Monstrous Regiment (Discworld Series #31)

Monstrous Regiment (Discworld Series #31)

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by Terry Pratchett

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War has come to Discworld ... again.

And, to no one's great surprise, the conflict centers around the small, arrogantly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on its unrelenting aggressiveness. A year ago, Polly Perks's brother marched off to battle, and Polly's willing to resort to drastic measures to find him. So she cuts off her

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War has come to Discworld ... again.

And, to no one's great surprise, the conflict centers around the small, arrogantly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on its unrelenting aggressiveness. A year ago, Polly Perks's brother marched off to battle, and Polly's willing to resort to drastic measures to find him. So she cuts off her hair, dons masculine garb, and -- aided by a well-placed pair of socks -- sets out to join this man's army. Since a nation in such dire need of cannon fodder can't afford to be too picky, Polly is eagerly welcomed into the fighting fold—along with a vampire, a troll, an Igor, a religious fanatic, and two uncommonly close "friends." It would appear that Polly "Ozzer" Perks isn't the only grunt with a secret. But duty calls, the battlefield beckons. And now is the time for all good ... er ... "men" to come to the aid of their country.

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
In Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel Monstrous Regiment, war has come once again to the realm. Polly Perks, an unassuming barmaid from Borogravia, cuts her hair, pretends to be a young man, and joins the army in hopes of finding her brother Paul, who marched off to war a year ago and hasn't been heard from in months. But once in uniform, she gets a cold dose of reality. Instead of going through extensive military training, Polly and the other recruits are immediately sent to the front. And to make matters worse, word is that Borogravia is badly losing the war. Enemy forces are everywhere and many Borogravian soldiers are deserting or surrendering.

Led by Lieutenant Blouse, a nearsighted academic who couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, the regiment of misfits realize they're as good as dead if they blindly follow Blouse into battle. The second-in-command, Sergeant Jolly Jack Jackrum -- a legendary monster of a soldier who has been in the army longer than anyone can remember -- takes control of the regiment by using Blouse as a puppet leader. Jackrum is a man's man - the foul-mouthed, tobacco-chewing sergeant can outfight, outstrategize, and outdrink anyone. As the battles intensify, however, Jackrum realizes the majority of the regiment are women!

Monstrous Regiment will have readers laughing out loud in places and fighting back tears in others. This is a classic Pratchett: clever, satirical, and brilliantly constructed -- an absolute must-read for Discworld fans. Sergeant Jolly Jack Jackrum is arguably Pratchett's most unforgettable character to date. Paul Goat Allen

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Discworld Series , #31
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Monstrous Regiment

By Terry Pratchett

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Terry Pratchett All right reserved. ISBN: 006001315X

Chapter One

Polly cut off her hair in front of the mirror, feeling slightly guilty about not feeling very guilty about doing so. It was supposed to be her crowning glory, and everyone said it was beautiful, but she generally wore it in a net when she was working. She'd always told herself it was wasted on her. Yet she was careful to see that the long golden coils all landed on the small sheet spread out for the purpose.

If she would admit to any strong emotion at all at this time, it was sheer annoyance that a haircut was all she needed to pass for a young man. She didn't even need to bind up her bosom, which she'd heard was the normal practice. Nature had seen to it that she had barely any problems in this area.

The effect that the scissors had was ... erratic, but it was no worse than other male haircuts here. It'd do.

She did feel cold on the back of her neck, but that was only partly because of the loss of her long hair. It was also because of the Stare.

The Duchess watched her from above the bed.

It was a poor woodcut, hand-colored, mostly in blue and red. It was of a plain, middle-aged woman whose sagging chin and slightly bulging eyes gave the cynical the feeling that someone had put a large fish in a dress, but the artist had managed tocapture something extra in that strange, blank expression. Some pictures had eyes that followed you around the room; this one looked right through you. It was a face you found in every home. In Borogravia, you grew up with the Duchess watching you.

