Terry Pratchett’s Monstrous Regiment is following two of the best books he’s written, so I suppose he’s earned the right to phone this one in.

And he did. This is Discworld thematic puree — take a good dose of the gender role stuff from Sourcery, mix it up with the international-relations stuff of Jingo, take a bit of the ethnic-mixing stuff from Feet of Clay, touch on the power of the press from The Truth, and throw in a bit of Vimes-in-Eastern-Europe from Carpe Jugulum (or was that The Fifth Elephant? Both?), and voila. You’ve got yourself a heaping helping of Monstrous Regiment.

That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book; I’m not even sure if Pratchett could write a bad book, any more. Monstrous Regiment moves along quite nicely, is skillfully written, and has interesting (if familiar) characters. Judged against other humorous fantasy, it’s a work of pure, iridescent brilliance; but judged against other Discworld books, it’s nothing special. It seems destined to be one of those middle-of-the-pack ones that you can never remember (Quick! What’s Men at Arms about?).


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