Terry Pratchett Book Club: Making Money, Part IV

Of course you are Vetinari. We’re all Vetinari here.


Moist has Gladys press his gold suit, and Cosmo arrives with Vimes in tow to check on the vault and potentially arrest him. A gathering crowd is asking what Moist will do about having no gold. He insists this is not a problem, and Harry King suddenly arrives… to deposit more money into the bank. Cosmo advises the crowd to take their money back, leading Vimes to close the bank and threaten Cosmo for attempting to incite a riot. Adora Belle is brought to the bank because all the city’s golems have stopped moving—the ancient golems are arriving. Hicks and Flead show up with a portable magic circle, explaining that the four golden golems was a mistranslation, and it’s actually four thousand golems. They surround and flood the city, and go silent. There’s a meeting at the palace where everyone argues about how the golems should be used, since they look like a declaration of war, defending the city. Vetinari thinks to use them as a labor force, but Hubert insists they can’t or all the people would lose their jobs and the economy would collapse. Moist goes with Hicks and Flead and convinces the latter to translate Umnian for him while convincing that former to “insorcise” Flead from the department.

Moist gets the golems to follow him out of the city, getting them to bury themselves in a disused stretch of plains beyond. He wants to put their currency on the golem standard, based on the possibility of what they could achieve—were the city to put them to use—and he tells Sacharissa this. (He also thinks that one horse golem should be given to the dwarf king to smooth things over, a half dozen horse golems should go to the Post Office, and a few hundreds should man the clacks towers, while the rest are looked after by the Golem Trust.) Vimes and Vetinari arrive, and the Patrician is pleased with that plan, but he still has Moist and Mr. Fusspot arrested for the gold theft, and insists on a hearing the next day. Cosmo sends Cranberry to kill Mr. Bent. Bent awakes in his room to find Miss Drapes looking after him, and she tells him what has happened at the bank. Moist is brought to the inquiry the next day and is certain he’s about to be hung out to dry. Word comes to the hall that murdered men were found in Bent’s quarters—Cranberry and his associate. Slant begins to question Moist, but he realizes how to get out ahead: He confesses to being a criminal, ruining Cosmo and Cribbins’ plans.

Vetinari corroborates and gives an (only slightly) altered version of the events that landed Moist his job at the Post Office, confessing that Topsy Lavish asked for his help finding a member outside the family to run the bank. Mr. Bent arrives in full clown regalia and hits the Lavish family with custard pies; Moist catches the one meant for Vetinari to protect him. Miss Drapes comes in behind Bent with his ledgers—ledgers that show that the Lavishes are the ones who spent all the gold and forced him to hide it in their books all these years. Cosmo begins to unravel and draws his replica Vetinari sword. Moist tries to talk him down and addresses him as Patrician. He takes the man’s putrid glove off and beckons “Vetinari” outside to get the stygium replica ring in the light. Moist wakes up the next day in the Post Office as Vetinari’s clerks are going through the bank again. Gladys is reading a new book that Adora Belle gave her and no longer seems to have a crush on him. Pucci was taken away after blabbing everything, and Cosmo’s life was saved after some careful amputation. Vetinari’s coach is waiting outside, and he brings Moist and Adorable Belle to the Fool’s Guild to see Mr. Bent.

It turns out that Bent’s mother had an affair with a clown and when she died, his father took him back to the circus and put him in the family makeup as the Charlie Benito clown. There Bent was laughed at, a thing he could not endure, so he ran away. Moist asks Bent to come back to the bank and help him run things properly. Vetinari brings Moist and Adora Belle to the palace gardens and agrees to all of Moist’s earlier terms, as he has already figured out that the golems listened to him because of the golden suit—they think that makes him an Umnian priest. Moist suggests that the Patrician tell all the countries the golden suit secret so that no one can use them as an army. It turns out that someone has already sent a clacks message to that effect, which would be treason, of course. Despite being the most likely suspect, Moist knows Vetinari is the one who did it, and that no one will ever be able to pin it on him. Owlswick Clamp has also mysteriously “died,” though Vetinari assures Moist that if he needs any more design work done, there’s someone at the “palace” who will be able to help him. On the way back, Adora Belle’s life is threatened by Cribbins, but the man’s dentures explode before he can extort anything out of Moist. Vetinari thinks that perhaps he should apply Moist to the taxman’s position at some point in the future. Mr. Bent and Mrs. Drapes announce their upcoming nuptials on their return to the bank. Hubert orders Igor to use the Glooper to get all the gold back into the bank vault, which interrupts Moist and Adora Belle’s flirting. Cosmo awakens in a ward of the hospital where everyone thinks they are Vetinari—but obviously he’s the real one.


