Discworld Valedictory Novel? Not a bad way to go out

Raising Steam (Discworld, #40)Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have to admit I might be a tad generous in the stars. This book feels like a valedictory, a tragicomic ending to one of the most enjoyable series ever written. Steam trains on Discworld work, I’m happy to report, but I’m not sure how dwarfs would feel about being equated with Islamic extremists. Seems a bit rude, to the dwarfs.
A lot of the good old boys are back (the ramrod-straight copper who only looks the other way when it’s convenient, the adrenalin-charged scoundrel Pratchett seems so fond of, the mucky capitalist, the tyrant who really has to be allowed to kill once in awhile just to keep him happy). Their wives get mentioned but other than the Muck-Meister’s prissily proper Victorian Age type, they don’t play much of a role.
True as well, some of Pratchett’s good old girls are completely absent (Lady Death Susan, the three witches). The tyrant’s lady friend, a vegetarian vampire of some sort, makes an appearance, as do a few of the Watch and wizardly favourites but Rincewind only gets a mention. No soccer playing orcs this time but plenty of golems, albeit mostly for plot resolution purposes.
The flippant tone is there for the most part but somehow the always eagerly anticipated, laugh-out-loud moments got left behind in just about every other book in the series. Nevertheless it is a Discworld novel and there’s no place quite like Discworld. I wanted more but I got enough, so I’m recommending it.

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Not all that secret anymore

The Secret DoctrineThe Secret Doctrine by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

For many years folks have said there was a lot of H.P. Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine in the Phantacea Mythos. Since I’d never read it I always poo-poohed the notion. Some time ago, while on a book buying quest for something a least ostensibly non-fictional I spotted this version, which was abridged and annotated by Michael Gomes.It’s relatively short at 255 pages and has a decent index so I picked it up and recently finished it.

Have to say that, as far as this sort of thing goes, it’s no Manly P Hall, whom I have used as a reference. No Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends either. It certainly didn’t strike me as all that insightful but that could be the abridgement, too much sacrificed for brevity. As for the annotations, there could have been a whole lot more.

Then again Blavatsky herself spends most of the second part of the book providing her own annotations in the form of commentary. It’s actually more interesting than the Secret Doctrine itself, which certainly traffics in admittedly unknowable, ages ago and far, far from now speculation. I’ll keep it on my shelf but don’t expect it’ll need to be chained there. It’s all bit ho-hum.

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