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The Fifth Elephant: A Discworld Novel [Library Binding]

Terry Pratchett
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 31 2008
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that mastering it is a lifetime's work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It's not something you can just pick up on the job. Which is a shame if you find yourself dropped unaccountably into a position of some significant diplomatic responsibility. If you don't really do diplomacy or haven't been to school with the right foreign bigwigs or aren't even sure whether a nod is as good as a wink to anyone, sighted or otherwise, then things are likely to go wrong. It's just a question of how badly...

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From Amazon

Terry Pratchett has a seemingly endless capacity for generating inventively comic novels about the Discworld and its inhabitants, but there is in the hearts of most of his admirers a particular place for those novels that feature the hard-bitten captain of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, Samuel Vimes. Sent as ambassador to the Northern principality of Uberwald where they mine gold, iron, and fat--but never silver--he is caught up in an uneasy truce between dwarfs, werewolves, and vampires in the theft of the Scone of Stone (a particularly important piece of dwarf bread) and in the old werewolf custom of giving humans a short start in the hunt and then cheating.

Pratchett is always at his best when the comedy is combined with a real sense of jeopardy that even favorite characters might be hurt if there was a good joke in it. As always, the most unlikely things crop up as the subjects of gags--Chekhov, grand opera, the Caine Mutiny--and as always there are remorselessly funny gags about the inevitability of story:

They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.

No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical question: when millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, and there is no one to hear it, does it--philosophically speaking--make a noise?

As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it.

