Monstrous Regiment (Discworld Series #31)

Monstrous Regiment (Discworld Series #31)

by Terry Pratchett

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War rages on—with one unconventional soldier—in Terry Pratchett's bestselling Discworld® series

War has come to Discworld . . . again. And, to no one's great surprise, the conflict centers around the small, arrogantly fundamentalist duchy of Borogravia, which has long prided itself on its unrelenting aggressiveness. A year ago, Polly Perks's brother marched off to battle, and Polly is willing to resort to drastic measures to find him. So she cuts off her hair, dons masculine garb, and—aided by a well-placed pair of socks—sets out to join the army. Since a nation in such dire need of cannon fodder cannot afford to be too picky, Polly is eagerly welcomed into the fighting fold, along with a vampire, a troll, an Igor, a religious fanatic, and two uncommonly close "friends." It would appear that Polly "Ozzer" Perks isn't the only grunt with a secret. But duty calls, the battlefield beckons, and now is the time for all good, er . . . "men," to come to the aid of their country.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062307415
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 07/29/2014
Series: Discworld Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 109,633
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England


Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Monstrous Regiment

By Terry Pratchett

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Terry Pratchett All right reserved. ISBN: 006001315X

Chapter One

Polly cut off her hair in front of the mirror, feeling slightly guilty about not feeling very guilty about doing so. It was supposed to be her crowning glory, and everyone said it was beautiful, but she generally wore it in a net when she was working. She'd always told herself it was wasted on her. Yet she was careful to see that the long golden coils all landed on the small sheet spread out for the purpose.

If she would admit to any strong emotion at all at this time, it was sheer annoyance that a haircut was all she needed to pass for a young man. She didn't even need to bind up her bosom, which she'd heard was the normal practice. Nature had seen to it that she had barely any problems in this area.

The effect that the scissors had was ... erratic, but it was no worse than other male haircuts here. It'd do.

She did feel cold on the back of her neck, but that was only partly because of the loss of her long hair. It was also because of the Stare.

The Duchess watched her from above the bed.

It was a poor woodcut, hand-colored, mostly in blue and red. It was of a plain, middle-aged woman whose sagging chin and slightly bulging eyes gave the cynical the feeling that someone had put a large fish in a dress, but the artist had managed tocapture something extra in that strange, blank expression. Some pictures had eyes that followed you around the room; this one looked right through you. It was a face you found in every home. In Borogravia, you grew up with the Duchess watching you.

Polly knew her parents had one of the pictures in their room, and knew also that when her mother was alive she used to curtsy to it every night.

She reached up and turned this picture around so that it faced the wall.

A thought in her head said No. It was overruled. She'd made up her mind.

Then she dressed herself in her brother's clothes, tipped the contents of the sheet into a small bag that went into the bottom of her pack along with the spare clothes, put a note to her father on her bed, picked up the pack, and climbed out of the window. At least, Polly climbed out of the window, but it was Oliver's feet that landed lightly on the ground.

Dawn was just turning the dark world into monochrome when she slipped across the inn's yard.

The Duchess watched her from the inn sign, too. Her father had been a great loyalist, at least up to the death of her mother. The sign hadn't been repainted this year, and a random bird-dropping had given the Duchess a squint.

Polly checked that the recruiting sergeant's cart was still in front of the bar, its bright banners now drab and heavy with last night's rain. By the look of that big fat sergeant, it would be hours before it was on the road again. She had plenty of time. He looked like a slow breakfaster.

She let herself out of the door in the back wall and headed uphill.

At the top, she turned back and looked at the waking town. Smoke was rising from a few chimneys, but since Polly was always the first to wake, and she yelled the maids out of their beds, the inn was still sleeping. She knew that the Widow Clambers had stayed overnight (it had been "raining too hard for her to go home," according to Polly's father) and, personally, she hoped for his sake that she'd stay every night. The town had no shortage of widows, for Nuggan's sake, and Olga Clambers was a warm-hearted lady who baked like a champion. His wife's long illness and Paul's long absence had taken a lot out of her father. Polly was glad some of it was put back. The old ladies who spent their days glowering from their windows might spy and peeve and mumble, but they had been doing that for too long. No one listened anymore.

