I saw this thread yesterday, and didn’t bother to open it. Instead, I grabbed my coat and head straight to the bookstore to buy it. (Picked up the new Stephenson, while I was there. Who needs to eat?) Started reading it about 11:00 that night, finished at 5 AM. Six hours. I think that’s a personal best. Thank God I had today off.
And damn me, but this was a good book. Not his best: that still goes to Small Gods or Good Omens, either of which would be my choice for an introduction to Terry Pratchett. But still, really, really excellent. I think I’ll continue in a spoiler box, just in case:
[spoiler]I was a little worried at the beginning, when he started in with the vampire, troll, and Igor again. I thought he was just re-doing the City Watch all over. I remember thinking, “I hope he takes the time to develop the human recruits, and doesn’t just make the same dumb troll/suave vampire/creepy Igor jokes all over again.” Silly me: they were only in there so that he could get away with his (very) clever title. Wazzer and Tonker are among his strongest characters, ever. Tonker gave me chills, talking about their time at the “Girl’s Workhouse.” And Wazzer freaked me right out, when she was talking about listening to the Duchess crying.
I saw most of the twists coming, but he also threw me a few false leads. I figured out about Jackrum being a woman pretty early on, but I was convinced she was going to be the Duchess in disguise. She’d have been about the right age, and it would explain why no one ever saw the Duchess after she went into “mourning.” Initially, I thought Blouse was supposed to be a Disc version of Teddy Roosevelt, but that didn’t get developed the way I thought it would. I also wasn’t sure if Wazzer was supposed to Joan of Arc or the Telly Savalas character from The Dirty Dozen. Could have gone either way, especially with all the mysterious fires.
There was one line, not especially funny on its own, but in context it was me literally paralyzed with laughter for a good five minutes. And I mean literally literally, not figuratively literally. The line was from the court martial:
“‘Lieutenant Blouse tells me he is a man, sir,’ said Clogston. ‘Since he is an officer and a gentleman, I will take his word for it.’”
That’s right up there with “Gentleman, you can’t fight here! This is the War Room!” for terminally hilarious wit.[/spoiler]
And I really loved the book’s title. Fecking brilliant.