Raising Steam : Discworld

  • by Terry Pratchett
  • Narrated by Stephen Briggs
  • Series: Discworld
  • 12 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

The new Discworld novel, the 40th in the series, sees the Disc's first train come steaming into town.
Change is afoot in Ankh-Morpork. Discworld's first steam engine has arrived, and once again Moist von Lipwig finds himself with a new and challenging job.

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What the Critics Say

Advance Praise for Raising Steam

“A spectacular novel, and a gift from a beloved writer to his millions of fans. . . . A tremendous synthesis of everything that makes Pratchett one of the world’s most delightful writers.”
    —Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

“From the first, the novels demonstrated Pratchett's eye for telling detail and the absurdities of the human condition. . . . He remains one of the most consistently funny writers around; a master of the stealth simile, the time-delay pun and the deflationary three-part list. . . . I could tell which of my fellow tube passengers had downloaded it to their e-readers by the bouts of spontaneous laughter.”
    —Ben Aaronovitch, The Guardian

"Terry Pratchett’s creation is still going strong after 30 years. . . . Most aficionados, however, will be on the look-out for in-jokes and references from previous novels—of which there is no shortage. Discworld’s success, like that of Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories, has never been driven by the plots. . . . It is at the level of the sentence that Pratchett wins his fans.”
    —Andrew McKie, The Times (London)

Praise for Terry Pratchett

“Terry Pratchett may still be pegged as a comic novelist, but . . . he’s a lot more. In his range of invented characters, his adroit storytelling, and his clear-eyed acceptance of humankind’s foibles, he reminds me of no one in English literature as much as Geoffrey Chaucer. No kidding.”
    —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World

“Given his prolificacy and breezy style, it’s easy to underestimate Pratchett. . . .  He’s far more than a talented jokesmith, though. His books are almost always better than they have to be.”
    —Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle

“Nonstop wit. . . . Pratchett is a master of juggling multiple plotlines and multiplying punchlines.”
    —Ken Barnes, USA Today

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

So much more than funny

It is hard to know how to characterize this and so many of Pratchett's other books in order to convey the desired impression which is, "If you have not already tried them, you really should read one right now." If a review mentions the goblins and trolls and werewolves and vampires, and the Leprechauns and, oh yes, the witches, it risks giving entirely the wrong impression. These have nothing in common with Tolkien and the least of them is far more human than your standard fantasy hero. If one refers to Pratchett as a brilliant humorist with a needle sharp wit, it suggests a self-conscious wordsmith who is too clever by half. Referring to his ability to crystallize the essence of human folly with deftly drawn plots which prick all our narrowest prejudices and suppositions with unerring accuracy suggests a tiresome agenda dressed up in borrowed whimsy.

Perhaps it is simplest just to say that his books are an accumulated treasure trove of wisdom and delight. This particular one is not the best place to begin exploring since it depends upon some familiarity with its forebears for complete appreciation. This is, after all, book 40. But you needn't go back to book one. I would suggest Going Postal, which will get you nicely on track for the characters in Raising Steam. My personal favorite is Monstrous Regiment, but a quick survey of the reviews for the books Audible offers should give you an idea of other starting places. And since both the narrators available are terrific, you can't go wrong there either.

One caveat. It may take you more than a chapter to get into the swing of things in Disk World. In fact, one of the hallmarks of these books is that their meaning and relevance accumulates, moving from whimsy to wisdom as each story progresses. This particular one starts a little more slowly than most and depends somewhat more on its predecessors, but by the end I was entirely delighted. Enjoy!
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- David

A fitting swan song for Discworld

This is obviously not the book to start with if you are new to Discworld, instead, given Sir Pratchetts's condition, it is more of a coda: there could still be more books in the series, but there won't be many. It is hard not to think about that fact constantly throughout the audiobook.

It is hard not to think about it because the book, while very good, is not as great as the absolute highpoints of the series: Thud, Night Watch, Going Postal, I Shall Wear Midnight, etc. That said, some of the criticism is unwarranted, since, while not the best Discworld novel, it is better than either the early novels, or the last couple of books. The writing is still generally very sharp, the characters still familiar, and the plot is fun. A little of the magic fades, however, for obvious reasons.

It is also hard not to think about because of the themes of this book. As the series has progressed, Pratchett's Discworld has changed from fantasy parody to sharp-eyed social commentary. This book, even more than Thud, develops the themes of tolerance and progress in ways that are sometimes a bit hokey, but even more often left me a bit misty-eyed. While the real world connections here are perhaps a bit too sharp (I am looking at you, Dwarven terrorists), it does advance the optimistic vision of the future that permeates Pratchett's.

Finally, it is hard not to think about because the series itself seems to be drawing to a natural close. The book features many of the key characters from the earlier novels, offering the chance to say goodbye to them. The technology and development of the world has advanced to be close to our own, and magic is clearly disappearing from the picture. And, of course Ankh-Morpork is simply becoming London (or New York), just with more trolls and goblins.
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I was reluctant to read the book after some negative reviews, but I am very glad I did. It was touching, sweet, and a fun read. It may not be as tight or sharp as some of the best books, but these are not lapses that detract from an otherwise terrific experience, with, as usual, amazing reading. If you are a Discworld fan, this is essential reading. If you aren't do a search for "discworld reading order" and get started!
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- Ethan M.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-18-2014
  • Publisher: Random House Audio