Book:Going Postal

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Going Postal
Co-author(s) {{{coauthors}}}
Illustrator(s) {{{illustrator}}}
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date 25 Sep 2004
ISBN 0385603428
Pages 329
RRP {{{rrp}}}
Main characters Moist von Lipwig, Adora Belle Dearheart, Reacher Gilt
Series Ankh-Morpork Books
Annotations View
Notes Adapted as a TV film in 2010
All data relates to the first UK edition.


Moist von Lipwig is a con artist and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet.

It's a tough decision.

But he's got to see that the mail gets through, come rain, hail, sleet, dogs, the Post Office Workers Friendly and Benevolent Society, the evil chairman of the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, and a midnight killer.

Getting a date with Adora Belle Dearheart would be nice, too.

Maybe it'll take a criminal to succeed where honest men have failed, or maybe it's a death sentence either way.

Or perhaps there's a shot at redemption in the mad world of the mail, waiting for a man who's prepared to push the envelope...


Moist von Lipwig is a travelling fraudster who is finally arrested in Ankh-Morpork under the name of Albert Spangler. However, the hangman fakes his execution and Moist wakes up in the care of the Patrician. Vetinari, having been the one who arranged for Lipwig to only be hanged "to within half an inch" of his life, offers Moist a job as the new Postmaster General, or he can walk out the door and "never hear from me again". Since walking out the door will result in death via a cunningly disguised lack of floor in the corridor, Moist accepts the job. Once outside he immediately flees the city, but is apprehended in Hapley by his new parole officer, a golem called Mr. Pump.

Moist begins work at the Post Office, once a thriving business that collapsed, leaving the building as a decaying shell full of piles of undelivered letters. Only two staff remain: Tolliver Groat, an aged "Junior" Post Officer, and his assistant Stanley Howler. It turns out that in recent months, Vetinari has tried to revive the business, but four Postmasters have already died in mysterious accidents.

Stanley and Groat and distrustful of Moist's presence and fear that it along with his behaviour will upset "them"; the yet unseen presence in the Post Office that may have ties to the mysterious deaths. Groat cautions Stanley not to get to hopeful about any restoration has "they" have been upset enough and getting their hopes up will be a bad thing.

Vetinari meets with the Grand Trunk Semaphore Company, led by Reacher Gilt, who have taken full control of the Clacks. The Patrician has noticed that the quality of the communications has deteriorated ever since they bought the Clacks network, but he fails to impact on Gilt. Meanwhile, Moist discovers that two of his predecessors died because they hallucinated in the past and fell through non-existent floor, while another died of fright. Moist falls into a huge pile of letters and almost suffocates to death, but he is rescued by Mr Pump.

Moist reveals to Mr Pump the identity of the mysterious "they" is the letters wich violently confronted him in the mailslide; with each indavidual letter "reading" themselves to him nearly destroying his mind in the prosess. Pump confirms that this is indeed possible and the Post Office is a "Tomb of unheard words" and they are now trying to talk to Moist since he sent one of them.

Moist begins by rehiring some of the old postmen, who initiate him by forcing him to do a treacherous blindfolded Postman's Walk. To prove himself worthy of leadership, they additionally set several Lipwigzer dogs on him, but Moist knows how to control them, as he hails from the town of Lipwig where the dogs also originate and his grandfather breeds such dogs. Groat then shows Moist the mail-sorting machine; a time/space-warping, (and now wrecked,) creation of the infamous Bloody Stupid Johnson, which was partly responsible for the collapse of the old Post Office, and later for the death of a Postmaster.

After his oficial inauguration as Poastmaster the consiousness of the letters communicates with him again though in a less violent manner than their first introduction. Though Moist is not the perfect choice they are glad that they have a Postmaster again. Despite Moist's protest he is not the one they want the consiousness forms a bond with his mind giving him their memories of the post office has it was, how they want it be again and a simple request. Their wish to be delivered.

