Book:Going Postal

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Going Postal
Cover art by Paul Kidby
Illustrator(s) Paul Kidby
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date 25 Sep 2004
ISBN 0385603428
Pages 329
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. And don't forget the legendary Mrs. Cake!

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 Patrician's office. Lord Vetinari, who had 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 semi-disguised pit of spikes, 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 are initially distrustful of Moist and appear to be afraid of a mysterious presence that is haunting the building.

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 persuade Gilt to change his ways. 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 nearly suffocates to death, but he is rescued by Mr Pump. Moist realises that the building is haunted because of the large number of undelivered letters. He hears voices in his head from the letters, demanding that they be delivered.

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.

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). Moist also invents paper stamps for use by the Post Office, hires golems as postmen, gets the business working by delivering some of the undelivered mail and brings the Post Office into 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. The banshee only succeeds in setting the Post Office on fire. Moist senses trouble through the letters that are haunting his consciousness. He returns to the burning building, 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.

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 to damage the machinery.

Archchancellor Ridcully gives both groups 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 Smoking Gnu. At the last minute, Moist persuades them to send a different signal. The message, which announces that it was 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 some weeks later. 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.



Concepts and Ideas


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.



Adapted by Stephen Briggs into a stage play in 2005.


Book Proof by Bernard Pearson
Audio CD
Paperback cover by Paul Kidby
US Cover
US Cover-paperback
TV Series Cover
Promotional First day cover stamp
Collectors Library
2023 Penguin paperback

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