The Moist von Lipwig books are so interesting because they are ultimately about the effects of the industrial era, right? And as I said previously of Going Postal, they manage to deal with very heavy and dour subjects by allowing fantasy to take the sting out of the wound, as it were. Though in the previous tome, it was handled far more literally—the person doing the majority of the harm was stopped and punished for his crimes. In this story, the solution is more fantastical than the last in one aspect, being that the banks are all revealed to be run by crooks, but Moist handily fixes the problem by changing their system.

It’s all a bit romantic, isn’t it? Which is very Moist, in its way. He devises a system of currency that is built on the value of the city in a literal sense; it becomes the buried golems rather than the denizens themselves, but it’s still ultimately what he proposed. The bank is backed by the potentiality of Ankh-Morpork’s industry and might. As a result, Pucci’s reveal that all the banks are constantly using their vault gold however they please doesn’t really touch anyone. The bank-owning class might be a bit nervous for a while, but they will ultimately go back to doing business as usual. More citizens will likely have access to the banking system now that Moist chose to open up lending, but it’s hardly the same sort of triumph that the Post Office was.

It’s accurate for satire, of course, which is merely mirroring the world we have at an angle. Because this is ultimately what industry did for the world: Lead us to globalization. Which has its own list of pros and cons certainly, but is, from a cynical vantage point, merely about getting along so that we can all make more money off of each other. As the Discworld books are bemusingly poised with one foot in the medieval(ish) era and one foot in the industrial one, that is the choice that Vetinari is presenting at the end of this story: Do we want an empire or a modern city of commerce? He’s already chosen the way, of course, but it’s hilarious seeing it laid out like an either-or choice rather than something that happened gradually over centuries.

The reveal of Mr. Bent’s heritage is not only a fun twist, but winds up making good on all of the Fool’s Guild jokes in previous books, at least for me. It’s fine to rib about clowns, but having one of them use their skills to bring down those in power is inspired and, more importantly, an actual tactic used by anti-fascists and anti-authoritarians. Moist is correct when he jumps to take the pie meant for Vetinari—most tyrannical powers cannot survive being made to look foolish. It strips them of their might. A pie to the face is quick and easy means to that end.

Having said that, while Drumknott and Vetinari are both keen to note Moist’s grasp of theatrics, it’s much funnier that they both roundly refuse to acknowledge Vetinari’s own. (Moist knows, of course. And appreciates the man’s timing as much as the rest of the city.) Grabbing a bit of custard out of the air and announcing that it’s pineapple is every bit as vaudevillian as his juggling act, after all.

There’s a softness to Vetinari at the end of this story that I have to note because it foils Vimes’ development in its own way; while Vimes seems to grow sharper in the mind’s eye, Vetinari rounds at the edges. The fact that he insists Cosmo’s cane-sword is a replica of a fiction (whether or not it is really isn’t the point so much as his desire not to be thought of as a man who murders thousands to get enough iron for his blade), the way he tests Moist by having him hold the replica (because he wants to be sure that Moist isn’t a violent man as well), and most of all… the way he adopts Mr. Fusspot simply by feeding him treats and calling him home. It makes me feel a little soft in turn, which is a weird way to feel about a self-professed tyrant. Only Pratchett could manage that.

Asides and little thoughts

  • Would just like to point out that, though they are doing good in this particularly instance by keeping the people safe, one of Vimes’ officers accepts a bribe from Moist with those stamps. Kind of important, that.
  • “Indeed, the leopard can change his shorts!” Look, I just need to know if the idiom is different on the Disc, or if Vetinari heard it wrong and everyone followed suit rather than telling him so. I need to know.
  • The “Gladys Is Doing It For Herself” chapter subhead is a reference to the song “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves,” which I first heard in its Spice Girls cover form. Which probably says something about me, though I’m not sure what. (No, I do know. You are free to hazard a guess, though.)
  • On a heartbreaking note, I’m feeling ways about the fact that I was on this book, where we learn that Vetinari lost Wuffles, when I lost my own pup. GNU Archer. Miss you, my sweet little guy.


And now, Moist thought, for the Moment of Truth. If possible, though, it would become the Moment of Plausible Lies, since most people were happier with them.

What the iron maiden was to stupid tyrants, the committee was to Lord Vetinari; it was only slightly more expensive, far less messy, considerably more efficient, and, best of all, you had to force people to climb inside the iron maiden.

The crowd made for the door, where it got stuck and fought itself.

Vetinari stood up and brought his stick down flat on the table, ending the noise like the punctuation of the gods.

Mr. Lipwig had been in trouble, but it seemed to Igor that trouble hit Mr. Lipwig like a wave hitting a flotilla of ducks. Afterward, there was no wave but there was still a lot of duck.

“No, that’s what I enjoy. You get a wonderful view from the point of no return.”

Next week, I thought we’d take a detour and start Nation! Which I’ve definitely never read, so this should be fun. We’ll read Chapters 1-4. icon-paragraph-end

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