This is my least favorite Discworld book so far. I think this is mainly because I didn’t find the story appealing at all. The characters were ok, and I really liked Gaspode the talking dog, but I was bored by the story.
At the beginning of the book, an old man living alone in a remote area called Holy Wood dies. After his death, strange things start happening and some alchemists develop the concept of “moving pictures” which become hugely popular. People travel en masse to Holy Wood (I trust you see the joke here), where the moving pictures are being made, in hopes of getting in on the action. Moving pictures don’t work in quite the same manner as real-world moving pictures. Recording a moving picture involves a box with a handle, some enslaved demons who can paint really fast, and some salamanders.
Most of the jokes and satire centers around movies, TV, cartoons, and Hollywood (now do you see the joke?) life. These are things that just don’t interest me that much. If they did, I might have appreciated the story more. I did think the Laddie (i.e. Lassie) stuff was funny. I don’t know if Gaspode has any real-world film equivalent, but he was the best part of the book.
This is the first book in the Industrial Revolution subseries of Discworld. I’m feeling a little skeptical about this subseries now, but maybe I’ll like the other books better. The next book is the 29th Discworld book on my list, though, so it will be a while before I find out. Since I’m reading in publication order, this is the last book flagged as a “starter novel” on the chart and I’ve now had a taste of all the major subseries. Except for Rincewind, though, I don’t feel like I’ve read enough books in any one subseries to choose any favorites. I’m particularly interested to read more from the Witches and Death subseries, though. Fortunately, the next two full-length books on my list are from those two subseries.