Released on November 7th, 2013. The fortieth Discworld novel (following Snuff), and the third in the Moist von Lipwig sequence (following Making Money).From the Amazon blurb:To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. This being Ankh-Morpork, it's soon drawing astonished crowds, some of whom caught the zeitgeist early and arrive armed with notepads and very sensible rainwear.Moist von Lipwig is not a man who enjoys hard work - as master of the Post Office, the Mint and the Royal Bank his input is, of course, vital . . . but largely dependent on words, which are fortunately not very heavy and don't always need greasing. However, he does enjoy being alive, which makes a new job offer from Vetinari hard to refuse . . .Steam is rising over Discworld, driven by Mister Simnel, the man wi' t'flat cap and sliding rule who has an interesting arrangement with the sine and cosine. Moist will have to grapple with gallons of grease, goblins, a fat controller with a history of throwing employees down the stairs and some very angry dwarfs if he's going to stop it all going off the rails . . .
A Day in the Limelight: Harry King, who's been a minor character in several books, is one of the main characters in this one. Rufus Drumknott is also unusually present, and in fact receives the most physical description he's ever gotten.
Aborted Arc: Apparently what's happened to the original plot for this book involving Moist taking over the Ankh-Morpork Tax Office, which was heavily foreshadowed by the end of Making Money and the original working title of this book (see below). Also the Undertaking, a massive civic infrastructure upgrade including a subway system which drove the last Moist book, is nowhere mentioned.
Answers to the Name of God: When the Marquis de Aix-Et-Pains first meets Of The Twilight The Darkness, he exclaims "Mon Dieu!", to which Of The Twilight The Darkness calmly replies "Not a god, Mister Mark-kee, just a goblin". (Which in context has a definite undercurrent of "And yes, I can speak Quirmian".)
Author Appeal: The descriptions make clear how much Terry Pratchett loves trains (he describes his research visits in the cover sleeve biography). Indeed most of the book is devoted simply to describing how the Discworld train service developed and wonder it inspired, with the central drama not setting in until two-thirds of the way through.
Automaton Horses: Played with. Moist is granted the use of a rare and valuable golem horse — a quite literal automaton — but the lack of "all those fussing little rituals that defined horsemanship" rather unnerves him. He feels that having a mount that can travel faster than any living animal without ever tiring or needing food or water, and which just stands there dutifully when not in use, is getting something for nothing; that all that power should come at some kind of price. What makes it even weirder for him is that like all golems, the horse is entirely sentient, but still doesn't mind its lot — when he tells it to go frolic in a field when he's not using it, it takes this as an order.
Awesomeness Induced Amnesia: Moist von Lipwig kills several grags (Dwarven terrorists) in a blind rage after finding out that they'd killed some of the railway workers. Afterwards, he has no memory of doing it.
Badass Bystander: Several terrorist attacks are thwarted by civilians, most of them using improvised weapons, attacking the supposedly elite Delvers and winning.
The Berserker: Moist, up until now an Actual Pacifist, turns out to be one when he's finally forced into combat. A Goblin potion got him started, but in his rage he kills three battle hardened Dwarf assassins and blacks out entirely afterwards. In later battles he relies on Confusion Fu and his greater knowledge of the train.
Berserk Button: Goblins consider their names to be a part of themselves, so calling one by a nickname or part of their full name is like slapping them in the face. Though younger goblins aren't that fussed about it, and one—a goblin special Watchman—allows a nickname on the logic that if they're in a fight, his human partner will want something shorter to shout.
Brain Bleach: Moist requires some after accidentally considering the possibility that goblin women have breast milk.
The Bus Came Back: Several characters unseen or unmentioned for quite a while make a return, even if in a cameo. Among them, Death, who had appeared in every book except the previous two.
A couple of locations that had been featured or mentioned in passing in previous books (Cori Celesti, The Paps of Scilla, the Forest of Skund, etc.) turn up here
Busman's Holiday: At the end Vimes cites this as a reason not to go on another family vacation. His wife just thinks the inevitable crime will keep him entertained.
Call Back: Vimes scares some dwarfs into telling everything they know by simply showing the mark of the Summoning Dark on his arm.
Calling Your Attacks: A rather Justified example, when Detritus shouts "PIECEMAKER!" when firing the Piecemaker. People need to know when he does that so they can get out of the way.
