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4.6 out of 5 stars28
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on October 6, 2015
Terry Pratchett's unique wit and insight. Truer words were never written. I recommend this and all of the Discworld books to anyone who enjoys insightful stories which reveal something of ourselves.
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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."
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on September 1, 2005
And William de Worde sets out to become the very finest nuisance that Ankh-Morpork ever knew. You know it's true, because you read it in the newspaper. The paper that he writes.
This whole book is a tangled story of who is in power, and who wants it, and wouldn't touch it with somebody else's stick. There are good guys, bad guys, and misunderstood guys - but people cross lines in a heartbeat. (Well, not all of them actually have heartbeats, and some of the heartbeats get beaten heartily, but you know what I mean.)
This is standard Pratchett goofiness, but that is a very high standard. He builds his story around a few new characters, but builds it within the framework of the established characters. The current book refers to all the previous ones, but welcomes the new reader anyway.
This is high-grade silliness. It's one more very enjoyable chapter in the Discworld's ongoing saga, but also a good story without all the others. For me, another Discworld book is almost a little vacation.
//wiredweird
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on June 27, 2004
Terry Pratchett Discworld novels are always a great and funny read. This one, though very funny at times - Otto the vampire who dies everytime he takes a photo, was great - on the whole I found it a fairly forgettable book. Nothing really new in the plot and some of the more difficult situations that the characters found themselves in seemed to have been gotten out of too easily, with no real suspense.
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on June 3, 2004
There is always a certain joy in reading any Pratchett book which features familiar places and faces. This book is consistent in style and content with most of his other Discworld novels.
However, at the end of my second reading of this book, there were no particular jokes or paragraphs that I felt like re-reading. Nothing really memorable. As always, there was a large dollop of pop-philosophy, which in some of his books is more amusing/interesting than in this one (c.f. Small Gods, for example).
The introduction of "dark light" to the story seemed to be superficially thought out and unnecessary to the story, adding neither plot nor humour (or "humor" for american readers) nor depth to the reader's understanding of the Discworld.
However, as can always be relied upon, there were some new and unusual characters to enjoy (the vampire who is enthralled with flash iconography) and enough of a plot to retain my interest.
Many of Mr Pratchett's books would get an enthusiastic 5 stars from me; this one barely achieved 4.
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William de Worde's at loose ends. Scion of a Discworld aristocratic family, he's disdained both their money and their lifestyle. Drifting into the city of Ankh-Morpork, he needs employment. Since he's neither a Thief nor an Assassin, let alone a Seamstress [hem! hem!], he must find employment. Inevitably, it must have to do with words. Not a spy nor a gossip, he generates a newssheet for selected clients - the aristocrats known through his family connections. An encounter with a runaway machine ["Stop the press!"] on the street launches him into a new career. Pratchett's account of de Worde's subsequent history is his finest work. He draws on his own ancient stint as a journalist to provide a story both entertaining and insightful.
There's a rumour about that the dwarfs have learned to turn lead into gold. The printing press is unknown in Ankh-Morpork. The unknown is always fearful, but the dwarfs lust for gold overrides silly superstition. They have a press and only require words to apply their magic transmutation. William, initially reluctant, is there as the catalyst. All he needs is input and it arrives with ferocious intensity.
There has been a crime - always the best news. The Patrician [City Manager], Lord Vetinari, has assaulted his secretary and attempted to abscond with heavy monies. This event brings out the City Watch in the guise of its Commander, Sam Vimes. Most crimes are clear-cut, but this one seems meaningless. We learn a plot's afoot, possibly perpetrated by two strangers in the city. Mr Pim, dedicated and articulate, is accompanied by Mr Tulip, a man of chemical affinities whose language skills are indeterminate. A man whose words are mostly "---" remains difficult to comprehend. As strangers, these two become gradually aware of the forces Ankh-Morpork can unleash.
One of the leashed forces is Gaspode. A scruffy, nondescript canine, Gaspode resides at the end of a piecemeal string borne by Foul Ol' Ron. Ron, whose command of language is more limited than even Mr Tulip's, is a derelict. He and his unsociable companions, however, become the purveyors of Worde's words. That puts them in ideal places to observe. They become almost reporters for The Ankh-Morpork Times. Solving the mystery of Vetinari's assault, plus keeping the Times afloat against competition, plus . . . Well, there's a great deal to this story. No writer matches Pratchett's skill at keeping the reader moving through a book. At the same time, there are necessary pauses for reflection at his revelations. In a word, this book is "priceless"! [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
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on February 5, 2004
When dwarves smuggle a printing press into Ankh-Morpork, the citizens don't know what to make of it at first. They figure the dwarves are up to their old trick of turning lead into gold. The "Ankh-Morpork Times" ('the truth shall make you fred') is born almost by accident and soon it has a rival in the "Inquirer," which publishes stories like 'Woman gives birth to Mountain Bongo' and 'Elvis ate my gerbil.'
