A beautiful new hardback edition of the classic Discworld novelPolly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry Cutting off her hair and wearing trousers was easy Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took timeAnd now she s enlisted in the army, and searching for her lost brotherBut there s a war on There s always a war on And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it, without any training, and the enemy is hunting them There was always a war Usually they were border disputes, the national equivalent of complaining that the neighbor was letting their hedge grow too long Sometimes they were bigger Borogravia was a peace loving country in the midst of treacherous, devious, warlike enemies They had to be treacherous, devious, and war like, otherwise we wouldn t be fighting them, eh There was always a war The Night Watch goes to War Or, at least, that was my expectation before I started the novel Only thinThere was always a war Usually they were border disputes, the national equivalent of complaining that the neighbor was letting their hedge grow too long Sometimes they were bigger Borogravia was a peace loving country in the midst of treacherous, devious, warlike enemies They had to be treacherous, devious, and war like, otherwise we wouldn t be fighting them, eh There was always a war The Night Watch goes to War Or, at least, that was my expectation before I started the novel Only thing is, this Discworld novel is not exactly about the Night Watch, even if Sam Vimes, Angua and a couple of others do participate in the conflict The theme chosen by Sir Terry is indeed the lampooning of martial mentality, but the main actors are a bunch of fresh recruits in the army of Borogravia Each of these recruits harbors a secret identity, and I guess it is not much of a spoiler to mention that for some of them that identity has to do with gender roles.A long history of open conflict with all its neighbors, in particular a recent attack on Ankh Morpork clack towers has brought Vimes and the imperial forces to fight on the side of Zlobenia and has left Borogravia deprived of fresh blood to send to the slaughter Recruiting parties are chased out of the impoverished villages empty handed, until Polly decides to switch genres and enroll All it takes, apparently is a pair of socks, shorn hair and a lifetime of observing the habits of the opposite sexYou might pick your nose a bitoften Just a tip Few things interest a young manthan the contents of his nostrils The new platoon that Polly joins is heading for the front, where a defeated Borogravian army is dug in under the battlements of a massive fortress they just lost due to the deviousness of Vimes Under the fierce tutelage of veteran sergeant Jackrum, a ragtag collection of losers and misfits is welded together into a formidable fighting machine, in the best tradition of war movies that Pratchett sets out to subvert with an energy and a self assurance that proves the Discworld treasure chest of ideas is far for reaching its bottom I spotted some clear references to Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, but there are probablybarbed arrows that I missed along the wayI joined t see exciting forrin places and meet erotic peopledeclares Carborundum, a rumbling troll in search of adventure who probably means exotic people The platoon also includes an Igor, an abstinent vampire, a pyromaniac, a pregnant girl, a religious zealot modelled after Jeanne d Arc, a couple of runaways from a correction house, etc Together they will become famous as the Monstrous Regiment and they will change the course of history.This would have been one of my favorite Discworld novels, given the mastery of plot, comedy and pathos that I have come to expect from every new Pratchett novel, but for a small bother view spoiler I enjoyed the reversal of gender roles, but I believe the joke was taken too far by the end of the novel, with almost everybody being a woman in disguise hide spoiler An added attraction in the story is the second main avenue of attack for the author religious intolerance Borogravian military problems are compounded by their peculiar branch of belief in a living holy scripture, whose Book of Nuggan addendum is much longer than the main text and is updated weekly with new interdictions and sins, like red hair, pickles or singingThe presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they ve found itmay not be the most original dictum written by Pratchett, but it is one I could subscribe to without reservations.Time to say goodbye to Pollyand wish her all the best of luck trying to revolutionaze the Borogravian rigid ways, while I add to my TBR the next Discworld issue Five stars really aren t enough I think this might be my favorite Terry Pratchett book I ve read it at least 3 4 times, and re reading it today, I m delighted to discover that it s every bit as good as before As an added bonus, this book would be easier for new readers of Pratchett to pick up There are a few characters from previous books, but they only have very brief cameo appearances Other than that the book is pretty much self contained pat Yer mom wears army boots Men and women, women and men Men without women, women doing just fine without men.Terry Pratchett s 31st Discworld novel, first published in 2003, is somewhat of a departure from the other series We see Sam Vimes and some members of his