The Cameo: Many characters appear in asides and references. The University Wizards and Lu-Tze both get mini-chapters that don't really serve the plot and are only there for additional flavour.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Kitten Punishment. The offender is locked in an iron maiden with as many kittens as can comfortably fit in there. If any of the kittens sound upset, the iron maiden is opened long enough for the offender to be hit over the head with a club.
Confusion Fu: On the rare instances Moist is called on to fight he finds chaotic approaches seem to work, on the basis if he doesn't know what he will do next his opponent won't either.
Continuity Drift: In Going Postal, Adora Belle displays no particular knowledge or interest in how the Clacks work (at least when she's around POV character Moist.) Now she's an enthusiast who has been up in the towers since infancy. Oddly, the scene which creates this drift is completely extraneous to the plot.
Continuity Nod: This book is the uncontested champion for "most continuity nods in one Discworld book".
The inventor of the steam engine is Dick Simnel, son of Ned Simnel, who notably failed to invent a steam engine in Reaper Man.
Dick mentions an Ephebian steam engine which blew up. This event was shown in Small Gods.
There's also a brief mention of the Nugganites smashing clacks towers.
The wizards of Unseen University go for a ride on Iron Girder, in part to declare her nonmagical. Rincewind is also mentioned, in a footnote.
Lu-tze makes a cameo appearance, paying a brief visit to his old friend Ridcully to talk about the dawning of the new age. Ridcully also actually mentions deja-fu, the martial art practiced by Lu-tze in Thief of Time.
The King of Lancre writes to request that the rail system be extended to his kingdom. Characters present note that Lancre is home to witches — and that one of said witches tend to fly up to the top of the clacks towers to have coffee with the operators. Fans speculate that this is Nanny Ogg — especially since Adora Belle says she's most likely to do it if the operators are young, human and male.
Covers Always Lie: The UK cover, as seen above, is fine, but the US cover shows a quarter-sized train with a unidentifiable assortment of riders being held up by a young goat sitting on the tracks, with grags lurking in the shadows nearby. A goat-herder does make a brief appearance in the novel, but just as a awe-struck witness as the train whizzes by.
Cruel Mercy: Rhys leaves Ardent alive, but only so his fate can be decided by a jury selected from the families of his victims.
Ditzy Genius: Averted with Dick Simnel, who points out that the only reason he's mastered steam, and not been turned into pink mist like his dad, is because he pays very close attention to all the numbers and tests his ideas very thoroughly. And while he's not a businessman, he's clever enough to avoid the business mistakes the Dearhearts did.
He's also no fool when questioned by the press, and frequently sidesteps any "gotcha" questions they try to throw at him
The Dreaded: Vimes, the "legendary Blackboard Monitor", has become this to the grags, in part because of the scar of the Summoning Dark on his wrist.
Dude, Where's My Reward?: Vetinari compensates Moist for his efforts by... allowing him to continue living. Moist is actually okay with this, and after all, he did get to dance on a speeding locomotive, so maybe it was Worth It after all.
There's also a mention of Reg Shoe getting his fingers caught in a train window, leading to the creation of emergency cable to pull to stop the train
Exact Words: Vetinari does this on purpose for the sake of plausible deniability. Of particular note is when he says he'd execute Moist if he found any evidence of Moist using the city's golem reserve
End of an Age / Dawn of an Era: Considering the sheer number of continuity nods and call backs, as well as the wrapping up of several storylines (one spanning over the course of 5+ novels) this could be seen as the end of an era of the medeval disc and the start of the modern disc. On a more somber note It really isn't known how many more novels are in sir Pterry, so this istallment could be seen as his Masterpiece in the series and an end and dawn in the writing of the disc either by sir Pterry or his chosen successors.
Part of the plot involves dwarf extremists attacking dwarf and non-dwarf alike because they aren't "true dwarfs".
Some people still haven't adjusted to goblins being recognized in society. Moist himself included, but he makes an effort to get past this, in part because his wife allows a family of them to live on their roof. He's also helped along by his frequent interactions with Of The Twilight the Darkness, who's essentially a goblin version of himself
Foil: Dick to Leonard of Quirm. While Leonard is likely smarter than Dick by a long shot (Vetinari even mentions Leonard had already figured out how to make a steam engine), Dick is far more focused then Leonard, which lets him develop his ideas far further than Leonard would.
