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It began as a sudden strange fancy . . . Polly Perks had to become a boy in a hurry. Cutting off 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 searching for her lost brother. But there's a war on. There's always a war 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.
Predjudice is rife all around us, yet with our conditioning from, and by society as a whole, we just don't see it most of the time. It takes an author with a seriously skewed outlook to take a tale of pure fantasy and wrap it around some real issues and problems, and make it something we can read, laugh, enjoy... and only after the last page has slapped us with a great big fish, realise that we have just been handed a view of our world that needs to be seen, and which has suddenly become a lot easier to cope with.
However, even after reading right through this wonderfully witty story, I still found myself a little disappointed by it. Even when, in true Pratchett style, the very last line slapped you right back to the beginning with a punchline that took even me by surprise, I was still missing something that most Discworld books give me... a mental feeling of 'full'.
Overall, though it still carries all the hallmarks of another Pratchett Classic, I would have to disagree with the reviewer from the Starburst (whatever that is), I personally feel that this was NOT one of his best.
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Annaleah and Brian shared something special - Annaleah is sure of it. When they were together, they didn't need anyone else. It didn't matter that their relationship was secret. All that mattered was what they had with each other.
And then, out of nowhere, Brian dies. And while everyone else has their role in the grieving process, Annaleah finds herself living outside of it, unacknowledged and lonely. How can you recover from a loss that no one will let you have?
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"A torn jacket is soon mended; but hard words bruise the heart of a child."
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)