Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1728
Before J. K. Rowling introduced the enormously successful Harry Potter series, Terry Pratchett was the best-selling author in the United Kingdom and is best known for his Discworld fantasy series. There have been more than thirty books in the series since the first novel, The Colour of Magic , was...
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Before J. K. Rowling introduced the enormously successful Harry Potter series, Terry Pratchett was the best-selling author in the United Kingdom and is best known for his Discworld fantasy series. There have been more than thirty books in the series since the first novel, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. The authors parodied in the various books include J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, William Shakespeare, Ayn Rand, and many others. Making Money is the second novel in the series to feature Moist von Lipwig, introduced in Going Postal (2004), and there is a hint at the end of Making Money that he will return in a future book. Normally, each of the Discworld books stands on its own and can be read in any order. However, in this case, readers would be better served if they read Going Postal first. Going Postal and Making Money are also atypical Discworld books in that they are divided into chapters.
Discworld is a satirical fantasy universe in which the world is flat and disk-shaped. It is balanced on the backs of four gigantic elephants who themselves stand on the back of an even more gigantic turtle, Great A’Tuin, who swims through space. In this universe, magic works, and there are magical creatures such as golems, werewolves, trolls, and vampires. In Making Money, a group of wizards, called the Department of Postmortem Communications at the Unseen University, summon the ghost of Professor Flead, a wizard who has been dead for three hundred years. This ghost takes a lecherous interest in von Lipwig’s girlfriend and likes to haunt the Pink Pussycat Club, Ankh-Morpork’s leading exotic-dancing club, where he occupies seat number seven in the center of the front row.
Golems, creatures created from clay, play a particularly important role in both Going Postal and Making Money. On Discworld, they are traditionally slaves who do not require food, drink, sleep, sex, or vacations. They cannot die of natural causes and are extremely difficult to kill. Anghammarad, a golem in Going Postal, for example, is 19,000 years old. Although there is a strong golems’ rights movement to grant them freedom and equality, they still compete with humans for jobs at the low end of the pay scale, if only to raise the money to buy other golems their freedom. In Going Postal, the most prominent golem is Mr. Pump, who received his name after tending a water pump one hundred feet underground for twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for 240 years without a break. His only job is to be von Lipwig’s parole officer. Adora Belle Dearheart (nicknamed “Spike”), von Lipwig’s girlfriend, works for the Golem Trust, a charity that finds golems, sets them free, and ensures that they have decent working conditions. She makes sure that Mr. Pump and the other golems get at least one day off each week, even if they do not know what to do with their leisure time.
In Making Money, the most prominent golem is Gladys, first introduced in Going Postal. In the earlier novel, Miss Maccalariat, the senior female post office employee, insisted that only a female golem be allowed to clean the ladies’ restroom. (Miss Maccalariat also objects to hiring female dwarfs, because their beards make them impossible to distinguish from the male dwarfs, who might then sneak into the restroom for a peak at half-dressed human females.) The problem with determining golem gender is that golems do not have any sex organs; they are neither male nor female. Traditionally, they are referred to as male. Von Lipwig, as head of the post office, addresses the problem by selecting a seven-foot-tall golem, renaming it Gladys, and having it wear a dress. By Making Money, Gladys has acquired female gender by reading publications such as Ladies’ Own Magazine, studying women’s fashions, learning to cook, and listening to the conversations that women have among themselves. She also acts as a mother figure to von Lipwig, making sure that he eats regularly and gets enough sleep. However, her one attempt at giving von Lipwig a backrub almost kills him, because she does not know her own strength.
Making Money is one of the many Discworld books set primarily in Ankh-Morpork, a city-state known for its pollution and corruption and the largest on Discworld. Pratchett patterned it after Tallinn and Prague, with elements of eighteenth century London, nineteenth century Seattle, and twentieth century New York City. Its nickname is the “Big Wahoonie.” It is also home to the Unseen University, where wizards learn magic.
The Machiavellian ruler of Ankh-Morpork is Lord Havelock Vetinari, called the Patrician. He is a tyrant in the sense that there are no laws to restrain him. His only restraint is his own intelligence, which tells him that instead of ordering people around, it is better in the long run to persuade them that they really want what he wants. An example is von Lipwig in both Going Postal and Making Money. In the first book, Vetinari makes him an offer he cannot refuse, a choice between death by hanging and becoming postmaster general of Ankh-Morpork. (Capital punishment for relatively minor offenses such as swindling is normal for Ankh-Morpork.) Vetinari felt that von Lipwig’s experience as a con artist was good preparation for becoming a government official. Although von Lipwig tries to find a third alternative, he is eventually convinced that he will live at least a little longer if he becomes postmaster. He is successful in introducing the concept of postage, thereby spawning the hobby of stamp collecting and reinstituting the practice of actually delivering the mail to the people to whom it is addressed. As a sign of his office, he wears a golden suit, which also has significance at the end of Making Money.