"The Truth" is a strongly plotted fantasy with serious messages about freedom of the press and ethical journalism. Of course, you're going to have to chuck your sanity out the window when reading one of Pratchett's Discworld books, most especially this one. It might be a good idea to chuck your theology, too. Who knows? If the Universe is infinite, maybe there is a Disc-shaped world somewhere, supported by four elephants on top of a turtle. Maybe their lawyers really are zombies (some excellent characterization here), and the "Ankh-Morpork Times" really has a teetotalling vampire as its press photographer---a vampire who turns to dust every time his flash goes off, and has to be revived with a piece of blutwürst, a bit of dog meat, a drop of blood---whatever is at hand. Hopefully not blood since our Vampire, Otto has given up the b-word.
There is also a pair of very nasty villains named Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, who assume the disguises of Brother Upon-Which-the-Angels-Dance Pin and Sister Jennifer of The Little Flowers of Perpetual Annoyance in order to pursue a dog who might blab out what really happened on the morning when Ankh-Morpork's First Patrician was kidnapped by said villains.
(Apology to readers: Pratchett really does induce long, complicated sentences from reviewers trying to describe his plots).
So, forget the plot. Read this book because it's hysterically funny and because you can be the first to entertain your friends with songs from the Vampires' Temperance Union.
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on January 15, 2004
When dwarves smuggle a printing press into Ankh-Morpork, the citizens don't know what to make of it at first. They figure the dwarves are up to their old trick of turning lead into gold. The "Ankh-Morpork Times" ('the truth shall make you fred') is born almost by accident and soon it has a rival in the "Inquirer," which publishes stories like 'Woman gives birth to codfish' and 'Elvis ate my gerbil.'
"The Truth" is a strongly plotted fantasy with serious messages about freedom of the press and ethical journalism. Of course, you're going to have to chuck your sanity out the window when reading one of Pratchett's Discworld books, most especially this one. It might be a good idea to chuck your theology, too. Who knows? If the Universe is infinite, maybe there is a Disc-shaped world somewhere, supported by four elephants on top of a turtle. Maybe their lawyers really are zombies (some excellent characterization here), and the "Ankh-Morpork Times" really has a teetotalling vampire as its press photographer---a vampire who turns to dust every time his flash goes off, and has to be revived with a piece of blutwürst, a bit of dog meat, a drop of blood---whatever is at hand. Hopefully not blood since our Vampire, Otto has given up the b-word.
There is also a pair of very nasty villains named Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, who assume the disguises of Brother Upon-Which-the-Angels-Dance Pin and Sister Jennifer of The Little Flowers of Perpetual Annoyance in order to pursue a dog who might blab out what really happened on the morning when Ankh-Morpork's First Patrician was kidnapped by said villains.
(Apology to readers: Pratchett really does induce long, complicated sentences from reviewers who are trying to describe his plots).
So, forget the plot. Read this book because it's hysterically funny and because you can be the first to entertain your friends with songs from the Vampires' Temperance Union.
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on November 20, 2002
2 stars only as compared to the rest of Pratchett's novels. As a general book, I'd give it at least 3.5.
This book had something missing. Some of it was amusing, secondary characters such as Otto the recovering vampire were funny and we got to see cameos by Watch members and some of the Wizards, but it left me feeling pretty flat. This was made all the more noticeable by the fact that I read this directly after the Fifth Elephant, which has to be my favorite Discworld book.
Of course, this is purely a subjective review. To make it clearer where I am coming from on this: I like Pratchett's later books much better than his earlier ones, and as for his cast of characters, I love the ones in the Watch books and find myself bored by those in the Witches' books.
Some of the problems with the book were:
1. The villains. Neither scary nor original nor amusing. And the "-ing" got VERY tiresome after a while.
2. The plot: there are two many missing holes in the story, giving you the feeling that you've skipped something.
3. Most important: the lack of truly interesting characters. The reason I like the Watch books the best is because the characters in those books fascinate me. When I read a book, even a funny one, I want to care if a (semi)-main character will be in danger, even if it's only out of curiousity as to what facets of his/her personality I might have not yet discovered or in worry of losing comic relief. Well, Otto was welcome to dine on the whole staff of the newspaper as far as I was concerned.
Sacarissa and William were were flat characters. They did not amuse me, they did not intrigue me, and they certainly did not inspire me with a deep affection for them. The problem was made all the stronger because there were cameos by the characters I certainly wanted to read about (e.g. Vimes. Carrot, Angua, the Patrician, Nobby and Colon, and even Bursar and ArchChancellor), and yet the whole book was about those two boring, bland and (in William's case) even grating characters. I kept wanting to switch into the Watch House to see how the investigation was going, or go to the Unseen University, or even to hang out more with Gaspode under the bridge.
4. William: a big problem. I think this was a love it or hate it character, and I found that he intensely annoyed me. Maybe because a journalist as champion of truth, or milquetoast makes good, or sensitive boy frees himself from a tyrannical father are all such cliches (and are taken seriously in this book), or maybe it was his overall personality which failed to interest me even once over 300 pages, or his lack of charisma. I don't know what it was, but when Vimes had him temporarily locked-up, I wanted him to stay there.
I like Pratchett's later books better because all along with great humor they have well developed plots, intriguing characters, and even some serious issues. This book does not score high for any of those.
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on July 24, 2002
This is my all-time favourite Disk World book. Terry makes the reader look at the newspaper business in a totally new light. It certainly made me think a few times. And it also, most certainly, made me laugh!
Terry Pratchett is only only author who has ever made me laugh out load (even in public!)
Otto. I'll never forget Otto's first picture.....
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