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.
Searching Book Reviews.
What do you get when you cross a vampire, a troll, Igor, a collection of misfits, and a young woman who shoves a pair of socks down her pants to join the army? The answer's simple. You have Monstrous Regiment. the characteristically charming novel by Terry Pratchett.
Polly becomes Private Oliver Perks, who is on a quest to find her older brother, who's recently MIA in one of the innumerable wars the tiny nation of Borogravia has a habit of starting with its neighbors. This peevish tendency has all but expended Borogravia's ranks of cannon fodder. Whether Sergeant Jackrum knows her secret or not, he can't afford to be choosy, as Perks and her/his comrades are among the last able-bodied recruits left in Borogravia. This collection of misfits includes the aforementioned vampire (reformed and off the blood, thank you), troll, and macabre Igor, who is only too happy to sew you a new leg if you aren't too particular about previous ownership. Off to war, Polly/Oliver learns that having a pair of, um, socks is a good way to open up doors in this man's army.
For those who haven't made this underrated author's acquaintance, Monstrous Regiment is as good a place to start as any. Readers will encounter Pratchett's subtle and disarming wit, his trademark footnoted asides along with a not-too-shabby tale of honor, courage, and duty in the face of absurd circumstances. --Jeremy Pugh Book Description
The Monstrous Regiment is made up of a vampire, a troll, Igor, a collection of misfits and a young woman who discovers that a pair of socks shoved down her pants is a good way to get ahead in a man's army.
Ideal for young adults, this is Stephen Briggs' brilliant stage adaptation of one of Terry Pratchett's best-selling Discworld novels.
Terry Pratchett is one of the most popular authors writing today. Stephen Briggs is his chosen stage adapter.
News from the New American Diaspora and Other Tales of Exile (Literary Modernism SeriesThomas F. Staley, series editor)
Copyright © 2004Terry Pratchett
All right reserved.
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.
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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 to capture 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.
Harper 2003. ISBN-10: 006001315X. War has come to Discworld. again.
And, to no one's great surprise, the conflict centers on the small, insufferably arrogant, strictly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on it's ability to beat up on its neighbors for even the tiniest imagined slight. This time, however, it's Borogravia that's getting its long overdue comeuppance, which has left the country severely drained of young men.
Ever since her brother Paul marched off to battle a year ago, Polly Perks has been running The Duchess,her family's inn - even though the revered national deity Nuggan has decreed that female ownership of a business is an Abomination (with, among others, oysters, rocks, and the color blue). To keep The Duchess in the family, Polly must find her missing sibling. So she cuts off her hair, dons masculine garb, and sets out to join him in this man's army.
Despite her rapid mastery of belching, scratching, and other macho habits (and aided by a well-placed pair of socks), Polly is afraid that someone will immediately see through her disguise; a fear that proves groundless when the recruiting officer, the legendary and seemingly ageless Sergeant Jackrum, accepts her without question. Or perhaps the sergeant is simply too desperate for fresh cannon fodder to discriminate - which would explain why a vampire, a troll, a zombie, a religious fanatic, and two uncommonly close "friends" are also eagerly welcomed into the fighting fold. But marching off with little (read: no) training, Polly (now called "Oliver") finds herself wondering about the myriad peculiarities of her new brothers-in-arms. It would appear that Polly "Ozzer" Perks is not the only grunt with a secret. There is no time to dwell on such matters, however.Duty calls. The battlefield beckons. There's a tide to be turned.
And sometimes in war as in everything else the best man for the job is a woman.
Title: "Monstrous Regiment"
Author: Terry Pratchett
This, the 28th (or 29th, depending) novel of Discworld is an abomination unto Nuggan. Of course, Accordian players, the color blue, rocks. in fact it is difficult to find something that isn't an abomination unto Nuggan, God of Borogravia. That having been said, this is one of Terry Pratchett's slyest, darkest, and yet wondrous and fulfilling, forays into that mad mirror to our world, the universe of Discworld.
The story starts with Polly Perks, innkeeper's daughter, cutting off her hair, and slipping out into the early morning as "Oliver Perks", off to join the old Ins And Outs of the Borogravian army, in search of her gentle, and lost brother Paul. There are a lot of little throwaways in this book, as evidently Terry is a fan of folk music, so the old English folk songs, "Polly Oliver", "Johnny's Gone For A Soldier", "Jackie Munroe", and others set many of the themes the book is built around.
Terry has looked at many things of our world through the lens of Discworld, such as the Faust theme, Phantom of the Opera, Rock and Roll, Newspapers, Hollywood, and so on, but now he takes on War. Borogravia is a tiny duchy which finds itself constantly at war with its neighboring countries. "We're a proud country. And that's what we're proud of. We're proud of being proud."
As Polly enlists, she's joined by others. A vampire, a troll, an Igor (famous as assistants to mad scientists, they are a joy on the Napoleonic-style battlefields of Discworld. If they don't have the hands of a surgeon when they start, no doubt they'll run across another Igor somewhere willing to transplant a pair. ) and other assorted young misfits. But is it these, what we would call, monsters, who make this a "Monstrous Regiment"? Actually, no. The title refers back to a screed by 16th century pamphleteer John Knox who wrote a book called "The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women", mostly a diatribe against the Catholic Queens of England, and detailing how it was an affront against God for women to be in positions of authority and the military.
It is interesting. I was reading another review of Monstrous Regiment wherein they determined that the book was well written but not very subtle. I'm afraid he missed a lot. I really don't want to go into a lot of detail on this book, as the plotting is tight, and spoilers could abound. Monstrous Regiment. like Night Watch is not a knee slapper. Certainly there are parts that make you laugh out loud. There are parts that make you misty-eyed. There are parts that make you think.
Is the best man for the job a woman? Why is the Nugganantic Holy book a loose-leaf binder so that readers can slip in new blank pages? What happens when a vampire re-affixes his addiction to blood to an addiction to coffee?
Well, I could blather on, but I won't, but as an aside, I'm reading The Annotated Wizard of Oz and I could seriously imagine someone in a few years putting together an "Annotated Monstrous Regiment". There are so many deliberate references to things like, for example, the Magdalene Laundries of Ireland that one could spend a long time playing "spot the reference".
Terry Pratchett just keeps getting better and better, and unlike the "pitcher that went to the well once too often", his well is still very deep, and filled with the water of wisdom.
Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Wright
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