[By Nic Lindh on Friday, 10 September 2004]
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series is a treasure. Monstrous Regiment is the latest installment, and it does not disappoint.
The plot takes place in the more-than-a-little East European-feeling nation of Borogravia, a country constantly at war with everybody else–naturally, since all the other countries are underhanded and deceitful–and has now come to the end of the line as its neighbors have finally allied against its belligerence.
Borogravia also suffers from an increasingly demented deity, Nuggan, whose Holy Text comes in a three ring binder so that more Abominations can be added as time goes on–Abominations such as the color blue. Devout Nugganites take care not to look at the sky.
The older Pratchett gets, the more pathos he injects into the Discworld novels, and Monstrous Regiment is a great examination of the perils of unbridled jingoism and religious fanaticism, while at the same time containing enough of the classic Pratchett whimsy and fantastic command of the language that there are several laugh-out-loud moments in the novel.
At the same time, the torment felt by most of the characters is brought forward both effectively and soberly, peppering the underlying joi de vivre.
Monstrous Regiment is Terry Pratchett at the top of his game–J. R. R. Tolkien and Monthy Python in a drunken embrace.