Polly knew her parents had one of the pictures in their room, and knew also that when her mother was alive she used to curtsy to it every night.

She reached up and turned this picture around so that it faced the wall.

A thought in her head said No. It was overruled. She'd made up her mind.

Then she dressed herself in her brother's clothes, tipped the contents of the sheet into a small bag that went into the bottom of her pack along with the spare clothes, put a note to her father on her bed, picked up the pack, and climbed out of the window. At least, Polly climbed out of the window, but it was Oliver's feet that landed lightly on the ground.

Dawn was just turning the dark world into monochrome when she slipped across the inn's yard.

The Duchess watched her from the inn sign, too. Her father had been a great loyalist, at least up to the death of her mother. The sign hadn't been repainted this year, and a random bird-dropping had given the Duchess a squint.

Polly checked that the recruiting sergeant's cart was still in front of the bar, its bright banners now drab and heavy with last night's rain. By the look of that big fat sergeant, it would be hours before it was on the road again. She had plenty of time. He looked like a slow breakfaster.

She let herself out of the door in the back wall and headed uphill.

At the top, she turned back and looked at the waking town. Smoke was rising from a few chimneys, but since Polly was always the first to wake, and she yelled the maids out of their beds, the inn was still sleeping. She knew that the Widow Clambers had stayed overnight (it had been "raining too hard for her to go home," according to Polly's father) and, personally, she hoped for his sake that she'd stay every night. The town had no shortage of widows, for Nuggan's sake, and Olga Clambers was a warm-hearted lady who baked like a champion. His wife's long illness and Paul's long absence had taken a lot out of her father. Polly was glad some of it was put back. The old ladies who spent their days glowering from their windows might spy and peeve and mumble, but they had been doing that for too long. No one listened anymore.

She raised her gaze. Smoke and steam were already rising from the laundry of the Girls' Working School. The building hung over one end of the town like a threat, big and gray with tall, thin windows. It was always silent.

When she was small, she'd been told that was where The Bad Girls went. The nature of "badness" was not explained, and at the age of five Polly had received the vague idea that it consisted of not going to bed when you were told. At the age of eight she'd learned it was where you were lucky not to go for buying your brother a paint box.

She turned her back and set off between the trees, which were full of birdsong.

Forget you were ever Polly. Think young male, that was the thing. Fart loudly and with self-satisfaction at a job well done, walk like a puppet that'd had a couple of random strings cut, never hug anyone, and, if you meet a friend, punch them. A few years working in the bar had provided plenty of observational material. No problem about not swinging her hips, at least. Nature had been pretty sparing there, too.

And then there was the young-male walk to master. At least women swung only their hips. Young men swung everything, from the shoulders down. You have to try to occupy a lot of space, she thought. It makes you look bigger, like a tomcat fluffing his tail. She'd seen it a lot in the inn. The boys tried to walk big in self-defense against all those other big boys out there. I'm bad, I'm fierce, I'm cool, I'd like a pint of shandy and me mam wants me home by nine ...


