Pratchett's _The Fifth Elephant:_ On the nature of diplomacy on the Discworld
Written: Jul 30, 2011 (Updated Mar 24, 2013)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Rollicking good fun, outrageous puns, and more about Igors.
Cons:At times the silliness gets out of hand, but still, great fun.
The Bottom Line: A very good chapter in the ongoing saga of the Discworld, with plenty of puns, hidden jokes and other forms of hilarity.
This year I finally broke down and started to read the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, one of the most popular series of novels in the fantasy genre. And much to my surprise, I have discovered that I like them, even with all of the outrageous humour that usually makes me cringe and chuck a book at the wall.
In this, the twenty-fourth novel in the series, it seems that the city of Ankh-Morpork is going through a crisis. That crisis is centering on the shortage of quality fat. Yep, fat. And the very best fat comes from the Uberwald, where an uneasy detente has been struck between three races -- the vampires, the werewolves and the dwarfs. The city needs to keep those supplies coming in, and the city's benevolent dictator, Lord Vetinari, decides to send in one of his best people.
The problem is, that person doesn't really want to go fix the problem.
Sam Vimes, the head of the City Watch, has a secret that he would much rather keep hidden. Indeed, he's twitchy enough about it that he'd do just about anything to keep it buried. He's also the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, and Lord Vetinari has decided that he would perfect for a diplomatic mission into the city of Bonk (pronounced Be-yonk) to negotiate the fat deal with the new Low King of the dwarfs. Sam also has to settle down the various other factions in the area and keep Ankh-Morporkian interests from getting buried.
Not exactly the sort of thing that Sam enjoys doing. But when Lord Vetinari says 'go,' you go. So with his wife, Sybil, in tow, along with a supercilious clerk named Inigo, a dwarf guard named Cheery Littlebottom, and a strapping big troll, into the mountains goes Sam, his distrust and suspicion growing by the minute.
Turns out that the feuding between two factions among the dwarfs as to who will be the Low King is hitting a fever pitch. One of the problems is that the Scone of Stone has vanished, including the copy, and of course, no Low King would be properly king until he plants his bottom on that Scone. There's a pack of werewolves who are seeking to even the footing, and if a few humans get in the way, well, that's just too bad. And then there's the so-elegant Lady Margolotta, a vampire who seems to know about everything and everyone, but what is she really after?
Sam is hoping that his subordinate, Carrot, can keep the Watch running steady while he's away, and that all will go smoothly. But soon after the diplomatic mission heads off, Carrot finds out that the woman who he has a serious itch for, Angua, has gone tearing off into the Uberwald with a stranger -- a man -- and caught up in the throes of jealousy, Carrot goes running after.
Which leaves a most unsuitable person in charge of the Watch, and things start to go to pieces...
Along the way, we get to learn more about Igors, the troubles of werewolves and vampires, the intrusion of new technology, and the whole issue of gender among the dwarfs. To say that Sam is stepping into a heaping pile of muck is an understatement. There are outrageous puns, the riddle of where's the fifth elephant, and a very engaging riff on the plays of Anton Chekov and other entertaining events.
Those who are fans of the Discworld should enjoy this one, and while at times I found myself rather confused as to some of the subtleties, I quickly found my footing and settled in to enjoy the adventure. While this is a series, it does nicely as a standalone novel.
An excerpt from another Discworld novel, The Thief of Time, is included at the end of this one.
In any case this one is a keeper and earned a very respectable four stars from me.
Many thanks to the Books CL, Dramastef who was able to add this title to the database for me.
Other books in the Discworld series that I've reviewed:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Fifth Elephant -- you are here
The Fifth Elephant: A Discworld Novel
2000; HarperCollins Publishing, Inc.
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