I think Moist von Lipwig might be my favorite character in Discworld. At least for right now. He’s an entrepreneur, and that’s the world I’m in at this point of my life.
So I was thrilled to find Moist von Lipwig was a prominent character in Raising Steam. But reading this book makes me very sad because it’s not up to the standard of Pratchett’s usual writing style. It was published in 2013, so I’m assuming Pratchett wrote it while he was suffering from Alzheimer’s, and maybe he didn’t have the time to do one more editorial pass-through. It reads like a draft. The story structure is not as tight as his earlier books- especially Going Postal. In his earlier books, there’s foreshadowing and a fleshing out of the villains, and that’s lacking in this book.
On the other hand, I think this story reveals more about the relationship between Moist and Adora Belle because of the incomplete structure. I get the sense that we are able to peek into their private conversations and if Pratchett had done another editing round, he would have determined those moments too intimate for us voyeurs. The flirtation between Moist and Adora Belle is what made Going Postal seem like a very new story in a very established world. I can’t think of another moment where Pratchett actually allows the reader into the head of a character at that point in the relationship. The couplings of Magrat and Verence and Vimes and Sybil are presented from a distance, a mechanical series of events. Pratchett doesn’t give us a lot of their emotional progress.
In Raising Steam, we get a very intimate view of the dynamic between Adora Bell and Moist:
“Adora Belle still had her faint smile. “Well now, my dear, didn’t you once say that a life without danger is a life not worth living?”
Moist patted her hand and said, “Well, Spike, I married you, didn’t I?”
“You couldn’t resist it, could you? It’s like a drug. You’re not happy unless someone is trying to kill you, or you’re in the center of some other kind of drama, out of which, of course, the famous Moist von Lipwig will jump to safety at the very last moment. Is it a disease? Some kind of syndrome?”
Moist put on his meek face as only husbands and puppies can do and said, “Would you like me to stop? I will if you say so.”
There was silence until Adora Belle said, “You bastard, you know I can’t do that. If you stopped all of that you wouldn’t be Moist von Lipwig!”
The Moist that Adora Belle describes is the one that is hidden in this book. In Going Postal and Making Money, we were able to tag along with Moist’s adrenaline rushes, and we don’t get that experience here. Still, I am enjoying the peek into Pratchett’s writing process. I love observing a master at work.