And now on the Discworld re-read, Monstrous Regiment, which needs a spoiler cut; my prior booklog entry is spoiler-free.
This is SUCH a weird book. Notably bleak, especially in the beginning—I think probably the bleakest—and trying to do a lot of different things at once without full success. I didn’t bounce off it this time, but I really understand why I did the first time: all the different stories in it mean that the shape of the thing wobbles around a lot.
It’s interesting to compare it to Night Watch in its views about the mechanisms of social change, as people did over on Becca’s post. I am emphatically not a fan of “women (behaving “like women”) are more sensible” as a source of hope for the future, but perhaps “outsiders have better perspective,” combined with “if you don’t behave the way you think you’re expected to, you can get stuff done,” are sustainable readings. And I do very much like the way this book continues the work that’s been done in the Witch books about refusing to be confined by established roles for women and indeed going further as to what being a woman means and what women can do—not just in terms of serving in the army, but things like Shufti declining to be made a respectable but false widow.
Also, hey, I do believe that we have Discworld’s first canon same-sex couple in Tonker and Lofty (who, I have to say, make me very uncomfortable, because no matter how traumatic their lives have been and how justifiably sympathetic the narrative is for that, letting a firebug wander around is still not actually a good idea). And while I don’t know if this was Pratchett’s intent, and it’s hard to make distinctions like this on Discworld because the characters mostly don’t have these kinds of concepts, but I think it’s quite reasonable to read both Maladict and Jackrum as trans men.
Finally, here’s a nice analysis of gender performance regarding the washerwomen.