All this, the usual guest appearances, and Gaspode the Wonder Dog. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Acclaimed British author Pratchett continues to distinguish himself from his colleagues with clever plot lines and genuinely likable characters in this first-rate addition to his long-running Discworld fantasy series (Carpe Jugulum, etc.). This time around, the inhabitants of Discworld's Ankh-Morpork have turned their attentions in the direction of Uberwald--a country rich in valuable minerals and high-quality fat deposits. (The fifth elephant, it seems, left all these when he or she crashed and burned in Uberwald at the beginning of time.) Ankh-Morpork's policeman Sam Vimes has been sent there to represent his people at a coronation--and to find the recently stolen, rock-hard and symbolically important (at least to the Dwarf population) Scone of Stone. As he tells Vimes's story (and surrounding ones), Pratchett cheerfully takes readers on an exuberant tale of mystery and invention, including the efforts of a clique of neo-Nazi werewolves to destabilize Uberwald. Along the way, he skewers everything from monarchy to fascism, as well as communism and capitalism, oil wealth and ethnic identities, Russian plays, immigration, condoms and evangelical Christianity--in short, most everything worth talking about. Not as perfect as Pratchett's Hogfather but in the same class, this novel is a heavyweight of lightness. 200,000 ad/promo; 7-city author tour. (Apr.) FYI: At the end of The Fifth Elephant is appended a "handy travel guide" to the "World of Terry Pratchett," including a character guide to the Discworld novels and a Discworld crossword puzzle.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A lot to like Sept. 14 2005
Format:Paperback
The Discworld and its denizens keep moving forward.
In particular, the much-reviled police captain Vimes and the much-honored Duke Vimes move forward. I mean, like a glacier moves forward. Not the fastest one around, I won't even warn you to get out of his way. Glacier-like, it wouldn't matter. Go ahead, get in his way - he might even notice. Probably not.
This time, in his ducal capacity, he has been appointed to an ambassadorship by Lord Vetinari. Vetinari is not a bad man (by local standards, at least) and doesn't do bad things (again, by local standards). Pray that you're nowhere near when he attempts something good. It might be like lighting a candle in the darkness, with you as the match.
Or it might be like lighting the fuze on the powder-keg. Vimes isn't much the candle type. Around him are many people. There's his finishing-school wife who can finish off dwarves and lots of others, six against one, in unarmed debate. There's Officer Angua of the city watch. A very capable woman but watch out for her "monthlies". You know, new moon, howling over the heath, and and all that were-sort-of-thing. Then ... well, Angua is the predictable one. There are lots of others who aren't.
This is a long-running series with lots of character development in previous volumes. Pratchett is uncommonly well tuned to the newcomer, though. Even if the writer knows the two-dozen stories before this one (and a dozen-squared he never wrote), this story still stands well on its own. The newcomer may as well start here as anywhere. The tone is a bit more serious and less haha than most of the Discworld series, but it fits well.
Enjoy!
//wiredweird
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quite Possibly the Best of Discworld June 19 2003
For those of you who aren't familiar with Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, you have been missing quite a bit. Not only has he managed to keep the humor and overall quality of his writing at a high level through the years, but he manages to get a new book out every eight months or so. A big plus if you follow his work.
The Fifth Elephant is part the "Watch" series within the Discworld collection. It follows the exploits of Commander Vimes(recently promoted to Duke), Captain Carrot, and the rest of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. This book is the follow-up to "Jingo", and Vimes is currently adjusting to his new role as a nobleman in the city. One of his newly appointed duties is to travel to the neighboring land of Uberwald, where the dwarves are about to crown a new king. Vimes reluctantly agrees to go, despite his general loathing for the nobility in general. The ironic part being that he is now a part of that same nobility, which is a constant source of irritation for him, and a source of amusement for the reader. Of course, this being a Pratchett book, nothing goes according to plan and Vimes finds himself thwarting an assassination plot and uncovering a conspiracy among the dwarf and vampire clans in addition to being forced to "rub elbows" with the werewolves, vampires, and dwarfs of Uberwald.
This is one of the rare books you will read that is as funny as it is well written. For those of you collecting the series, this falls between Jingo and Night Watch and is my personal favorite of the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Political Disc May 13 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The Fifth Elephant is the latest Discworld book that features the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork, a city on the Disc. The City Watch books have always been my favourite Discworld books, mainly because of the characters. There's the wonderful character of Vimes, who is head of the Watch. He's cynical but fair-minded, always thinking the worst of things, but doing his best to make the city the best it can be. Then there's Captain Carrot, a human who was raised by dwarfs and considers himself one. Even the incidental characters have wonderful moments. This fifth book in the series is probably the best since the original, "Guards, Guards." It was wonderfully funny with lots of good character bits.
In this book, Commander Vimes (a recent addition to the nobility of the city) is sent to attend the coronation of the new Dwarf "King." Vimes is new to all of this "politics" stuff, as he generally sees himself as a cop first, and a good one. He feels out of his element in this new political arena. Of course, that's why the head of the city, Patrician Vetinari, has sent him on this mission. In going to this coronation, Vimes stumbles upon a plot between a family of werewolves and some of the dwarfs who don't quite like the way society is being liberalized (i.e. dwarfs actually showing that they're female by wearing dresses and jewelry, dwarfs going to the city of Ankh-Morpork to find better lives, etc). They plan to disrupt the coronation, and Vimes finds himself having to stop them.
There are two sub plots in the book, one related, and one seeming to be there just to give some characters something to do. The first one involves Carrot and his girl-wolf, Angua. Angua was supposed to go on this mission with Vimes, but she has disappeared.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Good book with excelent re-readability May 9 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've owned this book for a while and I recently re-discovered it on my bookshelf and I just could not put it down till I'd re-read it. I certainly think the book deserves a re-read or two.
This is a great Discworld book full of details of discworld.
The watch is back. Trouble in the Uberwald sends Vimes, Cherry and Detritus to the coronation of the new Dwarf King. Meanwhile Carrot and Agnes are having some problems, which leaves Sergeant Colon next in line for promotion to head of the watch....
This is a great story, full of humor, politics and plot twists. So easy to read I picked up the book and I read it without putting it down. It has more of a political tone compared with the watches last outing (Jingo), which was more of an adventure. The fifth elephant expands the disk word by padding out the dwarfs and giving incite to the Uberwald (expect more books from the Uberwald)
It's a good book if your just coming into the disk world books and a Great book if your following the disk world series
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Vimes as Diplomat
Oh, I do love Terry Pratchett. This is one of his best, much more on the lines of political satire than outright fun, but the main characters of Captain Samuel Vimes (now a duke)... Read more
Published on May 8 2010 by Brian Ashe
3.0 out of 5 stars Affectionate Warning
I love Terry Pratchett novels and even more than that, I love having the chance to listen to them. This cassette edition is narrated by Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in the... Read more
Published on June 8 2004 by N E Hetrick
3.0 out of 5 stars Not all that
I love Discworld, and 5th Elephant was entertaining, but it doesn't stand out as one of his better books. Read more
Published on March 4 2002 by owookiee
4.0 out of 5 stars A return to form in the Discworld series
Better than Carpe Jugulum, which I read at the same time. (It at least has many more footnotes, which is a sign of quality in any Discworld book. Read more
Published on Feb. 1 2002 by Kevin W. Parker
5.0 out of 5 stars It is very Pratchetty
The Fifth Elephant is Practhett at his best. For the uninitiated, the Discworld is a fantasy world, inhabited by all sorts of creatures--dwarfs, vampires, humans, etc, which all... Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2001 by Emilia Palaveeva
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fifth Elephant
In order to save a kingdom, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Mor-Pork guard must go to Uberwald and unite a broken country. Read more
Published on Nov. 5 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the Best!
This book is the best Terry Pratchett book yet! It is realy funny, it has a really good mix of Sherlok Holmes, Lord of the Rings and a huge dollop of humor. Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2001 by Jenny
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Masks of Lies Lie the Truth
The aford mention title of this review is probably the the closest analogy to Terry Pratchett's "The Fifth Eleplant". Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2001 by Anh Nguyen
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the Masks of Lies Lie the Truth
The aford mention title of this review is probably the the closest analogy to Terry Pratchett's "The Fifth Eleplant". Read more
Published on Oct. 16 2001 by Anh Nguyen
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