memorable. Whether it’s the fire-eyed Golem parole officer who must keep tabs on the protagonist; the old-guard of anal-retentive postal workers; the slick zombie-faced lawyer; the mostly-sane former Clacks workers turned code-crackers and rabble rousers; the boisterous and bumbling stuffy-robed wizards of the Unseen University; the sulking and skulking Igor butler henchman; the disturbing pigeon-eating banshee; or the chain-smoking golem-rights activist/love interest—you fall in love with them all. Everyone comes alive. An unforgettable cast. Sometimes there are heartfelt moments of kind and generous acts, other times you revel in the satire that floods through the streets of Ankh-Morpork. Everyone is a character and a caricature and always faintly familiar. Moist is quick-witted and all to willing to up the stakes. A bad habit from his scheming days, but it serves him well in his new career as postman as he finds himself pitted against the biggest conman of them all—the head of the Clacks—Reacher Gilt. This is where we see real character growth as Moist is both awed and repulsed by the story’s chief antagonist. He is facing a distorted and much crueler mirror image of himself in dealing with Gilt. The more he learns, the more he is intrigued, and the more he is distressed. Upon meeting a truly great connoisseur of the trade (i.e. master conman) in Gilt, he sees that it is not so great a thing to aspire to. Then he questions himself and the life he has led and he wonders if there is much difference between him and Gilt. This is great character growth and the stuff of good story making. Another great thing in this book is the inherit magic of the post office (A decidedly untraditional magical reagent). But Pratchett’s description of the place—even in its pigeon-dropping-covered-piles-of-old-letters—have all the intrigue and captivation of a haunted castle. A wonderfully original setting. Other commentators have pointed out how well Pratchett does with word-play (even the title of the book lends itself to this). They also point out how you don’t get tired of it. It’s true. This book has many levels of humor from word-puns to deep satire pointing out the absurdities that are abundant in a capitalistic society. The Clacks system and The Grand Trunk have innumerable alliterations to phone companies and investment banking. Indeed, this book was written before the recent financial crisis that raked the world’s economies and is disturbingly prescient in many of its aphorisms. He makes you think as well as entertains you (as truly great authors do!). Prachett really hits the spot. He is refreshingly funny and a good storyteller. The world can be a very awful place sometimes, when you look at all the problems one can suffer through during a lifetime. Yet, it is books like this one that help to put all the grim things in their proper place of absurdity. Podcast: If you enjoy my review (or this topic) this book and the movie based on it were further discussed/debated in a lively discussion on my podcast: "No Deodorant In Outer Space". The podcast is available on iTunes or our website.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As far as ive gotten in all things discworld, this is my FAVORITE SO FAR!!! ive read it maybe 12 times now. Still counting XD. It just has an appealing twisted dry sense of humor, and the story itself is a parody of our world right now (as lots of his books are) Thats pretty cool, & its a good read for almost all ages! Im 17 & my grandpa who is 78 enjoys it as much as i do. So all you pratchett fans, ya gotta read it. Now would be a great time. Adios ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moist von Lipwig, Disc World's most honest con man! Going Postal is a great introduction to what's now a series of three: Going Postal, Making Money and the newest, Raising Steam. They should be read in order, so you can see how his inadvertent involvement with legitimate activities keeps sucking him in to doing the right thing. Classic Pratchett.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fabulous introduction to one of my favorite characters of all time. You should definitily give this book a chance. It will have you laughing out loud as you read all about Ankh-Morpork's postal system.
DocNVictorGirl More than 1 year ago
I have yet to read a Discworld book I didn't like, and Sir Pterry has done it again with this one. The characters are all great -- the newest protagonist is wonderfully written, as is his love interest and all the other characters around him -- and the plot is engaging from beginning to end. You'll probably feel the same glow Moist does near the climax as he works to pull off the impossible. Trust me, if you love the Discworld, this is a great read.
Green_Embers More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book. This book is one of my all-time favorite books. I remember going into the bookstore in the local mall and I had heard of Terry Pratchett before but I didn’t put two and two together. I just saw the cover (I’m so shallow, I know) and I am like, what is this? Well this looks interesting and I bought it, took it home and could not put it down. This was my first exposure to the Discworld books and it didn’t even matter. The later Discworld books are written so you can pick up and read without having read the previous ones. This book was just so much fun and the humor was invigorating. Once again, another book about restoring something old. The state of the old post office and its description almost had me in tears of laughter. The characters described are just too funny, my favorite being Stanley, a fine collector of pins. Terry Pratchett is an interesting author, he actively discourages people from reading his early work. My friend in Ohio was lucky enough to go to a book signing and he told them, “Yeah, don’t read the early books, they’re rubbish.” I have since gone back and read some of his earlier books and can see where he is coming from. They are very rough and you can see the spark of brilliance but through age he has honed his ability as a writer and manages to make simple things seem so extraordinary in his later books. He has way in his books of making simple concepts in our lives seem so magical and his concepts of the postal system actually made me think in a different way. This book is a straight fun melodrama about getting second chances and learning to make the most with what you have. Mistakes will be made but through work and endurance you can overcome past lives. Do you believe in Angels? This book is on the Green Embers’ Recommended List.
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Im an avid Discworld reader and have to say that this is a welcome addition to the Anhk Morpork centered books.
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