Excerpted from Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Copyright © 2003 by Terry Pratchett
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 68 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Discworld series fan, and have just about every book in the series. For those not acquainted with the Discworld, there are series within the series, such as story-lines dedicated to a coven of witches, a wizard's university and a police force. Monstrous Regiment is mostly a stand-alone book (other stand-alone Discworld books include Pyramids, Small Gods, Moving Pictures and The Truth) that has ties to the story of the Discworld as a whole. I have thoroughly enjoyed Monstrous Regiment! Like all Discworld books it is funny, thought provoking and touching. I think most people have asked themselves what life would be like to be the opposite sex, Terry Pratchett has plumbed the depths of this curious subject surprisingly well. As a woman, I can vouche that he seems to have gotten a grasp not only of what is like to be a woman in a mans' world, but a woman trying to blend seamlessly into that world. The story is addicitng, and a revelation at each turn of the page. This book is appropriate for Discworld regulars, and even those visiting the Disc for the first time!
Captain_SmokeblowerTW More than 1 year ago
I get caught up in Terry Pratchett stories knowing full well he has a message. That's important because writers may let their message overpower their story (or their story is just a veneer to their message), but Terry Pratchett weaves a tale that traps me. I bought into the story of "Monstrous Regiment" sword, epaulet, and unmentionables. [I may be mistaken that Terry Pratchett has a message; it's possible he just sees situations, institutions, and the world differently, i.e. more clearly that others. In which case it's no wonder his stories come across as they do.] "Monstrous Regiment" follows the military career of our heroine/hero driven to join the army, but not really out of patriotism. The story follows her during a war initiated out of national false pride and sustained by vilifying an enemy whose army is led by an old friend (to those who read the Discworld stories) from the Ankh-Morpork City Watchmen, Sir Samuel Vimes. While the story is told from our heroines perspective as a soldier following orders, we sense her growing understanding of war from the soldier's perspective as its contrasted with the politician's patriotism, but always there is the central problem faced by, yet hidden by, our heroine; she's a woman in a man's army isn't she?
harstan More than 1 year ago
Over the last three decades, the Duchy of Borogravia has declared war on all of its neighbors. Now more countries have formed the alliance whose goal is to destroy the duchy. The prince of Zlobenia is the heir to the Borogravian throne and hopes to prove the ruling family has died out so he can incorporate it into his country. Polly is not interested in issues of state but intends to find her brother and bring him home.

She disguises herself as a male and signs up to join the army. Her unit consists of other females masquerading as men, a vampire, a troll, an Igor as well as a heroic sergeant. When they capture some enemy soldiers, instead of taking them as POW¿s, they end up releasing them, not realizing one of the soldiers is the prince of Zlobenia. Their actions bring them to the attention of the Alliance who is inspired by the courage of the MONSTROUS REGIMENT and hesitates to invade their country. That hesitation gives Polly and the other members of the unit a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of the Alliance and a chance for Borogravia to retain its independence.

It¿s always a pleasure visiting Discworld where the magical and mundane exist side by side. MONSTROUS REGIMENT is one of the better novels in this long running series because the characters are zany and quirky yet somehow believable. Terry Pratchett seems to write a light-hearted comical fantasy but in reality he is using humor to provide a very deep condemnation of terrorists and nations that make war inevitable.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know what I had done to become this. I know this isn't me. I had been normal. Grown up, had a childhood, fell in love, but it had been ripped away. Gone. Nothing but these hollow memories and faint feelings remained. One minute I was living my life, the next I was taking others. I didn't know why. It just...happened. I get a feeling to go somewhere and end somebody. I felt like I was doing good. These people were bad people and I was the hero. Right? That's why I did this wasn't it? I didn't know. I had a gut feeling I didn't want to know. I knew I would find out sooner or later. Sooner to spare me pain, later if I wanted agony. So, I picked up a newspaper and read the giant caption that screamed, "MURDERER STILL AT LARGE; IS ANYONE SAFE?" With a picture of my last kill beneath it. I dropped the paper and ran. I ran from it. I pretended I was running from what I was. There was no changing me, but something had changed now. I ran. Until I heard the scream.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DocNVictorGirl More than 1 year ago
It's always good when Terry pulls out the badass female protagonists, and Polly definitely ranks up there. Smart, sharp as a knife, and surrounded by a cast of colorful and fascinating characters, you just know she's going to get the job done -- and with style. The commentary on military life and war is great, and the cameos from some of our beloved Ankh-Morpork residents always got a smile. Pick it up as soon as you're able!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good.
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An amazing book, but I think Jackrum was a bit too far with the main theme. You feel like mr. pratchett would have made VIMES, well... if he could get away with it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't help but label this book as my favorite outside-continuity Discworld book. I love all of the amazing characters and heir clever escapes from various situations. I fully recommend (spelling?) this book to any and every Pratchett fan. (I also suggest finding the real-life versions of the songs; they're pretty cool.)
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