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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.
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.
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 morePublished on May 8 2010 by Brian Ashe
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 morePublished on June 8 2004 by N E Hetrick
I love Discworld, and 5th Elephant was entertaining, but it doesn't stand out as one of his better books. Read morePublished on March 4 2002 by owookiee
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 morePublished on Feb. 1 2002 by Kevin W. Parker
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 morePublished on Nov. 29 2001 by Emilia Palaveeva
In order to save a kingdom, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Mor-Pork guard must go to Uberwald and unite a broken country. Read morePublished on Nov. 5 2001
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 morePublished on Oct. 28 2001 by Jenny