If a gun was put to my head, or, more to the point, a match to my library, and I had to chose my favourite Discworld book my brain would go straight to Monstrous Regiment.
This is one of the books I think of as ‘grown up’ books because this is where you can more clearly see the angry that Neil Gaiman talks about his article here.
It does all of the things that I love most about the Discworld books so well.
It takes an idea (in this instance heroine dressed as a boy) and pushes it so far to the extreme that before you realise it you’ve gone full circle and are looking back thinking that the insanity actually makes a great deal of sense.
The title is multi layered and so ridiculously clever when you get it. See here.
When you finish it you feel like you’ve been on an inner journey. Every time I come out of Monstrous Regiment I want to go and adjust my socks. It’s a book that shouts out that you have to be yourself no matter how hard it is, or how inconvenient it is for everybody else.
It’s embarrassing for the high command that the country has been saved by a group of girls pretending to be soldiers.
And when those girls (who were not actually pretending. They took their shilling, didn’t they? They fought, didn’t they?) are sent home with a pat on the head, they make that work in their favour too. It’s really all a matter of perception.
Be yourself. Without Fear. Without Apology and the day is whatever you want it to be (including an aquatic life form, or not, as the case may be.)
Thank you for your books Mr Pratchett. I’m saving The Shepherd’s Crown for when I need it most.