5 out of 5 stars

Dick Simnel is an engineer of some talent and with the help of his slide rule, he has developed the Discworld’s first steam locomotive, a machine that has somehow harnessed the power of all of the elements: earth, air, fire and water. It is called the Iron Girder. No one is really sure what to make of it, but when he brings it to Ankh-Morpork it piques the interest of Sir Harry King, a businessman who has made his money from the unsavoury business of waste.

Lord Vetinari, The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, is also very interested in this device and he asks, well demands, that Moist von Lipwig, the renowned fraudster and civil servant to be his representative and the inside man inside this new industry. He is going to have his work cut out dealing with the great and the good as he persuades them to let the new railway lines over their land, but he has a deep and dodgy skill set to draw upon…

Not everyone is happy with the new railways though, some railway workers have been attacked and killed by Dwarfish fundamentalists and their terrorist attacks are getting worse. The Low King of the Dwarves is away at Quirm when there is a coup at the palace in Schmaltzberg, Überwald. Vetinari demands that the Low King is returned home to ensure political stability in the region, but even though Moist points out that the line is not complete, he is given no option to fail.

It is going to be a difficult journey, as not only are they somehow going to have to make it to Schmaltzberg, Überwald with the Low King on board, but they know they will be under attack from the rebel dwarves at some point and how they are going to get across the bridge is an audacious stunt that only Moist can pull off.

Another magnificent book from Pratchett, though you can sense cracks at the edge of the plot as the Embuggerance’s cold black fingers creep across his mind. He has purloined the plot from events in the UK when we went railway mad in the 18th century and draped it onto Discworld, where that places uneven lumps and bumps have shaped the story in his own unique way. There are lots of laugh out loud moments, as well as his own unique perspective on real-life that he sees through the prism of Discworld. Great stuff and one more to go…

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