Making Money is the second Moist von Lipwig book (Moist – I said it!), following up on Going Postal. While Going Postal obviously focused on the Ankh-Morpork post office, Making Money focuses instead on the revolutionizing of the Ankh-Morpork banking system, specifically the invention of paper currency. I don’t have that many opinions on like… paper currency and the gold standard (or the golem standard, as it turns out) or banking regulations or anything like that. But all of this in the book still manages to be riveting.
I attribute that mostly to the character of Moist von Lipwig, who has grown bored with the post office, now that it is running smoothly. Of course, before he knows it, he ends up being the guardian and caretaker of a dog who owns majority shares of the bank of Ankh-Morpork, thus making the dog chairman (and Moist acting chairman). Because of shenanigans. And there’s no time for boredom, because as Moist quickly discovers, the bank is in serious trouble. Namely that it has no money. Moist’s interactions with the side characters is what makes this book.
The bank is unofficially being run by one Mr. Bent. Mr. Bent is, to my mind, one of the quintessential Discworld “weird quirky trope reversal” characters. You see, throughout the entire book, Mr. Bent acts very strange. He’s a very rigid man, he keeps to his routines very strictly, and he is obsessed with numbers and counting. He is very dour and wears all black and has absolutely no sense of humor. Various hints are dropped throughout the book that he may be a vampire – possibly one who is not a Black Ribboner, the vampires who pledge not to partake of human blood.
Of course he’s not a vampire. That’s too damn obvious. Terry Pratchett would never set something up so obviously without subverting the hell out of it. No, Mr. Bent’s background, his dark tragic story, is something much more terrible than that. It turns out, Mr. Bent was born into a family… of clowns. When he realized that he hated it, he ran away and encountered a band of traveling accountants, who took him in. And in the climax of the book, his clown skills are what saves the day, when he arrives in a courtroom throwing pies. It’s that kind of story.
Previously the bank had been run by the rather disturbed Lavish family, the dog having been left to Moist by one Topsy Lavish, a fun wild old lady (my favorite kind). There’s also some other members of the Lavish family, primarily Cosmo Lavish (whose insanity leads him to believe that he is the real Vetinari) and his sister Pucci (who tries to engage in a honey trap with Moist). And all of their interactions are delightful, proving once again that Pratchett is a master of creating vivid side characters.
“It’s a bit silly, but none of us can change how we’re made, I always say.”
“The Igor position on prayer is that it is nothing more than hope with a beat to it.”
“Wing it! There’s nothing left. Remember the nearly gold chain? This is the other end of the rainbow. Talk yourself out of a situation you can’t talk your way out of. Make your own luck. Put on a show. If you fall, let them remember how you turned it into a dive. Sometimes the finest hour is the last one.”
“A weapon you held and didn’t know how to use belonged to your enemy.”