Actually I think the joke with the golem horse not only was a more or less funny joke (in my opinion it's first reply was funny, but later on it wore a little bit off) but also a very good statement: Only because a golem is animalshaped it doesn't mean that it could not be a sentient creature, it is no he, it is no she, it is no horse, no animal, it is a potteried it.
(On the other hand Moist's order to "behave like a horse" shows very well the human nature to think the own POV to be the centre of the universe.)
Apologies again that I until now havn't read the whole thread. Again I just have finished and am eager to express some of my still very fresh impression concerning this book. Further comments later on.
First thought as I first read the title and the theme of the new DW novel: Steam engine? On discworld? In fantasy??
Second thought: But, heck, we have clacks! A system which on roundworld came along years after the people were inventing and experimenting with steam engine and only a few tiny years before the first steamboards actually paddled through the rivers. And after all... we long ago left the mediaval era already, we long ago were further away from a mediaval like time than we were away from our beginning 21th centruy times.
So DW: Go on with Raising Steams!
At a whole I really enjoyed this book, it has it flaws, yes, but nevertheless it was highly enjoyable, it works.
The first half I wondered if this book may have a main character, and although in the second half it focussed more on Moist I still am not really sure if you strictly speaking could call him the
"main character". He rather shows up as a "spokesman", an "ambassador" who paves the ways for the development of rails. Okay, later on, with Vimes on his side, he becomes a fighter and we are mainly with him on his track, so the "main" may be justified.
The way of storytelling for meself is a little bit confusing, but only because of my usually preferences which mostly aren't fullfilled but nevertheless enjoyable and working, in one point even really well fitting to the novel and its theme.
I think I have discovered three different ways of storytelling in this book.
First one is speech. Dialogues. At least until Snuff speech is going on over one whole page or another, this has continued in this book. Somewhere in this forum/thread it is mentioned this may be because of Terry's new working technique (dictating). I wouldn't reject it, it is well possible. And it would be okay, it then simply is a new style we yet aren't too accustomed to but we at last presumbly can get accustomed to, nothing wrong, every time we are reading a new author we have to get accustomed to his style.
Second is the matter of, in wand of a better expression, "how near the reader is set to the scene". There are many little and short scenes where you aren't really near to what is happening, rather summarizing, the development of the train/rail, the actions of the dwarves terrorists and so on. I would call it a rather "puffing" way of storytelling.
It's like seeing, well, a locomotive going on at distance, here a puff behind a hill, the next hill another puff, there a black stroke in the landscape and so on. And even more, you also see a locomotive's puffing going on exactly the opposite direction (the terrorists) and you wonder when they will collide and what will happen then. Therefore it works. Usually I don't like this style very much, but in this case it really works. You have the impression to sit in a train and rush along together with the plot.
And third of course there are the scenes where we are eventually "near the scene", with Moist justified called "main character", the fighting on the train for example.
There a flaws in the story, granted, the scene with Lu-Tze and Ridcully wasn't necessary. I got the impression it only was there to show two another old characters of DW. But it hasn't been needed to tell us that the time is ripe for steam engine... This has been said on at least one occassion before and also at least one after this scene. Should this justify to a reader who may be sceptical about steam engine on a DW (see above) setting that it is really
steam engine time, not only blessed by politicians but also blessed by wizards and history monks?
Another flaw was Vimes behaviour to Moist while there first meeting.
After Moist has fought the dwarves in the maquis' badlands (sorry, couldn't resist
) he behaves as if Moist and he were best buddies ever met. After the fight on the train, yes, okay, then I would buy it, a fight together to forge comradeship, but just because Vimes had heard that Moist had killed some dwarves in a fight? Vimes never before trusted in somebody so helter-skelter, especiall not in such a scoundrel as Moist.
I can overlook it and it doesn't really annoy or drags the novel down but it is a detail which caught my eye.
And at last another detail, not really content of the novel:
The map on the inside of the book case.
I am very happy about this maps. But I think there are some disproportions. Not around AM and the Sto plains, I think, but in the distances in Uberwald and especially with Lancre (Warning: SPOILER for Carpe Jugulum (CJ) ahead).
From the book we know that it took at least one or two days from Zemphis to Bonk/Schmaltzberg - by train!
Now, this is circa the same distance as, referring to the map, between Lancre and Dontgonearthecastle. A distance which a weakened Granny Weatherwax and a she carrying Oaths in CJ never could have managed afoot, let alone in the short time they seemed to have managed in aforesaid book. Or the people of Escrow rushing towards the castle.
This also is a minor detail, but it hadn't had an impact on the story to draw this locations more congruent with previous plots on the map (and on DW you can't excuse is with problems to project the surface of a sphere on a flat map (at the moment I don't know the exact term therefor, but I hope, you know my meaning)).