At the beginning of the latest novel, von Lipwig is still the postmaster of Ankh-Morpork, but his success has left him bored with his life. Before the events in Going Postal, he was a swindlera thrilling livelihood, since the smallest mistake could cost him his life. Through the manipulations of Vetinari, von Lipwig now becomes Master of the Royal Mint and the effective head of the Royal Bank. The mint is in especially bad shape because it costs more than a penny to manufacture one. Von Lipwig revolutionizes the economy by introducing the concept of paper money, for which he has to set up a printing and engraving operation in the bank. One challenge is that the city’s best artist is on death row for counterfeiting stamps, so von Lipwig arranges for his escape and hides him in the bank. One of von Lipwig’s opponents is Mavolio Bent, the bank’s chief cashier, who believes that only gold is real money. Bent lives in a modest room in a boarding house, dislikes the theater, poetry, music, or any other art, and has no sense of humor or social life. Some of his subordinates at the bank suspect him of being a vampire, but he has a secret that he considers to be even more shameful.
Near the beginning of the book, Topsy Turvy Lavish, matriarch of the Lavish banking family, is visited by Death, a recurring character in the series who takes people’s souls to the afterlife. In her will, she leaves a controlling interest in the Royal Bank to her dog, Mr. Fusspot, the smallest and ugliest dog Lipwig has ever seen. Her will also makes von Lipwig the dog’s guardian. Von Lipwig has two incentives to accept the post. First, there is an annual fee, and von Lipwig has no aversion to taking money. Second, Ms. Lavish placed a deposit with the Assassins’ Guild for them to kill von Lipwig if Mr. Fusspot dies of unnatural causes.
Cosmo and Pucci Lavish, Topsy’s nephew and niece, respectively, both live lavish lifestyles and were the reason Topsy always kept two loaded crossbows on her desk. They are to inherit Mr. Fusspot’s share of the bank if the dog dies and would not grieve were von Lipwig to meet an untimely death. Cosmo also has ambitions to replace Lord Vetinari as the city tyrant.
Von Lipwig causes some trouble for himself when he accepts the bank’s valuation of its gold reserve on face value, and the authorities discover that there is much less gold in the vault than there is supposed to be. Another problem arises with the appearance of Cribbins, a man who knew von Lipwig ten years ago when he went by the alias of Albert Spangler. Masquerading as a priest of Om, Cribbins intends to blackmail von Lipwig, as he needs money to replace his malfunctioning set of false teeth.
Pratchett satirizes economists by introducing the Glooper, a mechanical model of the Ankh-Morpork economy that is so accurate that it causes economic change. Pratchett based it on the Phillips Economic Computer, built in 1949 and based on hydraulics. The Glooper is tended by Hubert Turvy, who is portrayed as a mad scientist, and his assistant, Igor. Igors, creatures made from dead people’s body parts, are recurring characters in the series. They are all named Igor, talk in lisps, limp, and sneak up behind people. They also tend to get nervous if their masters display any signs of sanity or rationality.
One of Pratchett’s techniques is to provide background information on the world by means of footnotes. In this novel, he uses them to explain a tabloid, the Blind Letter Office, dwarfs, a fee, assassin clothing, the kind of people who employ Igors, a food called minced collops, an offense called “wasting watch time,” lawyers, guarding, the advantage of committees over the iron maiden, crossword puzzles, and costs.
Pratchett writes in the tradition of Jonathan Swift, P. G. Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh, and other British satirists. In this book, he satirizes modern concepts of money and banking. The series is also in the tradition of nineteenth century English novels such as those by Anthony Trollope, with their detailed descriptions of urban landscapes. However, this novel does not have the narrative drive of other books in the series. Furthermore, there is very little character development. Except for Gladys, all the major characters are essentially the same people at the end of the book as they were at the beginning.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 26
Booklist 103, no. 22 (August 1, 2007): 9.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 15 (August 1, 2007): 749.
Library Journal 132, no. 17 (October 15, 2007): 60.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 32 (August 13, 2007): 43.
USA Today, November 8, 2007, p. D5.
The Washington Post, September 20, 2007, p. C5.