She raised her gaze. Smoke and steam were already rising from the laundry of the Girls' Working School. The building hung over one end of the town like a threat, big and gray with tall, thin windows. It was always silent.

When she was small, she'd been told that was where The Bad Girls went. The nature of "badness" was not explained, and at the age of five Polly had received the vague idea that it consisted of not going to bed when you were told. At the age of eight she'd learned it was where you were lucky not to go for buying your brother a paint box.

She turned her back and set off between the trees, which were full of birdsong.

Forget you were ever Polly. Think young male, that was the thing. Fart loudly and with self-satisfaction at a job well done, walk like a puppet that'd had a couple of random strings cut, never hug anyone, and, if you meet a friend, punch them. A few years working in the bar had provided plenty of observational material. No problem about not swinging her hips, at least. Nature had been pretty sparing there, too.

And then there was the young-male walk to master. At least women swung only their hips. Young men swung everything, from the shoulders down. You have to try to occupy a lot of space, she thought. It makes you look bigger, like a tomcat fluffing his tail. She'd seen it a lot in the inn. The boys tried to walk big in self-defense against all those other big boys out there. I'm bad, I'm fierce, I'm cool, I'd like a pint of shandy and me mam wants me home by nine ...


Excerpted from Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett
Copyright © 2003 by Terry Pratchett
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Monstrous Regiment 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 87 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a Discworld series fan, and have just about every book in the series. For those not acquainted with the Discworld, there are series within the series, such as story-lines dedicated to a coven of witches, a wizard's university and a police force. Monstrous Regiment is mostly a stand-alone book (other stand-alone Discworld books include Pyramids, Small Gods, Moving Pictures and The Truth) that has ties to the story of the Discworld as a whole. I have thoroughly enjoyed Monstrous Regiment! Like all Discworld books it is funny, thought provoking and touching. I think most people have asked themselves what life would be like to be the opposite sex, Terry Pratchett has plumbed the depths of this curious subject surprisingly well. As a woman, I can vouche that he seems to have gotten a grasp not only of what is like to be a woman in a mans' world, but a woman trying to blend seamlessly into that world. The story is addicitng, and a revelation at each turn of the page. This book is appropriate for Discworld regulars, and even those visiting the Disc for the first time!
Captain_SmokeblowerTW More than 1 year ago
I get caught up in Terry Pratchett stories knowing full well he has a message. That's important because writers may let their message overpower their story (or their story is just a veneer to their message), but Terry Pratchett weaves a tale that traps me. I bought into the story of "Monstrous Regiment" sword, epaulet, and unmentionables. [I may be mistaken that Terry Pratchett has a message; it's possible he just sees situations, institutions, and the world differently, i.e. more clearly that others. In which case it's no wonder his stories come across as they do.] "Monstrous Regiment" follows the military career of our heroine/hero driven to join the army, but not really out of patriotism. The story follows her during a war initiated out of national false pride and sustained by vilifying an enemy whose army is led by an old friend (to those who read the Discworld stories) from the Ankh-Morpork City Watchmen, Sir Samuel Vimes. While the story is told from our heroines perspective as a soldier following orders, we sense her growing understanding of war from the soldier's perspective as its contrasted with the politician's patriotism, but always there is the central problem faced by, yet hidden by, our heroine; she's a woman in a man's army isn't she?
harstan More than 1 year ago
Over the last three decades, the Duchy of Borogravia has declared war on all of its neighbors. Now more countries have formed the alliance whose goal is to destroy the duchy. The prince of Zlobenia is the heir to the Borogravian throne and hopes to prove the ruling family has died out so he can incorporate it into his country. Polly is not interested in issues of state but intends to find her brother and bring him home.