watch and there are distant grumblings about Ankh Morpork, but this is for the most part a stand alone about the small, proud truculent nation of Borogravia.This struggling nation state is foundering after decades or centuries of warfar Yer mom wears army boots Men and women, women and men Men without women, women doing just fine without men.Terry Pratchett s 31st Discworld novel, first published in 2003, is somewhat of a departure from the other series We see Sam Vimes and some members of his watch and there are distant grumblings about Ankh Morpork, but this is for the most part a stand alone about the small, proud truculent nation of Borogravia.This struggling nation state is foundering after decades or centuries of warfare, attacking and defending against the aggression of its neighbors But Pratchett draws a picture of a population and culture bent and warped by a ridiculous religion and the near worship of a monarch Blind faith and mistaken loyalties are two of the elements that Sir Terry has fun with in this very well done novel.Told in alineal manner than many of his eclectic stories, this one hasasomber tone than most, this being about war, but it also had some of the most laugh out loud scenes of any of his books Perhaps Pratchett, taking on a serious subject, realized the need for some uproarious comic relief His sense of timing is impeccable.I always like it, whether in a film or a book, when a supporting character takes over and steals the show While the protagonist here is a young girl who cuts her hair and surreptitiously joins the army, Sergeant Jackrum takes over and is by far the most interesting player.This one took a while to get moving for me but then it really took over and I thoroughly enjoyed this Pratchett asks some serious questions in his enjoyably non serious way and leaves the reader with some thought provoking ideas about war and peace, about ourselves, and the value of tradition against common sense That d been almost a year ago, when any recruiting party that came past went away with the best part of a battalion, and there had been people waving them off with flags and music Sometimes, now, smaller parties of men came back The lucky ones were missing only one arm or one leg There were no flags.It s hard finding soldiers when you re always at war Especially when you re fighting a war that you may not be winning.Eventually, you end up taking whatever you can gettrolls, vampires, even That d been almost a year ago, when any recruiting party that came past went away with the best part of a battalion, and there had been people waving them off with flags and music Sometimes, now, smaller parties of men came back The lucky ones were missing only one arm or one leg There were no flags.It s hard finding soldiers when you re always at war Especially when you re fighting a war that you may not be winning.Eventually, you end up taking whatever you can gettrolls, vampires, evenGASP women The horror, the horror The newest recruits to This Man s Army snicker are a mixed bunch and they re quickly discovering that war is not all it s cracked up to be They find themselves ill equipped with only hand me downs from dead soldiers and no rations We have to steal our food said Maladict No, you can starve if that takes your fancy, said the corporal I ve starved a few times There s no future in it Things can only get worse Then, they do Men, I have good news, he added, but in the voice of one who hasn t You were probably expecting a week or two in the training camp in Crotz, yes But I m glad to be able to tell you that the, the war is progressing so, so well that you are to go directly to the front Soon, reality sets in and the realization of their dire predicament descends like a fog.They were losing the war Everyone knew that, but nobody would say it It was as if they felt that if the words weren t said out loud then it wasn t really happening They were losing the war and this squad, untrained and untried, fighting in dead men s boots, could only help them lose it faster.I have a problem when it comes to some Pratchett novels, particularly those lacking in witches I m reading along like gangbusters, then about halfway through, I lose all interest I begin eyeing up that stack of unread, perhaps,interesting books by the bed I call this The Discworld Doldrums Luckily, my attention bounced back with this one, though I honestly believe a pared down version might have been funnier So, this was definitely not a high point in the series for me HOWEVER Pratchett does a fantastic job of summing up the folly of war We are a proud country What are you proud of It came swiftly, like a blow, and Polly realized how wars happened You took that shock that had run through her and let it boil it may be corrupt, benighted, and stupid, but it s oursWe have our pride And that s what we re proud of We re proud of being proud Welcome to Borogravia.It is currently at war with Szlobenia Well, Borogravia is always at war with someone It has been at war with every single one of its neighours and with some of them eventhan once Why Because they consider it their patriotic duty Just like never giving up even if the only reason for their survival is that their enemy doesn t want to just senselessly slaughter them where they stand.One Borogravian doesn t really care about the war All she cares about is finding he Welcome to Borogravia.It is currently at war with