Moist and Vimes, two of Vetinari's most important subordinates (and certainly the ones we know the most about) are foils to each other - Moist is lazy and a champion delegator and Vimes is a workaholic control freak; Vimes is straight as an arrow and Moist is completely bent; Vimes hates titles and honours and Vetinari showers him with them, while Moist would quite like to be rewarded but only ever receives a continued stay of execution.
Moist to Of The Twilight the Darkness, who it is frequently pointed out is essentially a goblin version of Moist
Foot Note Fever: As per usual for Discworld, there are fully eighty-one footnotes.
Foreshadowing: Readers should already have known that Rhys/Blodwen was female, so Mrs Simnel's behaviour towards her was clear foreshadowing to the King later revealing herself to be a Queen. However, the way Mrs Simnel knew (she's not an expert in dwarf gender, but she is an expert in pregnancy) foreshadows The Reveal that Rhys is pregnant.
For Science!: The reason that students at the Cabbage Research Institute worked out a way to launch a cabbage five hundred yards into the air using only it's own juices.
Freudian Trio: We have Moist, Harry King and Mister Simnel taking the three roles
Simnel is the Superego; an engineer who tries to file everything into its proper slot and is entirely out in left field when things don't go that way.
Harry, with his drive towards getting the railway idea off the ground and his gung-ho attitude in defending it, is the Id.
Moist, as the Ego, is the one charged by Vetinari to keep things running smoothly.
Gender Reveal: Readers of previous books might remember that King Rhys Rhysson is actually female, and Moist himself figures it out part way through the book. After the grag extremists are taken care of, she declares her true gender to the assembled dwarfs, and pronounces herself Queen.
In the process, Aeron's gender as a male is also proven, simply by how he steps up to defend his wife and child-to-be.
Genre Savvy: Moist and Dick figure out what's going on with Iron Girder's strange behavior almost immediately.
Groin Attack: Moist does this a couple times (once hoping that the dwarf he's kicking is male) and it's the traditional attack method of goblins.
Happily Married: Moist and Adora, largely because they are both too busy to see each other very often (we are told the key to a happy marriage is seperate bathrooms). They do make the most of their time together, however, especially when the train brings fresh strawberries and goblin potions to set the mood.
Here We Go Again: At the very end of the book, a goblin shows his new invention to Vetinari, a pedal powered, two wheeled vehicle. Vetinari refers him to Mr Thunderbolt to secure a patent.
The Goblins who have shortening or altering their name (like nicknames) as Berserk Button insist calling Moist "Slightly Damp" because it infuriates him.
In Which a Trope Is Described: Averted for the first time in a Moist von Lipwig book, possibly because the real focal point of the book is the railway itself: Moist is just one of many, many people who work to bring it about.
Insistent Terminology: Calling Iron Girder "her" rather than "it" becomes standard practice, for no apparent reason. Turns out to be accurate, as she received so much attention from Dick in particular and society in general that she became a goddess.
A dwarf and a human fall in love and get married. Except on their wedding day, extremist grags launch an attack on the church, and the Dwarf bride is killed.
Nobby still has his goblin girlfriend, Shine of the Rainbow, from Snuff. People think she's throwing herself away on him.
Dopey Docson, a male dwarf, and Crackle, a female troll, meet up on the trainline around midway through the book and basically run away together, due to dissatisfaction with their former partners and recognizing a kindred spirit in each other.
Adora Belle is as cranky as ever, but is still clearly a very good person deep down.
Harry King comes off as a sleazy businessman, but he passes up the opportunity to swindle Dick Simnel out of the profits from the steam engine, is horrified when he learns that children were almost killed in a train accident, and goes ballistic when the grags kill some of his employees. Moist notes that Harry is always grumbling about how much things cost, but simultaneously puts a significant amount of money into ensuring his employees are well taken care of
King Incognito: In the build up to the book's climax, there is mention of a "legendary" stoker named Blake, who can win a fight against any of the others (which they do in their spare time). He turns out to be Vetinari himself, who left a body double in Ankh-Morpork so that he could help ensure the success of Iron Girder's emergency run to Bonk. He expresses a desire to assume the identity again, as he enjoys the job.
Rhys assumes a few disguises when it becomes necessary to smuggle the Low King back to Schmaltzberg. He later mentions that he attended a Dwarf fashion show in Ankh-Morpork incognito.
