Saturday, March 5, 2011

Book Review: Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett likes to take themes - certain Shakespeare plays, industrialism, equal rights, murder mysteries - and parody the heck out of them, while turning them inside out and examining them more deeply than the puns first suggest. Monstrous Regiment parodies the 'Dont Ask, Don't Tell' rules of the US Army (written before they were repealed).

 "I really did enjoy writing Monstrous Regiment, which in a way became very close to becoming mainstream. With minimal changes it could have been set in the Peninsular Wars in the real world. [...] As a matter of fact I did a lot of interesting work for Monstrous Regiment in lesbian book shops."  
Terry Pratchett in an interview with Neil Gaiman about his latest book, Snuff

Monstrous Regiment is the story of a country locked in an endless, draining and ridiculous war. And all the men have been used up. Polly disguises herself as a boy and signs up among the last recruits of the entire war, on a mission to find her brother. Along the way, she discovers that her fellow recruits are all... hiding their own secrets. It ends with a Joan of Arc storyline, but not from Polly.

This book is the favourite target for Discworld femslash, and has a lot of potential subtext. There's also one definite lesbian pairing, but the main focus is on ...well, feminism, rather than lesbianism. Of course, nobody actually asks...

The title is a reference to the 1558 pamphlet The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, written by John Knox . This pamphlet complained about the sudden appearance of female monarchs such as Elizabeth of England and Mary of Scotland pre-empting the natural position and authority of men.
A close-up on the characters (I love Paul Kidby's cover art)
From left: Jade, Sergeant Jackrum, don't know, Maladicta, Polly

If you've never read any of the Discworld novels, then this is a very good place to start - while it does feature some of the ongoing characters from the rest of the series, it's more of a stand alone title, and quite self-contained within the country of Borogravia. And trust me, you don't want to start with the 'first' Discworld novel.

Available from The Book Depository (free global shipping) and Amazon

You may also be interested in:

No comments:

Post a Comment