Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review - Terry Pratchett's The Fifth Elephant

The Fifth Elephant, Discworld Book 24 by Terry Pratchett
Published by: HarperTorch
Publication Date: November 4th, 1999
Format: Paperback, 400 Pages
Challenge: Shifter Challenge 2011
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Samuel Vimes, Watchman extraordinaire, is about to be out of his depths and his comfort zone... again. Lord Vetinari has need of a diplomat up in Uberwald to witness the crowning of the new dwarf king. Samuel is, sadly from his point of view, a Duke, therefore a perfect candidate for this goodwill mission. But Lord Vetinari's schemes are usually far more complex and far more cunningly thought out. If Vimes is to go to Uberwald, there is more to it than Vetinari is saying. He needs Vimes there, not a diplomat. Which means... well, Sam isn't sure what it means, but it could very easily tie in with the unrest of the dwarves in Ankh-Morpork who are brawling left right and center, and the disappearance of a replica of the loaf of dwarven bread that was stolen from a museum recently. Yes, dwarves do take their bread that seriously, especially when this "Stone of Scone" is the seat upon which the new king will be crowed. Taking a full entourage incorporating the ethnic diversity of Ankh-Morpork, from Cherie, the dwarf, to Detritus, the troll, Vimes sets out hubwards, with his wife Sybil viewing it as a second honeymoon, or technically a first, which they never got due to Sam's devotion to his job.

The road is fraught with peril, but a few assassins is nothing to Vimes, he'd be more concerned with whats happening in Ankh-Morpork if he knew his second in command Carrot had quit to search for his girlfriend Angua. His girlfriend who happens to be a werewolf and whose family happen to be quite powerful in Uberwald and will be on hand when Vimes arrives. This leaves Colon in charge, who, in his sudden rise to power, becomes a little despot with no Watch to watch. Back in Uberwald, Vimes has landed in the center of a great political struggle, the dwarves have divided into factions, the old guard versus the new, while the werewolves and the vampires try to tip the scales one way or another in order to gain more control. But even wrongly accused of an assassination attempt and hunted through the woods by Angua's insane brother Wolfie, Sam will make sure justice is served, because that's what his family is known for. Even if you have to cut off the head of the king, justice will be done.

I trully think that Sam Vimes and the City Watch are my second favorite group of people in Discworld. I'm sorry Sam, you are never going to unseat the witches... but your nod to their last story, Carpe Jugulum, with the Igors did make me oh so joyful. Discworld is just insane and funny and has everything from dwarven opera to werewolves that have spent too much time in wolf form and are becoming more and more like dogs. There is just no equal to Terry Pratchett's writing that goes from total absurdity to deep human insights at the drop of a hat. Everything always comes together in the end in an unpredictable way that just makes so much sense and leaves you happy and knowing you've read a great book. I'm also happy that there's still so many more for me to read. I just don't want Discworld to ever end. I hope, if you haven't already, you'll one day join me in the most wonderful of worlds that strides across space on the back of four elephants that ride the great turtle... after all, the Fifth Elephant had a bit of an accident...


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