Monstrous Regiment --why don't I love it?

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Monstrous Regiment --why don't I love it?

Postby Trish » Wed May 06, 2009 12:05 am

Ok, ok, I can be dense. As a plank, very often.

But this is my 2d time through MR and I can't seem to make myself want to read it.
I've been at this book for 2 days and am not 100 pages in. Usually, I'd've finished it yesterday.

Somebody 'splain, please.

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Postby Tonyblack » Wed May 06, 2009 12:37 am

I was underwhelmed the first time I read it too - but subsequent readings have made it one of my favourites. :)

I think that part of the problem with it on the first read is that the reader gets distracted by the whole "is he/isn't he" side of it. Once you get past this you can really get to the story and the actual story is an excellently written anti-war book.

The whole thing about women fighting as men isn't as far fetched as it may seem. There have been literally hundreds of known and documented cases of this happening - the characters in the book pretty much cover the reasons that women have done so.

But there is a strong theme about religious intolerance to the point that a country is crippled by it. It's not hard to find examples of this in our own world.

Maybe this isn't one of the most funny of the books, but it is one of the most thoughtful. Terry's books often have a much deeper meaning than just being funny - he addresses issues about the way humans treat each other and uses Discworld to do so. :wink:

You might want to check out Magdalene Asylum to see the sort of place that a few of the girls escaped from. I'm sure that Terry had this in mind when he named one of the girls "Magda".

But also look at the reason A-M has got involved in this unimportant war that has been going on for years. Think of the Clacks system as being (perhaps) like an oil pipeline that happens to have fallen into a war zone and you can see certain parallels with our own world straight away.

Like I say - not the funniest of the books, but I'd put it up there with Small Gods for excellent satire. :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed May 06, 2009 12:45 am

Here are some examples of women disguising themselves as men to fight. I got these from a fairly quick search of the Internet. It's anyone's guess how many disguised women were never found out:

Zoya Smirnow was a survivor of a corp of twelve Russian girls (some as young as fourteen) who disguised themselves as boys to join the army. They fought in Galacia and the Carpathians. WW1

Collette Nirouet disguised herself as a man and joined the French army to fight in World War II. She was posthumously awarded the Croix de Guerre.

In 1807 Elizabeth Bowden disguised herself as a boy and joined the British Navy, calling herself John Bowden. After being discovered to be female she remained on board as an attendant.

A report in the Naval Chronicle in 1807 describes a woman using the name of Tom Bowling who had served over 20 years as a bowswain's mate on a man-of-war.

Lucy Brewer served as a marine aboard the USS Constitution under the name George Baker from 1812 to 1814.

Dr "James" Barry did a degree at Edinburgh Medical School. She joined the British Army in 1813 and became the Surgeon General. Her gender was discovered after her death. in 1865.

Eliza Allen fought in the Mexican War of 1846-1848 disguised as a man.

Cathay Williams joined the Thirty-Eighth United States Infantry, Company A, on November 15, 1866, in St. Louis, Missouri under the name William Cathay.

Anna Henryka Pustowojtowna enlisted in the Polish army in the 1860s using the name Michal Smok.

During the American Civil War (1861-5) Sarah Emma Edmonds enlisted under the name Franklin Thompson and Jennie Hodgers fought for three years under the name Albert Cashier and even retired to a Soldiers' Home where her gender was eventually discovered in 1913.

Loreta Janeta Velazquez fought in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War using the name Lieutenant Harry T. Buford.

It is estimated that 750 women disguised themselves as men and fought in the American Civil War.

Mary Owens served for eighteen months using the name John Evans.

Satronia Smith Hunt enlisted in an Iowa regiment with her first husband.

Mary Stevens Jenkins enlisted in a Pennsylvania regiment and remained in the army for two years.

John Williams of the Seventeenth Missouri Infantry was discharged from the army on the grounds: "proved to be a woman."

Mrs. S. M. Blaylock spent two weeks with the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Infantry, Company F before being discovered.

Mary Scaberry, alias Charles Freeman served in the Fifty-second Ohio Infantry and was discharged from Union service after her gender was discovered while she was being treated in hospital for a fever.

A teamster and a private in a Union cavalry regiment got drunk and fell into a river. The soldiers who rescued the pair found out that they were women in the process of resuscitating them.

Mary Galloway was wounded in the chest during the Battle of Antietam

A woman wearing the uniform of a Confederate private was found dead on the Gettysburg battlefield on July 17, 1863

Frances Hook, alias Frank Miller was discovered after she was wounded and captured by the Confederates.

Madame Collier and Florina Budwin were also prisoners of war.