Lazy Bum: It's noted that despite being the Postmaster and Vice Chairman of the Bank, Moist doesn't actually do any work. He makes up for it by being incredibly charming, and making an effort to remember each of his employee's names and the names of their families, and this in itself causes everyone to work twice as hard.
Maligned Mixed Marriage: Traditional dwarfs don't much like the idea of a human/dwarf marriage. Although the only traditional dwarf who actually lives in the community it takes place in is even more against extremist dwarfs killing people for it.
Note that the marriage in question could also be allegorical of a same-sex relationship, what with the consensus in the community that it doesn't matter if they can't have children since they love each other and can always adopt.
Men Are Uncultured: Discussed by Harry King as he and his wife move up Ankh-Morpork's social circles. He hates it.
"Got another bloody civic thing on tonight, Effie just thrives on them. I told her I'm busy, what with dealing with the railway, but she's determined to make a better man of me. And all this business about what knife and fork you eat from, it's a deliberate puzzle set out to make a simple bloke like me feel like a stranger."
Motor Mouth: Mr Thunderbolt, to an extent. He speaks paragraphs at a time, but he is also so clear and eloquent that nobody is willing to interrupt him, and there are no questions to ask him when he's done talking.
Mugging the Monster: A very common Discworld trope is taken, perhaps, to its ultimate height, as bandits unwisely attempt to rob Lord Vetinari's coach.
It's actually lampshaded by Vetinari. Drumknott points out that it was a very dark night and since Vetinari's crest, prominently displayed on the side of the coach, is black on black, they can be forgiven for thinking it was just some random coach.
Later on two unfortunate bands of grags attack two decoy coaches that they think are carrying King Rhys Rhysson. One contains a whole bunch of Harry King's toughs the other contains Cheery Littlebottom and several well-armed dwarf Watch officers. Both groups regret it almost immediately
My God, What Have I Done?: After Moist points out what would have happened if her plan went awry, the little girl who blocked the train tracks with debris wets herself with horror. Moist also takes a moment to tell her that her creativity would serve her much better writing penny dreadfuls, and smooths things over with her father.
Nay-Theist: Simnel professes to not believe in magic, but follows up by wondering whether magic believes in Iron Girder, subsequent to a saboteurs inexplicable death during an attempt to disable Iron Girder.
One of the obstacles the steam engine and rail system need to overcome is claims of various detrimental effects. Fortunately, most of these claims are ridiculous, and Dick and Harry are a very responsible engineer and businessman respectively, so they are able to put most worries to rest.
Vetinari himself is rather apprehensive of new technology, like in The Truth, because of his past experience. He's come around by the end of the book, though, to the point he gleefully celebrates workshop tinkerers everywhere.
N-Word Privileges: "Lawn-ornament', a slur for Dwarfs so offensive a non-dwarf using it is legally considered a suicide, gets tossed out in a dwarf meeting when a grag insults miners.
Noble Bigot: At the interspecies wedding, one of the guests is a highly traditional dwarf who hates that kind of thing but nevertheless shows up very politely dressed for the ceremony. Luckily for the other more liberal guests, what traditionalist dwarfs consider "politely dressed" is what humans would call "heavily armed".
No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted in the development of the railway. Dick plans everything out and tests everything thoroughly, and prototypes all his new ideas on the Iron Girder first. He even blows up a few boilers and derails a train on purpose just to test what happens.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Dick Simnel admits to being a fairly simple minded person, but anyone that tries to take advantage of this runs into a rather sharper intellect than they might expect. He explains to Harry King at one point that he uses it as a Secret Test of Character: When he meets King, he says that he doesn't know anything about business and will do whatever King says; that King warns him against that and does his best to give him a fair deal is the proof Simnel needs that King's worth dealing with.
Oop North: Dick Simnel has a definite Northern English accent. Whilst the odd word from Geordie, Cumbrian and Yorkshire slang pops up, a skilled ear will detect it's a phonetic representation of a Lancashire accent. One place in particular, actually: Bolton. Repeated uses of the word "Gradely!" even identify a real-life Dick Simnel: steeplejack turned steam engine restorer and TV star Fred Dibnah. "Gradely!" was something of a catchphrase.
Pink Mist: The inevitable end of anyone caught in a boiler explosion. Superheated steam does this to a person.