While hiring new postmen, Moist falls in love-at-first-sight with Adora Belle Dearheart, the chain-smoking golem-rights activist. Her father, Robert Dearheart, invented the Clacks system, but it was stolen from him by Gilt using financial trickery. Her brother, John Dearheart, organised a rival New Trunk, but he died mysteriously (in the prologue of the book).

Concerned with the effect the consiousness of the letters is haviing on him and the link they have put in his mind Moist visits the Unseen University. He is told that the consciouness is a result of the mass collection of unheard words and its the function of a letter to be sent and received. Since that has not been happening the consciousness has become desperate and frustrated. While not possessing a human inteligence they will try anything to be delivered. Moist is the first person to clearly hear them and he delivered one of them so they latched on to him for deliverance. Moist is left reeling since their are so many letters to deliver but is assured by the wizards that his delivery's so far is calming the consiousness.

Moist also invents paper stamps for use by the Post Office, hires golems as postmen, organises delivering some of the undelivered mail and brings the Post Office in competition with the Clacks. His interview in the Ankh-Morpork Times coincides neatly with yet another breakdown of the Clacks, giving the Post Office public attention as he personally delivers mail to Sto Lat.

Gilt sends his private assassin, a banshee named Mr Gryle, to murder the Postmaster and burn down the building. As Moist has gone out on a date and left Groat in charge, the banshee mistakenly attacks Groat, only to be repelled by Stanley. Moist is made aware of the danger by the consiousness of the letters; nearly dieing from the agony he can feel from them of being burnt alive befoe the link breaks.

The banshee only succeeds in setting the Post Office on fire. After he returns to the burning building, Moist enters the building to rescue Mr. Tiddles the Post Offices cat, and confronts Mr Gryle by the sorting machine; Gryle accidentally succeeds in getting himself liquidated by it. During his rescue, Anghammarad, a 18,000-year-old messenger golem is killed by the simultaneous combination of the fire and a sudden downpour of water, and is permitted by Death to spend eternity in The Desert at Anghammarad's request.

Following this, Moist challenges the Grand Trunk to see who can get a message to Genua (a two weeks' journey away), faster, and the Clacks are only too happy to accept it. He meets The Smoking Gnu, three friends of the late John Dearheart, who undermine the Grand Trunk by sending codes which can damage the Clacks machinery. They offer to help by sending a killer poke signal from an old wizard's tower after nightfall.

Archchancellor Ridcully gives them a book to send to Genua, and Moist offers to allow the Clacks to send part of the book while the mail coach delivers the rest. Moist travels with the mail coach for a short distance to the Wizards tower, where he meets the three clacksmen. At the last minute, Moist persuades them to send a different message. The message, which appears to have been sent by dead clacksmen, exposes all of the company's crimes to the Patrician and Ankh-Morpork. The plan succeeds, and Vetinari orders an investigation. Moist is given possession of the Clacks but he gives it back to the Dearhearts and resumes his role of Postmaster.

In the epilogue, Gilt is brought before the Patrician. Vetinari offers Gilt a similar offer to what he offered Moist, this time to reform the Ankh-Morpork Mint and banking system. Gilt declines the offer and walks out the door, where he presumably falls to his death.




Terry Pratchett's Going Postal
IMDB 1219817
First Broadcast 30-31 May 2010
Broadcast Channel Sky One
Director(s) Jon Jones
Producer(s) Sue De Beauvoir
Writer(s) {{{writer}}}
Starring Richard Coyle, David Suchet, Claire Foy, Charles Dance
Duration 182 minutes
Episodes 2
Series Ankh-Morpork Series
Annotations Annotations for Book:Going Postal
Preceded by Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic
Followed by '
All data relates to the UK home release.

Terry Pratchett's Going Postal was the novel's adaptation into a TV film. It was first broadcast on Sky One and Sky 1 HD, in two parts over the 30th and 31st of May 2010. Terry Pratchett made a cameo as a postman.


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