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The Fifth Elephant

Terry Pratchett

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (3 Reviews)
Book Details

Publisher : Doubleday

Published : 1999

Copyright : Terry & Lyn Pratchett 1999

ISBN-10 : HB 0-385-40995-8
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-385-40995-7

Publisher's Write-Up

Sam Vimes is a man on the run. Yesterday he was a duke, a chief of police and the ambassador to the mysterious, fat-rich country of Uberwald.

Now he has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don't ask). It's snowing. It's freezing. And if he can't make it through the forest to civilization there's going to be a terrible war.

But there are monsters on his trail. They're bright. They're fast. They're werewolves and they're catching up. Sam Vimes is out of time, out of luck and already out of breath...

The Fifth Elephant Terry Pratchett's latest instalment in the Discworld cycle, this time starring dwarfs, diplomacy, intrigue and big lumps of fat.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (011101) Rating (8/10)
Review by Vex (310301) Rating (7/10)
Review by Nigel (270500) Rating (6/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 8/10
The Fifth Elephant is a watch novel - not really set in Ankh Morpork, but a Watch novel nonetheless. What I didn't realise before I started it was that I'd read it before; you know that sensation when you think that something seems familiar? Well, I thought that I had it at the start of the book, but sometimes it,s because Nigel has been reading bits to me (he does that...)

Anyway, a copy of a Dwarfish artifact called that Scone of Stone has been stolen from a museum in Ankh Morpork, and Vimes starts to investigate, with Carrot's help, of course, to ensure the co-operation of the dwarfish community. What he finds is that dwarfish kings at their coronation sit upon the original Scone of Stone. The reason for this is that the scone contains a grain of truth, not just a simile but a proper grain of that rare element called Truth.

This all takes on a bit more importance when Vetinari sends Vimes in his Duke of Ankh Morpork persona to Uberwald, to witness the crowning of the new Low King, the new King of the Dwarves. He is not particularly happy but as the investigation can be continued in Ankh Morpork by Carrot, he has no real excuse for refusing to go - the fact that he will have to wear his full ceremonial regalia is not regarded as an excuse. As part of his retinue, to represent the true multi cultural nature of Ankh Morpork, he takes Cheery (a dwarf) and Detritus (a troll (trolls, incidentally are at war with dwarves, but those in Ankh Morpork get along OK most of the time...)).

The plot gets yet more complicated when, after the departure of Vimes plus retinue to the Uberwald, Angua goes missing, so Carrot hands in his resignation to go and find her, taking Gaspode with him to act as interpreter. This results in Vetinari doing the unthinkable, promoting Sergeant Fred Colon to Captain to be the head of the watch!

This is an excellent but quite complicated story. The Watch are developing into a modern law enforcement service, dealing with traffic calming measures and muggings, both of which are in a thoroughly Discworld manner. We meet a new type of assassin, a combination of spy and diplomat but with the capability of an assassin, should the need arise.

In Uberwald, we see once again, the family of Igor, who are just so wonderful, they make me smile, the environmentally conscious nature by which they recycle body parts, thinking that they can be of use to someone else, and besides, it is such a gross thought, buried under the ground, after all, if the brain is perfectly good, there is nothing that a jolt of electricity cannot cure, is there not?

You know that I love the Watch, along with the Witches, they are the best of Pratchett's creations, and this one is no exception. It works on so many levels, there are politics, traditions and modern thinking coming under the eye of Mr Pratchett, all dissected for our consideration, and he just provides us with a nudge, to get you thinking, that maybe something is not quite as simple as it seems.

Agatha Christie would have been hard pushed to come up with such an ingenious plot as this one. Even if you think that you don't like Science Fantasy as a genre, this one is well worth a read, you would love the Igors, anyway...
Chrissi (1st November 2001)

Review by Vex
Rating 7/10
It has been a while since I've really enjoyed a Terry Pratchett book, not that the last couple have been bad in any way, but I have found them to be a little stale. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this particular one!

It has to be said that my favourite discworld character is Death, along with Mort, and then good old Rincewind (closely followed by.. Oh, Nige's done that joke.. :). Although I'm growing increasingly fond of the city guard mob.. and this book just happens to be about them...

I don't know why exactly, but Mr. Pratchett seemed to be on top form with this novel. It tells the story of Uberwald, the mysterious world of werewolves, vampires and dwarfs (not your usual city dwarfs but real underground working dwarfs..) and the missing scone of stone.

The story is good, there's plenty of one liners and lots of new characters (especially the Igors!). What more could you ask for?
Vex (31st March 2001)

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Review by Nigel
Rating 6/10
This is an pretty average Discworld novel (the 24th). If you follow the Discworld series you tend to have your favourite characters and mine are Death and Rincewind (closely followed by the luggage:)

This instalment sees Sam Vimes in a spot of bother and Fred Colon gets left in charge as Captain of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch (doh!). As you can imagine it all goes horribly wrong. The chase scenes with Vimes and the werewolves, along with Carrot and his dealings with the green monster Jealousy, are some of the best bits, with the typically Pratchett one liners scattered throughout.

In summary not the best but certainly not the worst Discworld novel to date.
Nigel (27th March 2000)

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