Playing Drunk: A lot of landowners tried to get Moist drunk while he was negotiating a right-of-way for the railroad through their lands. Moist accepted the drinks, poured them down a rubber hose and bladder arrangement he had hidden under his coat and continued the negotiations perfectly sober, while acting drunk. After returning to Ankh-Morpork, he gave a crate full of hot water bottles filled to the brim with expensive liquors to Harry King to distribute among his workers.
Precision F-Strike: Amusingly averted, the map in the front of the book contains an Effing Forest which leads to some entertaining wood based puns later on.
Pointy-Haired Boss: A small business asks for a way to operate two trains on a single track safely, Simnel's crew provides a token system that prevents the train from going if there's no token. Naturally, someone in middle management thinks to improve on this by putting in another token, which results in a railway accident.
Punny Name: As usual in Discworld, this time we get the Quirmian town of Aix-en-Pains - which means "Water in bread" in archaic French, but can be read by an English-speaking eye as a phonetic variation of "Aches and Pains".
Reasonable Authority Figure: Vimes, as always. He concedes that Moist probably really has put his criminal lifestyle behind him, and commends him for fighting off some dwarf extremists instead of giving him the standard "you should have let the police handle it" routine.
It turns out the golem horses of Um are not mentally any different from other golems. It takes a while for Moist to realize this might be the case, but when he confirms it, he orders his to go roll around in a meadow or something, because he feels he has to give something back to a horse he can't feed. Interestingly, the reason they were assumed not to be sentient is the humanoid golems they were discovered with aren't and can only follow orders.
Iron Girder sometimes behaves in such a way that Moist speculates she might be alive. It turns out, not only has she gained sapience, she has ascended to godhood, due to representing the railway itself in the minds of nearly everyone.
This is a Brick Joke: first dropped on the very first page, but as it is dropped from the outer limits of the Discworld atmosphere, it only impacts near the end, where the insubstantial "nothing" of a rogue idea finds form as Iron Goddess.
To 1970's Australian cop show ''Boney''. Chief Constable Feeney employs a constable from a formerly despised minority group whose full name is a lot longer than "Boney". Compare this to the Alice Springs police force, who employed an Aboriginal copper who solved crimes through native insight and superlative tracking and hunting skills.
When entrepreneurs start making model railways, Sir Harry is delighted to be immortalised as the controller, but his wife complains that the model is too fat.
Stealth Insult: Moist says his soul needs a wash and brush up after dealing with some of Ankh Morpork's land owners. Vetinari's response begins "Ah, soul".
Square Race, Round Class: Discussed. Just because Golems and Trolls are the best at hard labor doesn't mean they're any more inclined to want those jobs than anyone else, and members of every race are establishing themselves in every field. Particularly, a troll hairdresser is mentioned, and a supporting character is Mr. Thunderbolt, a troll lawyer.
Too Dumb to Live: The dim-witted blacksmith Jed, who thinks he can build his own steam engine because he's "smarter than a kettle". It gets himself and his brother killed in a steam explosion, prompting Dick Simnel to start an academy for people wishing to learn how to build steam engines.
Also the lower case "assassins" who early on in the book attempt to ambush the coach of a certain highly skilled upper case Assassin.
Indeed, they could hardly be expected not to spot his black-on-black crest on a dark night.
Took a Level in Badass: Moist engages in willful violence for the first time in this book, and does surprisingly well.
Trainstopping: Constable Bluejohn, a troll even bigger than Detritus, stops the train he's on by reaching out a hand and grabbing the cliffside.
Traintop Battle: Well, this book was hardly going to be written without one. Moist is especially excited about it.
Unobtainium: Sorortanium, whose name means "sister of iron". It happens to be what micromail is made of. The last (seen) incarnation of Iron Girder has an engine made of an alloy with sorortanium in it, allowing it to shrug off thrown boulders.
Turn Out Like His Father: Dick Simnel, whose dad Ned died in a cloud of superheated vapor trying to build a steam engine. His mother begged him not to play with steam, but he's determined to conquer where his father failed, through his knowing of the sine and the cosine, and the sliding rule.
Worth It: After all is said and done, Moist decides that even though he didn't get any compensation, the adventure was worth it because he got to dance on a speeding locomotive.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: The extremist grags routinely abduct non-traditionalist dwarfs, interrogate them for information, then send them on their way with a bag of gold... only to kill them before they leave the room. After all, they're not true dwarfs, so they're the enemy.