She disguises herself as a male and signs up to join the army. Her unit consists of other females masquerading as men, a vampire, a troll, an Igor as well as a heroic sergeant. When they capture some enemy soldiers, instead of taking them as POW¿s, they end up releasing them, not realizing one of the soldiers is the prince of Zlobenia. Their actions bring them to the attention of the Alliance who is inspired by the courage of the MONSTROUS REGIMENT and hesitates to invade their country. That hesitation gives Polly and the other members of the unit a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of the Alliance and a chance for Borogravia to retain its independence.

It¿s always a pleasure visiting Discworld where the magical and mundane exist side by side. MONSTROUS REGIMENT is one of the better novels in this long running series because the characters are zany and quirky yet somehow believable. Terry Pratchett seems to write a light-hearted comical fantasy but in reality he is using humor to provide a very deep condemnation of terrorists and nations that make war inevitable.

Harriet Klausner

ClicksClan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read every book on the top shelf of my bookcase when I finished with The Wee Free Men I moved on to the next shelf down and the thirty-first of Terry Pratchett¿s Discworld books, Monstrous Regiment. This is one of the only books that really sort of stands alone; Sam Vimes comes into it a little and of course Death makes a cameo, but otherwise it¿s dealing with entirely new characters in an entirely new country. I do wonder if perhaps that¿s what I like about it so much. Slight warning here, if you¿ve not read this book and you¿re not wanting the little twists to be revealed, you might want to skip this review¿ I¿ll try not to give too much away, but I can¿t make any promises.It¿s also one of the last Discworld novels I read before I started doing the whole reading-the-whole-series-in-order thing that I¿ve been working on since very late 2010. I loved this book when I first read it and so I was very much looking forward to the reread. It features Polly Perks, a girl in a country where being a girl isn¿t particularly great. Her country is permanently at war with one or another of the surrounding countries and her brother has gone away to fight. She decides to leave the family Inn, The Duchess, to find him and bring him home. Of course, the only way to do this is to sign up for the army and so with the squad she¿s joined (which includes a vampire, a troll and an Igor), Oliver (as she renames herself) travels towards the front, meanwhile more and more of the males in the book are revealed to actually be females.I thought I remembered this one very well, but as I said, it¿s probably been about three (or maybe slightly more) years since I read it, so while I knew the basic outline of the plot there were massive bits that I¿d forgotten. One of the really big twists at the end (which is very cleverly hinted at most of the way through) came as a bit of a surprise to me¿ at least until Polly decided to reveal it, then I kind of knew what was coming. It wasn¿t that I¿d remembered it though, it was just piecing it together from the text as though I¿d never read it before.I did also get through it very quickly. As always when reading the Discworld books, I¿m torn between hurtling through them because I find them hilarious and I love reading them and I want to know what¿s going to happen next, and reading them dead slowly because I¿m fast getting to the end of the published series and I¿m not looking forward to taking them all off my bookcase and replacing them with something new. I¿ve got six Discworld books left to read at the moment, plus I Shall Wear Midnight and Snuff still to get for my collection. I¿m hoping that perhaps I can drag it out until nearer the end of the summer before I need to get them but at this rate it¿ll be sooner rather than later.The book is largely told through Polly¿s eyes which works really well, she has a fantastic attitude. It also means that the boys are slowly revealed to be boys as she discovers them. Meanwhile you¿re also learning about the religious and political aspects of their country as well. It means that there¿s none of the info-dumps that you occasionally get in fantasy books. Plus you get to learn a bit more about vampires and the Igors as well.My one little problem was keeping all the characters¿ names straight. There were the girls, who had adopted boys names, went largely by their surnames when being given orders but used adopted nicknames when speaking to each other; in some cases there were three or four names to try to remember. They sunk in eventually but to begin with there was a bit of flipping backwards to remind myself who was who.So far it doesn¿t seem that Terry Pratchett has written anything more featuring Polly Perks or Borogravia, which is a shame because I¿d love to have a bit more like this to look forward to. I am pleased that the next book in the series is A Hat Full Of Sky another of the Tiffany Aching series even if it does mean that I¿m that much closer to the last Di
sloopjonb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A poor book included here purely for completist reasons. The 'message' is didactic, the characterisation thin, the plot full of holes and the jokes few.