Hannah Snell dressed as a man and called herself James Gray. She served in a regiment of the Royal Marines and fought at the siege of Pondicherry. In 1750 she revealed her secret to her comrades and was granted a lifetime pension. She died in 1791.

From January to May 1757 a woman, described as being about 5' tall and aged 19 served on board the ship "Resolution" under the name of Arthur Douglas.

Hannah Whitney served for five years as a marine. She revealed that she was a woman in 1761 after she had been locked in a cell and became claustrophobic.

Mary Lacy served as a carpenter and shipwright on board navy vessels from 1759 to 1771 under the name of William Chandler.

The Captains log for the 32 gun ship Amazon records that on 20th April 1761 "One of the marines going by the name of William Prothero was discovered to be a woman. She had done her duty on board nine months."

Deborah Sampson Gannett (or Samson) disguised herself as a man and fought in the American Revolution.

In 1771 Naval seaman Charles Waddall was found to be a woman when she was being stripped for a flogging.

In 1781 Naval seaman Margaret Thompson revealed that she was female after she had been sentenced to be flogged. She used the name George Thompson.

In 1782 there was a report of a Mrs Coles who had served on several men-of-war as a sailor.

Angelique Brulon - awarded the French Legion of Honor. She defended Corsica in seven campaigns between 1792 and 1799. At first she fought disguised as a man, by the time her gender was discovered she had proved so valuable in battle that she was allowed to remain in the military fighting openly as a woman.

In 1779 a volunteer for the 81st Highland Regiment picked up at Drumblade, Scotland turned out to be a woman.

Margaret Catchpole (1762-1869) was discovered disguised as a sailor on a British warship in 1797.

Mary Anne Talbot (1778-1808) used the name John Taylor and served in both the army and the Navy. She was wounded in battle in 1794.
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed May 06, 2009 12:49 am

I happen to know that the US version of the book doesn't contain the newspaper cartoon mentioned in the book - so here it is. :wink:

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Postby Jason » Wed May 06, 2009 6:08 am

Don't worry Trish you are not alone. I really didn't enjoy the book that much. To me it appears to be a three hundred page joke with a punchline that you can see three quarters of the way through.

It's still entertaining just not Terry's best.
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Postby Dotsie » Wed May 06, 2009 9:35 am

Well I really liked it for all the reasons in Tony's first message. But I really didn't get on with Moving Pictures, & I've never known why :?
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Postby Tiffany » Wed May 06, 2009 10:29 am

I like it too, it's one of my favourites, but I don't like Pyramids at all.
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Postby Who's Wee Dug » Wed May 06, 2009 10:38 am

It was Ok, but Small Gods did not do anything for me. There is not a book I dislike just some are a lot better than others, Tiffany I liked Pyramids a matter of taste I suppose it would be a bit boring if we all liked the same and the forum would have a lot less posts. :)
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Postby » Wed May 06, 2009 4:26 pm

i liked mr and all the discworld books are very rereadable thats why mine are all a bit abused :lol:
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Postby Tiffany » Wed May 06, 2009 9:28 pm

Who's Wee Dug wrote:It was Ok, but Small Gods did not do anything for me. There is not a book I dislike just some are a lot better than others, Tiffany I liked Pyramids a matter of taste I suppose it would be a bit boring if we all liked the same and the forum would have a lot less posts. :)

Small Gods did nothing for me either, Wee Dug, so we agree there. :D
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Postby swreader » Wed May 06, 2009 10:56 pm

Tony and I both like Monstrous Regiment a lot--I think because while it has it's problems (don't think Maladict really works), and it certainly requires at least two, preferably 3 readings before you begin to appreciate the different levels. Otherwise, as Jason said--it's a one joke novel. But I think it's one of his better books, along with Small Gods, and the others in which he explores more serious ideas.

But as Who's Wee Dug said, if we all liked the same books, there'd be a lot less posts on this board. And one of the things I really enjoy about this board is that people here really like to read Terry's books and talk about them--not at all true on some boards.
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Postby Trish » Thu May 07, 2009 11:38 am

Here's a thought.
If Pratchett were not categorized as a science-fiction writer, a genre largely dismissed, then his works' satire might be regarded as Abomination.

Pratchett writes about things that most of us can't properly articulate.
What is the difference between a god and the mechanism of religion?

Why do we choose to believe what an authority says? Is it because it's a reliable authority or is it habit? Or maybe it's just easier than thinking for ourselves?

Power and its nature. Is it over people, events, one's own circumstances?
Or is power a lying, no-good, snake-oil salesman? Y'know --one drop and you'll never be able to give it up.

And ego, he goes on a lot about ego.
Everybody's got one (except Altogether Andrews), so how is it we manage to fool our brains into thinking that vanity and ego are the same?
And if we're really messed up and /or insecure, we substitute arrogance for ego and still can't believe in ourselves?

