'You ride along on his tide of outlandish invention, realising that you are in the presence of a true original' The Times
The Discworld is very much like our own - if our own were to consist of a flat planet balanced on the back of four elephants which stand on the back of a giant turtle, that is . . .
'Trousers. That's the secret...Put on trousers and the world changes. We walk different. We act different. I see these girls and I think: idiots! Get yourself some trousers!'
Women belong in the kitchen - everyone knows that. Not in jobs, pubs or indeed trousers, and certainly not on the front line.
Nonetheless, Polly Perks has to become a boy in a hurry if she wants to find her missing brother in the army. Cutting off her hair and wearing the trousers is easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape takes more time.
There’s a war on. There's always a war on, and Polly and her fellow raw recruits are suddenly in the thick of it.
All they have on their side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee.
It's time to make a stand.
The Discworld novels can be read in any order but Monstrous Regiment is a standalone novel.
War is hell anywhere but in Pratchett's latest hilarious fantasy, the 28th wickedly satirical Discworld installment (after 2002's Night Watch), which makes some astute comments on power, religious intolerance and sexual stereotyping. Polly Perks, an exuberantly determined Borogravian barmaid, decides to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate the Tenth Foot Light Infantry (aka the Ins-and-Outs) and find her missing soldier brother, Paul. Polly/Oliver/Ozzer kisses a portrait of Grand Duchess Annagovia and enlists under old war-horse Sergeant ("I look after my lads") Jackrum. Shockingly, she eventually discovers most of the ragtag recruits are also female, including some Bad Girls who've escaped from the Girls' Working School, a coffee-craving vampire sworn off blood, a troll and a medic, all under the command of the male but very green Lieutenant Blouse and all absurdly delightful. The touching portrait of Wazzer, an abused girl who becomes a religious fanatic/saint, as well as Pratchett's perceptive handling of a timely topic countries fighting over a quarrel that began 1,000 years ago and quibbling over borders may inspire some sighs as well as laughter. And the author's take on what it takes for Polly to become a man socks, strategically placed ("Just one pair, mark you. Don't get ambitious") is nothing short of brilliant.
This is the third time I have read this book, over the last ten years. I still find it difficult to put it down.