RobertDay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pratchett's novels keep getting more and more serious; 'Monstrous regiment' is no exception. Taking the old folk trope of the woman who disguises herself as a man to follow her sweetheart/brother into the army, Pratchett pushes this idea as far as it will go (and then some), on the way examining war, peace, the nature of women's reactions to these states, gender identity, class and stereotyping. Oh, and socks, too.As with many recent Pratchett novels, the magical elements of the Discworld are receding as the society develops - here we are roughly in the earrly 19th century in Earth terms. True, there are the fantastic characters - the trolls, goblins, werewolves and vampires (who have signed the Pledge), and some magical apparatus such as the iconograph are still used. And there are supernatural elements to the story. But this is essentially Pratchett holding a mirror up to our own times.(In case no-one else has spotted it, the title is a reference to Charles I's best-seller, "The first blast of the trumpet against the monstrous regiment of women". Quite apposite in many ways. Look it up.)
Maaike15274 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really good, moving story. Although I was not exactly rolling over the floor, it still managed to make me giggle every now and then. This is one of the more serious Discworld novels (or maybe its just me).
salimbol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another gem from Pratchett, gleefully skewering gender norms and militarism. As always, there's real substance behind the (many) laugh-out-loud moments.
ds_61_12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on pb cover:Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting of her hair and wearing trousers was easy. Learning to fart and belch in public and walk like an ape took more time...And now she's enlisted in the army, and is searching for her brother.But there's a war on. There's always awar on. And Polly and her fellow recruits are suddenly in the thick of it, without any training, and the enemy is hunting them.All they have on their side is the most artful sergeant in the army and a vampire with a lust for coffee. Well... They have the Secret. And as they take the war to the heart of the enemy, they have to use all the resources of... the Monstrous Regiment.You get all this and it is still funny. At the same time it is a book that questions pacifism, war, religious fanaticism and gender. It is satire of a serious kind, at times you laugh out loud, at times you frown at the similarities with the real world.Great book and definitly recommended.
catherinestead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
War, Discworld style. Polly Perks needs to find her brother, Paul. But Paul is a soldier - unless he's a prisoner or a casualty - so Polly pretends to be a boy and joins the army. Polly doesn't know a lot about the army, but even she can work out that her fellow recruits (not to mention the sergeant) are quite ... unusual. And Polly doesn't know the half of it. Very funny, very clever and very powerful. One of the best Discworld novels, and strongly recommended.
SatansParakeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is quite excellent. It is highly amusing, like most of the Discworld books are and it has an insidiously amazing message if your looking for it. The obvious messages seem to be that discrimination against women is bad and that blindly following religious writings doesn't get you very far. Both of these are good, but it is interesting that the theme of the book also applies so well to homosexualtity and the common "don't ask, don't tell" policy that is expected and even enforced in the US military. I can only assume that Pratchett was not unaware of this reading of his novel. I really don't know what his views are on the subject, but I find it extremely hard to believe that he is against homosexuals in the military after reading this book. Even without that message, though, Pratchett does some of his best work in this novel. The characters are interesting, their conundrums are believable, and the conclusion is exciting. Anyone who likes the Discworld series should pick up this book.
benfulton on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Avoid the temptation to race through this one. There are a lot of bits that are totally predictable, and it's hard not to just roll through the text, assuming that you already know everything that's going to happen. There are surprisingly few typical Pratchett topsy-turvy twists, even though the tale of a girl dressing up in boy's clothes to join the army isn't too unusual. But take it slow and read with an eye more on the characters and the social commentary; pay a little less attention to the pace and the action; and you won't be disappointed.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I quite enjoyed this book. It was not as side-splittingly funny as some of the other Discworld novels, but it had quite a few humerous situations and some fine characters.The issues brought up in this story were quite serious. Whether or not one should hide their true selves to get along in society, the fact that people's greed, stubbornness and pride will continue to lead them into senseless wars with one another, patriotism, women's roles, rights and abilities. Yet the author manages to bring these up for thought without pushing his own answers at you.
