Terry Pratchett is one of the rare few authors who can progress a series without tiring his subject matter or his invented universe. This is outing twenty-five, and Discworld is as fun as ever -- maybe even more so. It's a world of vampires, hard-nosed cops, incredibly cynical politicians, and idealistic li'l newspapermen.
William de Worde, a member of the elite (read: snotty) classes, wants to start a newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times, using printing presses with movable type and employing dwarves. Soon he has also gained a skilfull but very ladylike reporter named Sacharissa, and a photographer vampire named Otto. Their news remains fairly dull (except for "funny" vegetables) until the Patrician is accused of murder.
The problem is that William wants to tell the people the Truth -- which gets him enemies, fast. The Times soon has competition from a tabloid; William and his staff are being targeted by a pair of hit men, including Mr. Tulip, who is a strong-arm psychopath with very fine sensibilities and a very dirty vocabulary. With the help of the Watch, and the Truth on their side, William and his friends unravel the mystery to find out who committed the murder, and who wants the presses stopped for good.
It's really, really hard to write a good satire. Really ----ing hard, as Mr. Tulip would put it. And when it's about something like freedom of the press, truth and journalism, it has the potential to be hideously dull. Fortunately Terry Pratchett's light dialogue and fun characters keep "The Truth" afloat.
Despite more than two-dozen books, Pratchett does a good job with the absurdities of reporting, running a paper, and dealing with less-than-pleasant locals. But he also wraps all this humour around a solid murder mystery, where motives are abundant and suspects are few. And Pratchett is one of the few authors who opts for bleeped out dialogue. ----ing funny.
William is a nice if rather passive hero, but the real scene-stealer is Otto. Not only is he lovably eccentric, but he gets the best scenes, like when the camera flash causes him to totter around screaming ("AAAARGH!"), or burn up into a little pile of ashes ("Oohhhhhbbugggerrr!"). Pratchett has created a lot of memorable characters, but few as lovable as Otto. And backing the cast is a gang of dwarves who are gritty, gruff and occasionally engage in singalongs.
The Discworld series is still going strong in its mid-twentieth volume, and Pratchett still has a knack for funny dialogue and lovable characters. Believe me, that's "The Truth."