Friday, March 8, 2013

Monstrous Regiment

by Terry Pratchett.

It's been several months since Polly Perks heard from her brother Paul, gone for a soldier, and she's used to getting him out of trouble; so she cuts off her hair and puts on some of Paul's old clothes, and the next morning a young man called Oliver Perks enlists in the Borogravian Army. She's put a lot of thought into how to maintain the imposture, but it soon becomes clear that she's not fooling everybody; on the other hand, before too long, some of her fellow recruits aren't fooling Polly, either.

I talked my book club into reading this one after they'd shot down two other sf/f titles I'd suggested. (Even then they had to pick an alternative for people who couldn't get into the Discworld; reality is a crutch for people who can't handle fantasy novels.) I have a feeling they may not let me pick the book again for a while, since at least one other member has already told me she gave up after 50 pages.

Another friend remarked that this one isn't Sir Terry's best, but I enjoyed it all the same. It covers pretty much every reason ever mentioned in a ballad for a girl disguising herself as a man to join the military. I also really like the title; inside the story, Polly's squad is referred to a couple of times as the "monstrous regiment" because the recruits include a troll and a vampire, but of course the phrase is also a callback to the famous polemical work of 1558, John Knox's "First blast of the trumpet against the monstruous regiment of women." He was using "monstruous regiment" to mean "unnatural government," and the whole thing was about how no woman should ever rule over men. So that connotation is appropriate to the Discworld book as well, and I'm looking forward to seeing if any of my book club ladies got that; assuming any of them finished the book.

No comments:

Post a Comment