Pratchett addresses two questions here: (1) “Do you think it's possible for an entire nation to be insane?” and (2) Does - and, more importantly, should - a well-placed pair of socks (for 'certain' sort of padding) make a difference? “The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they've found it.” As far as Discworld series is concerned, this book can be easily read as a standalone novel. It brings us to the little backwards country of Borogravia, which is constantly at war with someone - this time it's with Zlobenia. Ankh-Morpork is expected to intervene, since, as Commander Sam Vimes points out in his cameo appearance, "the interests of Ankh-Morpork are the interests of all money-lov... oops, sorry, all freedom-loving people everywhere." "Borogravia was a peace-loving country in the midst of treacherous, devious, warlike enemies. They had to be treacherous, devious, and warlike, otherwise we wouldn't be fighting them, eh? There was always a war." Borogravia's economy is on the verge of collapse, and the country has pretty much run out of eligible soldiers. But this does not stop the little country, governed by a "probably dead" Duchess, the country that follows the ever-expanding ring-bound (makes it easier to add pages) gospel of the god Nuggan, who seems to spend his time coming up with new Abominations - recently, we've had garlic, chocolate, dwarfs, cats, oysters and the color blue join the ranks. "So what we have here is a country that tries to run itself on the commandments of a god, who, the people feel, may be wearing his underpants on his head. Has he Abomined underpants?""No, sir. [...] But it's probably only a matter of time." Polly Perks does not care about war, money, or patriotism. What she cares about is saving her not-too-bright brother who has disappeared in the war. So, of course, she chops her hair off and joins the army disguised as a boy. (Did I mention that lots of Nuggan's Abominations have something to do with women acting "non-womanlike"?) A mysterious unseen benefactor advises her on the benefits of a well-placed pair of socks in the 'nether regions'. And given that the title of the book comes from the infamous The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, the readers can easily guess the true nature of Polly's war comrades.Like we have learned to expect from Sir Terry's novels, this book is witty and has plenty of funny moments. But, as many of his more recent novels, it is also sad, angry and frustrated with the events in Discworld clearly paralleling the things that make us angry in the "Roundworld". I love that this book, like the rest of Pratchett's creations, makes me think. Some may complain that the message of this book is on the heavy-handed side, but I love it. I love that Pratchett is not shy or subtle about getting the message across about the evils and pitfalls of bigotry, prejudice, discrimination, and so-called patriotism bordering on jingoism. He is not subtle about the things that people should NOT be subtle about, and I love it. He is open about asking uncomfortable questions and stirring up trouble, and love this as well.“You take a bunch of people who don't seem any different from you and me, but when you add them all together you get this sort of huge raving maniac with national borders and an anthem.” Another thing I love about Pratchett's writing is that he is one of the (regrettably) few male fantasy authors who can portray a woman as not a stereotype or a caricature or a mystery or an adorable nuisance or a far-fetched ideal but as a normal (well, normal for Discworld), real, and believable human being.“This was not a fairy-tale castle and there was no such thing as a fairy-tale ending, but sometimes you could threaten to kick the handsome prince in the ham-and-eggs.” As it's becoming common in Pratchett's novels, the ending is not happy but has bittersweet undertones. There is an understanding that it takes a lot to change the world, to change people's beliefs and prejudices, that anything that is won is only a small step on a long road. "And now it wasn't that good things were happening, it was just that bad things had stopped." Pratchett is not reluctant to show that the world's ways of dealing with things that are uncomfortable, that challenge the status quo is to pretend that they never happened, pretend that they are the exception rather than the rule, pretend that ignoring things would make them go away. "We weren't soldiers, she decided. We were girls in uniform. We were like a lucky charm. We were mascots. We weren't real, we were always a symbol of something. We'd done very well, for women. And we were temporary."************************************************This is now one of my favorite Discworld novels. Five stars is not enough to describe how much I loved it. And I adored the little cameos from the other Discworld characters, especially Vimes (I am a true Vimes girl, why'd you ask?)"The enemy wasn't men, or women, or the old, or even the dead. It was just bleedin' stupid people, who came in all varieties. And no one had the right to be stupid."