Nothing yearns to be something, and small
entrepreneurs are complaining of the distance and travel time between Ankh-Morpork and the
food sources. Enter Dick Simnel, whose father had disappeared in a cloud of pink steam and
shrapnel after a furnace accident, a lad armed wi a flat cap and Iron Girder, a
furnace that moves. On tracks. In Harry King, the waste merchants yard. Theres
also a problem with factionalism among the Dwarfs. Not all are happy with the settlement
Lord Vetinari imposed on them and the Trolls at Kroom Valley.
This is Terrys 40th (and penultimate) Discworld novel. It
is a multithreaded tale, with Dick Simnel, the Goblins, Moist von Lipwig and the Dwarves
all facing various challenges. For those that havent guessed from the title, the
tale is ostensibly about the arrival of rail transport on the Discworld, and the demand is
driven by the wealthy of Ankh-Morpork for fresh produce from their fisheries and market
gardens. So naturally the opportunity for international incidents abound. A competing
thread is the disaffection one faction of Dwarves has for the Kroom Valley settlement.
This has Lord Vetinari concerned. More than Moist von Lipwig is when The Patrician has
charged him with securing the smooth implementation of various rail routes. And we learn
something interesting concerning the Low King of the Dwarfs.
The story seamlessly flips between the various threads as rail travel
comes to the Discworld. To my taste, the story lacked a little focus with so many
competing threads it was difficult to decide which was the primary tale the rail
road, Dick Simnel or the threatening war among the Dwarfs. An enjoyable read, it probably
isnt Terrys best. But then, it isnt his worst either. Good, lightweight