War, the cost of. Casualties, collateral damage, acceptable amounts of collateral damage, military spending (not on food or boots, duh).
Enemies and how come they are "our" enemies. Maybe we are their enemies and we're just too self-important to understand that?

Small business is God. oh, boy...
Thieves' and Beggars' Guilds show the absolute truth that eveyone needs someone else to look down upon. Or blame for the disruption of their bottom line.
Merchants' and Assassins' Guilds, seem to me anyhow, to be the AM equivalent to hedge funds and investment bankers. They are each other's best clients, a sort of incestuous and deadly, if profitable relationship.

What do all of those jokes scream to us about the nature of the society we live in?
And perpetuate?

NONE of Pratchett's books are one-joke novels.

If you read, really read, what's there, if you can look at this-or-that part of the /any story and not find a least half a dozen parallels to our own society (and all the "great" societies before; Rome, Greece, Egypt, Persia, China, early Western Europe), then you're blind or standing behind a door.
(I can say that because I wear bi-focals and am often mentally the door.)

Oh, yes, MR. Women-as-soldiers, yes. Fascinating and not unusual.
Most of the high school students I sub for seem to find it new & titillating. But it holds their attention, sometimes long enough for them to read an entire chapter.

What the kids miss is the role reversal of the women. Females who are not expected to "behave like women" are likely to do whatever they want. (Yeah, yeah, we have equality now. Right.) But there's a cost.

I'm not sure where this is going or has gone.
But it was fun typing it.


ps: Magic-as-radiation. Duh.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu May 07, 2009 8:57 pm

*waits for poohbcarrot to start yelling about having his head done in* :twisted:

Trish - yes, yes and yes. :D

Most people don't 'get' the difference between sci-fi and fantasy and let's face it the lines are sometimes very blurred indeed. It's like (bear with me please! :P ) Star Wars could be argued as being fantasy (the 'classic' ones anyway) as they very much had an ethical appeal and patently weren't all about flying saucers and ray guns and more to do knights and distressed damsels - well yeah GL rubbed our noses in that one of course - :roll: or even cowboys and indians with bounty hunters (the Mos Eisly saloon/cantina) etc

It's all in the perception and I think every one of us on here 'gets' Terry's fantasies and how they go beyond humour and satire and are in some respects almost like parables - and here I'm specifically thinking of Small Gods and Jingo and MR - but it goes for all the others too of course in different respects. They do have a 'message' and the carrier is undoubtly humour, but that doesn't detract from the fact Pterry generally has a serious message in amongst the jokes, puns, cariacatures and lampoons.

But they're also rattling good yarns too and that's why authors like Terry are perhaps not credited too much with being 'proper' or serious authors simply because they're so entertaining. Same with JK Rowling to some extent, although I don't seek to put her into the same category as Terry. :shock: Her writing is far more 'successful' as in commercial, but like Terry she's never going to win a great serious and major prize for literature even though (or more probably because) their work is broadly read and so influential and, in these vacuous yet 'media-sophisticated' times, anything that has the potential to encourage people to examine their own lives and motivations has to be good - if you 'get' the message in the first place of course. :wink:

As a legacy I think most authors would prefer a lot of people to actually want to read their books for pleasure pure and simple - how many people have read Satre or Solzhenitsyn because they actually wanted to as opposed to treking through it as part of their college course... :?

And yes before anyone says it I know there's no real comparison except - philosophically. And what better place to pontificate (in a pragmatic and reasonably transparent manner) and play with impossible concepts than on an impossible world! :twisted:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Thu May 07, 2009 10:06 pm

I have to admit that I liked this book a lot. The juxtaposition of the Sarge and the Boys. Though one of my favorite spots was when Vimes sent Bugsy Swires to deliver a package of coffee beans directly to Maladicta's mouth right at the perfect moment.

I enjoyed Vimes interference by mimimizing the bloodshed.

Add that to the fact that the Captain of the regiment insisted that he was the only one who could pull off Acting as a washerwoman because he and his schoolmates used to have to do it in school plays. I adored his cluelessness.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby Trish » Sun May 10, 2009 11:26 am

I typed this well-phrased, excellently thought-out reply and my computer froze. iMacs aren't supposed to do that.
But, as my son points out, I can break anything electronic and frequently do.

Vimes the Butcher ..same fellow as "30 men and a dog" in 5th Elephant's Vilinus Pass bit. A reputation like that can save a lot of trouble; people expect Vimes to behave violently, so they cooperate.

I like Vimes. Can you tell?

Anyhow, I finished MR then read it again.
I'll give it a week+ to digest and have another go.
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