Szlobenia Well, Borogravia is always at war with someone It has been at war with every single one of its neighours and with some of them eventhan once Why Because they consider it their patriotic duty Just like never giving up even if the only reason for their survival is that their enemy doesn t want to just senselessly slaughter them where they stand.One Borogravian doesn t really care about the war All she cares about is finding her brother To do that, she cuts her hair, stuffs some socks into her trousers and marches off as a soldier in the army She is surprised to find she is not the only woman girl who had reason to disguise herself and enlist Amongst the comrades in her regiment are a vampire, a troll and an Igor To say nothing of the apparently legendary Sergeant Jackrum On the periphery, we get a few glimpses at this mess from the POV of Commander Vimes and deWord as this business is involving Ankh Morpork, too so long as they can help an underdog against a royal without having to spend too much money Sir Terry obviously had quite a few things to say about war and patriotism, corporate and state interests in wars and general soldiering It might very well be that he and I had quite different opinions on the matter s Then again, it s entirely possible that we might have agreed at least on some of the things It s hard to say since Sir Terry isn t just repeating old jokes and snide remarks the ones about soldiers being too stupid to be doing any other job, or the ones of officers vs grunts etc That would be too one sided and narrow minded Instead, he was aware of and also showed commended even the other,sensible aspects the camaraderie for example And that is what I love so bloody much about the author no matter his personal stance, he always gives a 360 view This is important since nothing, especially not something as complex as state politics and wars, is black or white It s not just one thing or another either To get to the bottom of it, to be able to form an informed opinion, you need all available information and he didn t just want to make you agree with him he wanted to make you think for yourself As far as I can tell, this installment of the Discworld series was published after the start of the second Iraq war But while that might have been the reason for him writing this book, Sir Terry is settling the account with humanity s overall history of war Thus, the story has elements from the Bosnian war, the two World Wars, perhaps even the Falkland wars as well To give this book an additional edge because that is how the author rolled , the story is also about gender roles, religious fanatism and the concepts of honour and freedom Delivering the necessary comic relief are the quirks of all the different races in the titular Monstrous Regiment including but not limited to the vampire s coffee obsession and the general absurdity of many a situation The most endearing bit to me was the heart warming sisterbrotherhood of the regiment Not the strongest installment of the series but seriously good in its own right Re Read 12 10 19 A delightful Discworld read that dives head first into a little country s war problem Well, it s not really a problem, per se in fact, it s almost done As in fini Kaput With them the ultimate losers.So you d think, with all the men being dead and all, they d bewelcoming of a bit of some added support And I m not talking bras or AM I A very funny book There are a few coffee drinking beasties here, a troll, and even an Igor ina It turns into a kinda Hogan s Her Re Read 12 10 19 A delightful Discworld read that dives head first into a little country s war problem Well, it s not really a problem, per se in fact, it s almost done As in fini Kaput With them the ultimate losers.So you d think, with all the men being dead and all, they d bewelcoming of a bit of some added support And I m not talking bras or AM I A very funny book There are a few coffee drinking beasties here, a troll, and even an Igor ina It turns into a kinda Hogan s Heroes Or rather, Heroines And ooooh the abominations Cross Dressing Everywhere January 10, 2017March 22, 2015January 1, 2004I m fond of stories about girls dressing as boys in order to do something they would otherwise be prohibited from Very funny.Library copy This is the second most frequently read of my favorite Terry Pratchett books, the first being Night Watch, which helped get me through the death of my mother My latest copy of Monstrous Regiment is so battered and dog eared that it s falling apart From sentence number one I was riveted and if you are wondering whether you should read this book, the short answer is yes, turn your cursor right now to a new tab and order it, or even better jog out to your local probably half an hour away bookst This is the second most frequently read of my favorite Terry Pratchett books, the first being Night Watch, which helped get me through the death of my mother My latest copy of Monstrous Regiment is so battered and dog eared that it s falling apart From sentence number one I was riveted and if you are wondering whether you should read this book, the short answer is yes, turn your cursor right now to a new tab and order it, or even better jog out to your local probably half an hour away bookstore they re an endangered species and support them by buying it there.It s that good Sir Terry is that good a writer Read the book before finishing this review