In the twenty-fifth and final part of Raising Steam, the railway comes home. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
WELL, I DID NOT SUSPECT THIS AT ALL. Not even a shred of an idea this happened! But holy shit, of course Vetinari came along for the ride. It makes so much sense! And I’m so fascinated by the answer that Vetinari later gives when Moist asks why. There’s the unsaid practical answer: because Vetinari is putting a lot on the line for this railway to happen. So why wouldn’t he be there? I’m sure he also wanted to get to Bonk sooner rather than later, and I’m sure he knew that bridge wouldn’t last beyond the first trip. Thus, he would have been delayed even longer if he’d waited. But in his answer to Moist, we are shown a side to Vetinari that’s rare, and I believe that the fact that Vetinari does this is a HUGE gesture of respect. I wouldn’t say Vetinari has been as subtle in Raising Steam as he usually is, but he’s characteristically so here.
Why do I say that? Because in choosing to go on this journey, Vetinari is quietly telling Moist that he trusts him. That even though Moist is ridiculous and seeks out danger and a scoundrel and finds himself in increasingly bizarre situations on purpose, he still gets shit done. He still cares about other people. He will still do what’s best to keep other safe. He will get the job done. Which isn’t to say that this contradicts what he tells Moist, though! I believe that wholeheartedly. Pratchett reminds us that Vetinari trained with the Assassins Guild, but also makes sure we know that Vetinari was not so ordered and organized. He’s always seemed like he was barely tolerating Drumknott’s obsession with the trains, but in truth, didn’t he completely understand it? Was that Drumknott being in touch with his youth, with that sense of abandon that tempts each of us from time to time?
Pretending to be Stoker Blake and hiring Charlie to pretend to be him back home… that feels like the most human thing Vetinari has done in this series. And I, personally, completely love it.
I don’t think this last Discworld book is another Moist story, so planned or unplanned, this is most likely the last I’ll get of this character. His final scenes in this book comprise a few things. He gets some bliss in Adora Belle, and again: I’m so happy they get to stay together and that there’s no emotional conflict between them. It’s all just happiness. Actually, in this book, because Moist has been so busy, Adora Belle has become a sign of relief. Getting to see her causes a joy to wash over Moist as a weight lifts from his body. And it’s really beautiful that she represents that to him because he’s never had anyone like that before.
I also like that the scene that summarizes Moist’s journey actually belongs to Vimes. He gets his own form of closure here after a long time away from home. It was nice to see Lady Sybil again, and the idea of her getting to travel on the train to visit all her friends? Oh, I would read a thousand cozy mystery books where Sybil travels and solves crimes. A THOUSAND OF THEM. Anyway, Vimes says this in his scene:
“You know, that Lipwig character isn’t quite as bad as I thought. Acts like a scoundrel but reasonably helpful when the chips are down. Mind you, I’m not going to tell him so.”
But this is significant, too! Vimes is an excellent judge of character, so for him to give this stamp of approval (of sorts) to Moist is a huge deal. Like Vetinari, it’s his way of showing respect for what Moist has done. And what has Moist done? I think Raising Steam does a fine job of demonstrating how people like Dick Simnel, a tinkerer, brought an idea forth into the world. It showed us how important Harry King’s support was to the growth of the railway. We’ve seen Pratchett address fair and culturally sensitive work ethics and practices. We know the beauty of the railway and the danger present in steam. And through it all, Moist has been there, greasing the wheels and selling the idea of public transportation to people who may have given up on it. Or stopped it from happening! That’s what he did before, but that was with the aim of scamming and exploiting others. He sold them promises he never intended to fulfill.
He’s very much the opposite now, isn’t he?
As a whole, I found the ending to Raising Steam to be very quiet, especially in comparison to other Discworld novels. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s an interesting choice when this book dealt with such a HUGE thing. Trains! Coming to the Disc! But while this altered the world in a dramatic way, did it alter these people? I don’t know. I think that’s an interesting thing for discussion. I think Dick Simnel’s life is completely different. Harry King seems richer, but his wife got the fancy life away from garbage that she wanted. I wouldn’t say that Vetinari changed much; he kind of has to stay a static character. Moist’s arc has been over three books, so while he may not have changed a whole lot in Raising Steam, it’s a trip to think of where he was in the beginning of Making Money. On paper, I should not have liked him, but he’s grown so much on me over the course of his story. There’s truly no one like him in the Discworld series. At all! So if this really is it, I’m glad he ends at a happy place. That feels… nice. Comforting.
And with that… holy shit, y’all. Wednesday, the first review for the last book in this series goes up. That is a LOT to think about it. I’m still in denial about it. See y’all soon for the start of The Shepherd’s Crown!
Mark Links Stuff
– You can now pre-order my second YA novel, Each of Us a Desert, which will be released on September 15, 2020 from Tor Teen!
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