Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mrs. Bradshaw's Handbook, by Sir Terry Pratchett

Today I'm looking at a slim little volume that I picked up when I was on vacation back in August, Mrs. Bradshaw's Handbook, which is a complimentary book to the Discworld series. As people who read Raising Steam may remember, Mrs. Bradshaw was a character who Moist von Lipwig met very briefly and recommended to Harry King to write about the railway as a form of advertising. Mrs. Bradshaw's Handbook is that book, albeit written by Sir Terry Pratchett and aided with The Discworld Emporium as a sort of artifact from the Disc. Sort of like how you can buy copies of the Imperial Infantryman's Uplifting Primer if you're a 40k fan. (Also, holy cow, $150? I definitely didn't pay that much for my copy!) Anyway it's a neat little book if a little...repetitive.

I can't really talk about the plot of this book because there is no plot. It's actually written as a guidebook for a traveller on the Ankh-Morpork & Sto Plains Hygienic Railway and divided into six chapters. The first chapter deals with ticketing, boarding trains, and details about the main terminal in Ankh-Morpork. The remaining five chapters deal with various portions of the AM&SPHR's line and the various stops, as well as the different attractions and amenities one can expect to find at various locations. Each chapter also includes a more detailed description of the hotels at various stops along the line.

Physically it's a very nice book. So far it's only been printed in hardcover and includes the appearance of a distressed book on the cover, which is a neat little feature I like. There are also lots of neat illustrations and bits of ephemera from the Disc that are included in the book. Now you're probably wondering, ''Kalpar, why are you talking about what the book looks like? You never talk about that.'' And you'd be right to ask that but...there's not a lot more to the book beyond that. It looks nice and it's a neat thing to have but it feels very lacking in substance. There are some good jokes but otherwise it's just a list of small towns that don't have a lot about them other than the unique way the locals use cabbages.

And that's where the book gets really repetitive in my opinion, especially when it comes to cabbages. Like, it's a little funny at the beginning when they start mentioning cabbages. It's like, ''Haha, man, those people really like their cabbages!'' And then it turns into a joke that's beaten to death and it becomes a relief when we finally get to parts of the Disc that don't grow cabbages. This town makes boots out of cabbages. This town makes paper out of cabbages. This town has a cabbage theme park. This town doesn't exist anymore because somebody made explosive sauerkraut. I just got tired of hearing about cabbages over and over.

So who would I recommend this book for? Probably avid Discworld fans like me who want to collect anything and everything connected to Discworld. If you're already deeply in love with the Disc this will be a nice addition to your collection of all things Pratchett. If you're just a casual fan or a newcomer, this book isn't really worth your time because you'll just be confused more than anything else.

- Kalpar

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