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Tiny Borogravia is a plagued nuisance to her neighbors and has been for generations - border wars, poor weather, a god that abominates everything from the color blue to beets... But that's a country's rite, right? Sure it is - right up until the abomination and subsequent burning of the clax towers draws the attention of the powers that be in Ankh-Morpork. Obviously one little upstart country can't be allowed to pinch the transfer of news!For Polly, international politics aren't even on the radar. All she wants to do is find her brother Paul, seasons gone for a soldier, and bring him home. Joining up seems the thing to do - all she needs is a haircut, a swagger, and a strategically placed roll of socks...What happens when a group of raw recruits square off against the might of Ankh-Morpork? That's nothing compared to what happens when a group of women in disguise join the army. Funny from cover to cover.
reading_fox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A favourite of mine, although some of the puns are fairly obvious they are still very funny - all the military clothing jokes featuring everybody except Lord Cardigan! It is also a collossal farce, with women dressed as men dressing as women etc etc ad absurdum. The obvious storyline being the ability of women to be men as well as men can be, is carried through the book very well. Polly aka oliver, ozzer, parts, Perks - joins the army disguised as a boy in order to look for her slightly simple brother Paul, this allows the gag Private Parts to be repeated several times. By dint of luck and the tender care of Seargent Jackorum, her small patrol makes it though enemy lines to the keep. Gradually Polly becomes aware that other memebers of her patrol are also women in disguise, much hilarity ensues. The underlying thems though are far deeper and less explict. A simple parallel in names of the complicated conflict in eastern Europe is obvious, but can quickly be extended to the Middle East - Ankh-Morpock features as Polly's conflict has distroyed the clacks towers. Vimes is sent in to restore order along with the imfamous Lord Rust. The symbolism between oil and clacks can be made - the outcome contrasts with the way America has handled the Gulf. Also featuring are comparative religion, pacifism, and gender issues. A thoughtful and movning book on many levels, whilst maintaining the typical humour so beloved of Pratchett this book is one of his best works - even though it only fleetingly mentions some of his most popular characters.
SimonW11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not the world best plot but good characters and the authors humanitydo their work.
fastfinge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the darker discworld novels. However, it does serve as a brilliant twist on the girl-as-boy standard plot, poking fun at societies andthe plot device itself. That's all I can say about that and still honestly keep this review no spoilers. The discworld series is one of those that is improvingwith age. If you haven't yet read this book, even if you've never read any discworld book before, I think you'll enjoy it.
VioletDelirium on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My most favorite Discworld novel is forever changing. However this one, ranks up among the top. It was refreshing to read. With the same wit that Pratchett writes his other novels, yet in a new setting (for all the it's the same world) and fabulous new characters.
altivo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As frequently has happened in its history, the Duchy of Borogravia is embroiled in war with its neighbors over vague points of fundamentalist belief and jingoistic patriotism. The war has gone on too long, the young men of the nation are depleted, and for various reasons, young women begin to surreptitiously take their places. The reaction to this as it is gradually discovered is both hilarious and realistic.
drewandlori on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very, very funny. If you liked this, try "The Man who was Thursday" as well.
heidilove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a fun and satirical look at the entire machine that is the military in western society. nicely done.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not his best but an interesting story of some women who join the army of a repressive country where they're losing the war(s) badly. Fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't know what I had done to become this. I know this isn't me. I had been normal. Grown up, had a childhood, fell in love, but it had been ripped away. Gone. Nothing but these hollow memories and faint feelings remained. One minute I was living my life, the next I was taking others. I didn't know why. It just...happened. I get a feeling to go somewhere and end somebody. I felt like I was doing good. These people were bad people and I was the hero. Right? That's why I did this wasn't it? I didn't know. I had a gut feeling I didn't want to know. I knew I would find out sooner or later. Sooner to spare me pain, later if I wanted agony. So, I picked up a newspaper and read the giant caption that screamed, "MURDERER STILL AT LARGE; IS ANYONE SAFE?" With a picture of my last kill beneath it. I dropped the paper and ran. I ran from it. I pretended I was running from what I was. There was no changing me, but something had changed now. I ran. Until I heard the scream.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago