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A beautiful new hardback edition of the classic Discworld novelPolly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took time And now she's enlisted in the army and searching for her lost brotherBut there's a war on There's always a war on And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it without any training and the enemy is hunting them

10 thoughts on “Monstrous Regiment

  1. says:

    Pratchett addresses two uestions here 1 “Do you think it's possible for an entire nation to be insane?” and 2 Does and importantly should a well placed pair of socks for 'certain' sort of padding make a difference? “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it” As far as Discworld series is concerned this book can be easily read as a standalone novel It brings us to the little backwards country of Borogravia which is constantly at war with someone this time it's with Zlobenia Ankh Morpork is expected to intervene since as Commander Sam Vimes points out in his cameo appearance the interests of Ankh Morpork are the interests of all money lov oops sorry all freedom loving people everywhere Borogravia was a peace loving country in the midst of treacherous devious warlike enemies They had to be treacherous devious and warlike otherwise we wouldn't be fighting them eh? There was always a war Borogravia's economy is on the verge of collapse and the country has pretty much run out of eligible soldiers But this does not stop the little country governed by a probably dead Duchess the country that follows the ever expanding ring bound makes it easier to add pages gospel of the god Nuggan who seems to spend his time coming up with new Abominations recently we've had garlic chocolate dwarfs cats oysters and the color blue join the ranks So what we have here is a country that tries to run itself on the commandments of a god who the people feel may be wearing his underpants on his head Has he Abomined underpants?No sir But it's probably only a matter of time Polly Perks does not care about war money or patriotism What she cares about is saving her not too bright brother who has disappeared in the war So of course she chops her hair off and joins the army disguised as a boy Did I mention that lots of Nuggan's Abominations have something to do with women acting non womanlike? A mysterious unseen benefactor advises her on the benefits of a well placed pair of socks in the 'nether regions' And given that the title of the book comes from the infamous The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women the readers can easily guess the true nature of Polly's war comradesLike we have learned to expect from Sir Terry's novels this book is witty and has plenty of funny moments But as many of his recent novels it is also sad angry and frustrated with the events in Discworld clearly paralleling the things that make us angry in the Roundworld I love that this book like the rest of Pratchett's creations makes me think Some may complain that the message of this book is on the heavy handed side but I love it I love that Pratchett is not shy or subtle about getting the message across about the evils and pitfalls of bigotry prejudice discrimination and so called patriotism bordering on jingoism He is not subtle about the things that people should NOT be subtle about and I love it He is open about asking uncomfortable uestions and stirring up trouble and love this as well “You take a bunch of people who don't seem any different from you and me but when you add them all together you get this sort of huge raving maniac with national borders and an anthem” Another thing I love about Pratchett's writing is that he is one of the regrettably few male fantasy authors who can portray a woman as not a stereotype or a caricature or a mystery or an adorable nuisance or a far fetched ideal but as a normal well normal for Discworld real and believable human being “This was not a fairy tale castle and there was no such thing as a fairy tale ending but sometimes you could threaten to kick the handsome prince in the ham and eggs” As it's becoming common in Pratchett's novels the ending is not happy but has bittersweet undertones There is an understanding that it takes a lot to change the world to change people's beliefs and prejudices that anything that is won is only a small step on a long road And now it wasn't that good things were happening it was just that bad things had stopped Pratchett is not reluctant to show that the world's ways of dealing with things that are uncomfortable that challenge the status uo is to pretend that they never happened pretend that they are the exception rather than the rule pretend that ignoring things would make them go away We weren't soldiers she decided We were girls in uniform We were like a lucky charm We were mascots We weren't real we were always a symbol of something We'd done very well for women And we were temporary This is now one of my favorite Discworld novels Five stars is not enough to describe how much I loved it And I adored the little cameos from the other Discworld characters especially Vimes I am a true Vimes girl why'd you ask? The enemy wasn't men or women or the old or even the dead It was just bleedin' stupid people who came in all varieties And no one had the right to be stupid

  2. says:

    This is the second most freuently read of my favorite Terry Pratchett books the first being Night Watch which helped get me through the death of my mother My latest copy of Monstrous Regiment is so battered and dog eared that it’s falling apart From sentence number one I was riveted and if you are wondering whether you should read this book the short answer is yes turn your cursor right now to a new tab and order it or even better jog out to your local probably half an hour away bookstore they’re an endangered species and support them by buying it thereIt’s that good Sir Terry is that good a writer Read the book before finishing this review; you’ll thank me for the advice and if you haven’t already devoured the Discworld series you are in for the rollercoaster ride and treat of your lifeBy the way Sir Terry is a personal hero of mine When he died last March I cried for days He went leaving the bravest self written epitaph I have ever read Terry took Death's arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless nightThe EndI was so stricken and devastated when I read this that I wrote a short response to it which I kept to myself because I realized that I had no right to besmirch Sir Terry’s courage by imposing my own end of life beliefs on his in public I get choked up just trying to write about this wonderful man and I ardently look forward to the day when we can cure Alzheimer’s disease and save the minds of other brilliant people like himAnd guess what? Monstrous Regiment is a “gender bending” book meaning that it’s about a girl who dresses up as a boy to get into the army of an extremely misogynistic and backward country so she can try to rescue her older brother Paul whom she has taken care of since she was a child That’s not a spoiler by the way that’s on the back cover The entire story is about female and male roles and whether or not they should change Ahem More about that later But the point is this is an extremely appropriate book for the first of my new reviews It’s also a book that will probably make you think a few new thoughts especially if female euality isn’t an obsession of yours and therefore obviously worth readingMonstrous Regiment will also make you think about war There is enough about realistic fighting in it to make you freeze in shock at points Like Night Watch like all of Sir Terry’s best writing it deals with a serious subject in a loopy way and the loopiness in turn has a deadly serious razor edge to it Yes yes war is bad and grass is green except in drought stricken California where it’s dun but Monstrous Regiment will make you feel up close and personal what it’s like to be a soldier And heaven only knows they know what war is really like If you don’t feel some wheels turning in your head as you re evaluate your position on whether anybody should fight anybody with anything after reading this book you are either smarter than everyone else left here in the world and maybe a bodhisattva or dumber than a pigeonThe third subject Monstrous Regiment takes on is religion Yes organized religion and heavenly religion too And once again the book will probably surprise you It astounded and amazed me by its bravery in handling this particular hot potato I won’t go into the subject at length here because there are some spoilers that are pretty important to the discussion but suffice it to say that new thoughts may well rocket back and forth in your head at the speed of a light clacks’ signals which is to say at c for celeritas Sir Terry is a genius when it comes to turning established “truths” on their heads and then turning them back over again and back upside down just for good measure So definitely without doubt read the book There are some terrific characters introduced here The protagonist Polly Oliver Ozzer Perks is a very likeable girl and the uestion of whether she is a lovable girl—a hero to adore andor emulate—doesn’t really even arise I’d be entirely happy to have Polly on my team any day and I’d not hesitate to call on her in time of need She’s smart and solid That’s high praise from me Overall The action in the book is fast and furious the humor is hilarious the writing is fresh and vibrant the ideas breathtaking and there are even a few brief appearances by Samuel Vimes who is my favorite of all Sir Terry’s characters male or female That is my conventional review of Monstrous Regiment and I give it a conventional five out of five starsSee the comments below for the rest of my review

  3. says:

    Five stars really aren't enough I think this might be my favorite Terry Pratchett book I've read it at least 3 4 times and re reading it today I'm delighted to discover that it's every bit as good as before As an added bonus this book would be easier for new readers of Pratchett to pick up There are a few characters from previous books but they only have very brief cameo appearances Other than that the book is pretty much self contained pat

  4. says:

    Yer mom wears army bootsMen and women women and men Men without women women doing just fine without menTerry Pratchett’s 31st Discworld novel first published in 2003 is somewhat of a departure from the other series We see Sam Vimes and some members of his watch and there are distant grumblings about Ankh Morpork but this is for the most part a stand alone about the small proud truculent nation of BorograviaThis struggling nation state is foundering after decades or centuries of warfare attacking and “defending” against the aggression of its neighbors But Pratchett draws a picture of a population and culture bent and warped by a ridiculous religion and the near worship of a monarch Blind faith and mistaken loyalties are two of the elements that Sir Terry has fun with in this very well done novelTold in a lineal manner than many of his eclectic stories this one has a somber tone than most this being about war but it also had some of the most laugh out loud scenes of any of his books Perhaps Pratchett taking on a serious subject realized the need for some uproarious comic relief His sense of timing is impeccableI always like it whether in a film or a book when a supporting character takes over and steals the show While the protagonist here is a young girl who cuts her hair and surreptitiously joins the army Sergeant Jackrum takes over and is by far the most interesting playerThis one took a while to get moving for me but then it really took over and I thoroughly enjoyed this Pratchett asks some serious uestions – in his enjoyably non serious way – and leaves the reader with some thought provoking ideas about war and peace about ourselves and the value of tradition against common sense

  5. says:

    There was always a war Usually they were border disputes the national euivalent of complaining that the neighbor was letting their hedge grow too long Sometimes they were bigger Borogravia was a peace loving country in the midst of treacherous devious warlike enemies They had to be treacherous devious and war like otherwise we wouldn't be fighting them eh? There was always a war The Night Watch goes to War Or at least that was my expectation before I started the novel Only thing is this Discworld novel is not exactly about the Night Watch even if Sam Vimes Angua and a couple of others do participate in the conflict The theme chosen by Sir Terry is indeed the lampooning of martial mentality but the main actors are a bunch of fresh recruits in the army of Borogravia Each of these recruits harbors a secret identity and I guess it is not much of a spoiler to mention that for some of them that identity has to do with gender rolesA long history of open conflict with all its neighbors in particular a recent attack on Ankh Morpork clack towers has brought Vimes and the imperial forces to fight on the side of Zlobenia and has left Borogravia deprived of fresh blood to send to the slaughter Recruiting parties are chased out of the impoverished villages empty handed until Polly decides to switch genres and enroll All it takes apparently is a pair of socks shorn hair and a lifetime of observing the habits of the opposite sex You might pick your nose a bit often Just a tip Few things interest a young man than the contents of his nostrils The new platoon that Polly joins is heading for the front where a defeated Borogravian army is dug in under the battlements of a massive fortress they just lost due to the deviousness of Vimes Under the fierce tutelage of veteran sergeant Jackrum a ragtag collection of losers and misfits is welded together into a formidable fighting machine in the best tradition of war movies that Pratchett sets out to subvert with an energy and a self assurance that proves the Discworld treasure chest of ideas is far for reaching its bottom I spotted some clear references to Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket but there are probably barbed arrows that I missed along the way  I joined t'see exciting forrin places and meet erotic people declares Carborundum a rumbling troll in search of adventure who probably means exotic people The platoon also includes an Igor an abstinent vampire a pyromaniac a pregnant girl a religious zealot modelled after Jeanne d'Arc a couple of runaways from a correction house etc Together they will become famous as the Monstrous Regiment and they will change the course of historyThis would have been one of my favorite Discworld novels given the mastery of plot comedy and pathos that I have come to expect from every new Pratchett novel but for a small bother view spoiler I enjoyed the reversal of gender roles but I believe the joke was taken too far by the end of the novel with almost everybody being a woman in disguise hide spoiler

  6. says:

    Welcome to BorograviaIt is currently at war with Szlobenia Well Borogravia is always at war with someone It has been at war with every single one of its neighours and with some of them even than once Why? Because they consider it their patriotic duty Just like never giving up even if the only reason for their survival is that their enemy doesn't want to just senselessly slaughter them where they standOne Borogravian doesn't really care about the war All she cares about is finding her brother To do that she cuts her hair stuffs some socks into her trousers and marches off as a soldier in the army She is surprised to find she is not the only womangirl who had reason to disguise herself and enlist Amongst the comrades in her regiment are a vampire a troll and an Igor To say nothing of the apparently legendary Sergeant Jackrum On the periphery we get a few glimpses at this mess from the POV of Commander Vimes and deWord as this business is involving Ankh Morpork too so long as they can help an underdog against a royal without having to spend too much money Sir Terry obviously had uite a few things to say about war and patriotism corporate and state interests in wars and general soldiering It might very well be that he and I had uite different opinions on the matters Then again it's entirely possible that we might have agreed at least on some of the things It's hard to say since Sir Terry isn't just repeating old jokes and snide remarks the ones about soldiers being too stupid to be doing any other job or the ones of officers vs grunts etc That would be too one sided and narrow minded Instead he was aware of and also showed commended even the other sensible aspects the camaraderie for example And that is what I love so bloody much about the author no matter his personal stance he always gives a 360° view This is important since nothing especially not something as complex as state politics and wars is black or white It's not just one thing or another either To get to the bottom of it to be able to form an informed opinion you need all available information and he didn't just want to make you agree with him he wanted to make you think for yourself As far as I can tell this installment of the Discworld series was published after the start of the second Ira war But while that might have been the reason for him writing this book Sir Terry is settling the account with humanity's overall history of war Thus the story has elements from the Bosnian war the two World Wars perhaps even the Falkland wars as well To give this book an additional edge because that is how the author rolled the story is also about gender roles religious fanatism and the concepts of honour and freedom Delivering the necessary comic relief are the uirks of all the different races in the titular Monstrous Regiment including but not limited to the vampire's coffee obsession and the general absurdity of many a situation The most endearing bit to me was the heart warming sisterbrotherhood of the regiment Not the strongest installment of the series but seriously good in its own right 

  7. says:

    That'd been almost a year ago when any recruiting party that came past went away with the best part of a battalion and there had been people waving them off with flags and music Sometimes now smaller parties of men came back The lucky ones were missing only one arm or one leg There were no flagsIt's hard finding soldiers when you're always at war Especially when you're fighting a war that you may not be winningEventually you end up taking whatever you can gettrolls vampires evenGASPwomenThe horror the horrorThe newest recruits to This Man's Army snicker are a mixed bunch and they're uickly discovering that war is not all it's cracked up to be They find themselves ill euipped with only hand me downs from dead soldiers and no rationsWe have to steal our food? said MaladictNo you can starve if that takes your fancy said the corporal I've starved a few times There's no future in itThings can only get worse Then they doMen I have good news he added but in the voice of one who hasn't You were probably expecting a week or two in the training camp in Crotz yes? But I'm glad to be able to tell you that the the war is progressing so so well that you are to go directly to the frontSoon reality sets in and the realization of their dire predicament descends like a fogThey were losing the war Everyone knew that but nobody would say it It was as if they felt that if the words weren't said out loud then it wasn't really happening They were losing the war and this suad untrained and untried fighting in dead men's boots could only help them lose it fasterI have a problem when it comes to some Pratchett novels particularly those lacking in witches I'm reading along like gangbusters then about halfway through I lose all interest I begin eyeing up that stack of unread perhaps interesting books by the bed I call this The Discworld Doldrums Luckily my attention bounced back with this one though I honestly believe a pared down version might have been funnier So this was definitely not a high point in the series for me HOWEVER Pratchett does a fantastic job of summing up the folly of warWe are a proud countryWhat are you proud of?It came swiftly like a blow and Polly realized how wars happened You took that shock that had run through her and let it boil it may be corrupt benighted and stupid but it's oursWe have our pride And that's what we're proud of We're proud of being proud

  8. says:

    Re Read 121019A delightful Discworld read that dives head first into a little country's war problem Well it's not really a problem per se in fact it's almost done As in fini Kaput With them the ultimate losersSo you'd think with all the men being dead and all they'd be welcoming of a bit of some added support And I'm not talking bras or AM I?A very funny book There are a few coffee drinking beasties here a troll and even an Igorina It turns into a kinda Hogan's Heroes Or rather Heroines And ooooh the abominations Cross Dressing Everywhere

  9. says:

    January 10 2017March 22 2015January 1 2004I'm fond of stories about girls dressing as boys in order to do something they would otherwise be prohibited from Very funnyLibrary copy

  10. says:

    It is an amazing coincidence that my 31st Discworld novel is #31 since I have focused on the City Watch series the Tiffany Aching series and the recent humorous booksIn this one Sir Terry's prime focus on the follies of war The aging but much experienced Sergeant Jackrum is recruiting soldiers because most have been captured or killed even though his side is supposedly winning Only misfits are left those wanting to escape their dreary or worse lives So he ends up with a vampire a troll an Igor and a young woman named Polly who pretends to be a boy Private Oliver Perks so she can find her brother who is MIA Leading the group is Lieutenant Blouse a thinking officer who is derisively referred to as a Rupert Against all odds this group view spoilerof all women except Blouse hide spoiler