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Monstrous Regiment

Monstrous Regiment - Terry Pratchett I'm not caught up on the Discworld novels. Part of the reason is that there are just so many books in the series, and I'm not quite willing to commit that many books when there are so many other books I want to read, too. So, when I hear about some books in the series that can be read without having to have knowledge of all its preceding books, I give them a try. Monstrous Regiment is one of those books.

In this volume, Polly cuts off her long hair and enlists in the army as a man in order to find her brother, who has gone missing in the war. It's an inauspicious beginning, one that's been used in several stories over the years, but it's just the catalyst Pratchett uses to tell a story about politics, gender identity, war, religion, and the military. It sounds like it would be a hefty book, considering the topics it covers, but Pratchett does a great job of injecting levity throughout the story. It's not the kind of humorous book where things don't have a sense of importance -- the stories and motivations behind the main characters have weight -- but the humor helps the reader process these heavy topics more easily.

The story seems to take a long time to get going. There are a lot of characters to introduce, so much of the first half of the novel feels like exposition. Looking back, though, it's hard to think of another way Pratchett could have introduced the story. The characters are important, and it's necessary to know as much as we do about them before we get into the plot of the story. It might take a little while to get settled into the book, but once you do, I think you'll have the proper investment into the characters.

For folks who already know about Pratchett ... well, honestly, they'll have already read the book. But if you've heard of him, but haven't read much (or any) of his works before, this would be a good place to start. It's encouraged me to maybe (maybe) seek out the rest of the series to see how they hold up.