you ll thank me for the advice, and if you haven t already devoured the Discworld series you are in for the rollercoaster ride and treat of your life.By the way, Sir Terry is a personal hero of mine When he died last March I cried for days He went leaving the bravest self written epitaph I have ever read Terry took Death s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.The End I was so stricken and devastated when I read this that I wrote a short response to it, which I kept to myself because I realized that I had no right to besmirch Sir Terry s courage by imposing my own end of life beliefs on his in public I get choked up just trying to write about this wonderful man and I ardently look forward to the day when we can cure Alzheimer s disease and save the minds of other brilliant people like him.And guess what Monstrous Regiment is a gender bending book, meaning that it s about a girl who dresses up as a boy to get into the army of an extremely misogynistic and backward country so she can try to rescue her older brother Paul, whom she has taken care of since she was a child That s not a spoiler, by the way that s on the back cover The entire story is about female and male roles, and whether or not they should change Ahem More about that later But the point is, this is an extremely appropriate book for the first of my new reviews It s also a book that will probably make you think a few new thoughts, especially if female equality isn t an obsession of yours, and therefore obviously worth reading.Monstrous Regiment will also make you think about war There is enough about realistic fighting in it to make you freeze in shock at points Like Night Watch, like all of Sir Terry s best writing, it deals with a serious subject in a loopy way, and the loopiness in turn has a deadly serious razor edge to it Yes, yes, war is bad and grass is green except in drought stricken California, where it s dun but Monstrous Regiment will make you feel up close and personal what it s like to be a soldier And heaven only knows they know what war is really like If you don t feel some wheels turning in your head as you re evaluate your position on whether anybody should fight anybody with anything after reading this book you are either smarter than everyone else left here in the world and maybe a bodhisattva or dumber than a pigeon.The third subject Monstrous Regiment takes on is religion Yes, organized religion and heavenly religion, too And, once again, the book will probably surprise you It astounded and amazed me by its bravery in handling this particular hot potato I won t go into the subject at length here because there are some spoilers that are pretty important to the discussion, but suffice it to say that new thoughts may well rocket back and forth in your head at the speed of a light clacks signals, which is to say at c for celeritas Sir Terry is a genius when it comes to turning established truths on their heads and then turning them back over againand back upside down just for good measure So definitely, without doubt, read the book There are some terrific characters introduced here The protagonist, Polly Oliver Ozzer Perks, is a very likeable girl, and the question of whether she is a lovable girl a hero to adore and or emulate doesn t really even arise I d be entirely happy to have Polly on my team any day, and I d not hesitate to call on her in time of need She s smart and solid That s high praise from me Overall The action in the book is fast and furious, the humor is hilarious, the writing is fresh and vibrant, the ideas breathtaking, and there are even a few brief appearances by Samuel Vimes, who is my favorite of all Sir Terry s characters, male or female That is my conventional review of Monstrous Regiment, and I give it a conventional five out of five stars.See the comments below for the rest of my review It is an amazing coincidence that my 31st Discworld novel is 31 since I have focused on the City Watch series, the Tiffany Aching series, and the recent,humorous books.In this one, Sir Terry s prime focus on the follies of war The aging but much experienced Sergeant Jackrum is recruiting soldiers because most have been captured or killed, even though his side is supposedly winning Only misfits are left those wanting to escape their dreary or worse lives So, he ends up with a vampire It is an amazing coincidence that my 31st Discworld novel is 31 since I have focused on the City Watch series, the Tiffany Aching series, and the recent,humorous books.In this one, Sir Terry s prime focus on the follies of war The aging but much experienced Sergeant Jackrum is recruiting soldiers because most have been captured or killed, even though his side is supposedly winning Only misfits are left those wanting to escape their dreary or worse lives So, he ends up with a vampire, a troll, an Igor, and a young woman, named Polly, who pretends to be a boy Private Oliver Perks so she can find her brother, who is MIA Leading the group is Lieutenant Blouse, a thinking officer, who is derisively referred to as a Rupert Against all odds, this group view spoiler of all women, except Blouse hide spoiler manages to change the course of the war with their bravery, determination and common sense.Favorite quote The enemy wasn t men, or women, or the old, or even the dead It was just bleedin stupid people, who came in all varieties And no one had the right to be stupid.