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Moist Von Lipwig

This Who's Who was originally featured in Issue 123 - July 2007

When we first meet Moist Von Lipwig he is trying to escape from a prison cell on the day before his execution. Moist, using the pseudonym of Albert Spangler, manages to free a rock in the side of his cell using a spoon only to find a new spoon and another wall hidden behind (demonstrating Vetinari's sense of humour). Moist is then taken to the gallows at dawn to be hung. Just before he is hung a messenger barges through the crowd with a message from Lord Vetinari. Moist hopes this will be his stay of execution but the messenger simply states 'get on with it, it's long past dawn!'. So then Albert Spangler is hung.

Moist starts to do the right thing, often though for the wrong reasons.

When Moist wakes up he is visited by an unlikely angel in the shape of Lord Vetinari who makes Moist a simple offer either run the post office or die. Considering his options Moist agrees to take the job.

Moist Von Lipwig is instantly forgettable (not that his is a badly written character, it's just that his looks are totally unremarkable). Moist uses this instant "forget-ability" to help him to con people or businesses out of large sums of money. It makes him the perfect conman.

Moist doesn't feel that he ever does anybody any harm but as his Golem Mr Pump explains "I Worked It Out. You Have Killed Two Point Three Three Eight People". Mr Pump justifies this by explaining that through his actions Moist has hastened the people he has conned towards their deaths.

This should make Moist a thoroughly dislikeable character but for some reason he is very readable. I think that through his actions (however selfish they may be) we begin to see him as a bit of a rough diamond. Almost unable to prevent himself, Moist starts to do the right thing, often though for the wrong reasons.

Moist manages to put the skills he developed as a conman to good use. For example his ability to forge documents lead him to be able to design the stamps that effectively save the post office and that are also very hard to forge.

I think for me the most interesting thing about Moist is how comparable he is to William De Worde. Both men are for various reasons striving to be better people than their situations have left them in; William through breeding and Moist through career choice. Also the comparison between Moist and William goes further because both have managed to introduce a change in both the people around them and society as a whole. Ankh Morpork was permanently changed when William invented the News Paper and Moist rebuilt the Post Office.

Originally Moist was only going to be the hero of one Discworld novel, but we now know that Moist will return this year in Making Money and may even have a third outing some time in the future in Raising Taxes.

Moist has for me become one of the most charismatic characters of recent books and one that I look forward to reading more about in the future.