Kris Longknife: Tenacious by Mike Shepherd
Kris’s long-awaited, already once-interrupted honeymoon is interrupted again as her intelligence officer insists on bringing her news that she may have found the homeworld of the aliens who have been threatening everything and everyone in known space. Kris heads out, hoping to find out what caused these paranoid space wanderers to seek to destroy everyone whose path they cross. What she finds is illuminating, and mostly talk up till the end, when we get a space battle to defend a new, more friendly alien species from the raiders.
Basically, this is more of the same high-quality, character-driven milsf that the series has given us so far. Highly recommended, though as we are now 12 books into the series there is no point in trying to begin reading here. If you haven’t been following along, start with Kris Longknife: Mutineer.
Raising Steam: a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
Brilliant, self-taught engineer Dick Simnel creates the Discworld’s first steam engine. With the investment of Harry King, Ankh-Morpork’s honeywagon baron, and the tacit support of Lord Vetinari (leading directly to the aid of Moist von Lipwg, con-man turned Postmaster and Bank Chairman), Dick builds the Discworld’s first railway, which at first shows signs of merely being economically useful (bringing food to the city before it spoils in the heat and bad roads, for instance). But then the Grags, the closest thing dwarfs have to priests (except that I don’t think dwarfs actually worship anything; Grags seem to be more loremasters and champions of orthodoxy–which latter is the problem) start speaking up against the progress that the rest of the Discworld seems to be embracing; they lead attacks on the clacks towers, to start with, and move on to actual rebellion against the Low King of the dwarfs (dwarfs wouldn’t have a High King, now would they?) while he is away at a summit meeting. Suddenly, the King needs a way to get back home quickly and safely. A railway from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald, where the Low King’s throne (the Scone of Stone) is located, has been started. Can Moist get it finished and get the King back in time?
As an unofficial farewell to the Discworld this works fine (one more book, a Tiffany Aching story, is due). Though it is nominally a Moist von Lipwig story, just about everyone from the Ankh-Morpork end of things shows up (even Rincewind, briefly, twice: once to express his opinion of the railway, and once in a footnote in his job as Professor of Cruel and Unusual Geography), and even Vimes, who is usually . . . not mis-cast, as such, but rather poorly understood when seen in others’ stories . . . gets a major part here and is fully in character.
There was one major plot point that I felt wasn’t explained clearly enough (what, exactly, did those golems do?), but overall I was very pleased with this book. Unlike most fantasy, the Discworld is progressive in its politics and this book continues the trend. Though we may never visit it again, the Disc will go on becoming a better place. I’ll miss Pratchett, but he went out on a positive note and I’m glad he shared this world with us for as long as he did.