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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 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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on June 7, 2002
The Truth has the honour of being the 25th Discworld book. I haven't read all 25, but I have read a fair number of them, and I'd have to say this one is the best in awhile, even better than The Fifth Elephant.
William de Worde, outcast son of a local rich family in Ankh Morpork, has been regularly supplying (via engraving) a news page to a few select people in the city and the surrounding areas. One day, he is literally run over by the power of the press, in this case allowed to run amok by a group of dwarves. After regaining consciousness, William sees what this press can do and the possibilities it represents to get the news out to people. Imagine, movable type! Thus begins the saga of the Ankh-Morpork Times. William enlists the dwarves, and hires a young lady, Sacharissa Cripslock, to be a reporter. She's got a nose for headlines and is able to use some feminine wiles to get sources to talk to her. He also hires Otto Chriek, a vampire, as a photographer. Poor Otto has a fascination with flash photography, but every time the flash goes off, he becomes a pile of ash and needs help reforming himself.
When Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city, is accused of attempted murder, the City Watch is on the case, followed closely by William. Sometimes, too closely, as Commander Vimes has to deal with not only the crime, but also this new person breathing down his neck and asking questions. William thinks the public has a right to know what is going on. As the investigation continues, things get hotter and hotter for William, as he finds out that the search for the Truth isn't always a safe one.
There are so many things that make this book stand out. The first is the character of William. He's a crusader, a second son of a rich family. In Ankh-Morpork, only first sons ever really do anything. Subsequent sons are expected to go to school, graduate, and stay out of the way. William doesn't do that, but instead wants to make a name for himself. He hardly ever lies and has a deep respect for the truth, which is why he's so dedicated in this book. He's a wonderful straight man, reacting to some of the absurd events that are surrounding him as if they're not absurd.
Probably the best character, though, is Otto. He is so earnest in his profession, but he also has the funniest lines and situations. You would think that the repetition of "Flash! Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh!" would get boring after awhile, but it doesn't. The situations that it happens in are so varied that it never gets old. He's a very dedicated photographer, innovative (he is able to invent colour photography) and very loyal to William. He's also "on the wagon," which means that he doesn't drink human blood anymore. One of the funniest scenes in the book is when he's tempted (completely innocently and in a stressful situation) by Sacharissa.
One of the more interesting aspects of this book, at least for long-time Discworld readers, is the City Watch. This is the first book (or at least the first I've read) where the Watch is featured very heavily, but it's not *about* the Watch. There are only two or three scenes that are from the viewpoint of somebody who's in the Watch. Thus, you get to see them as outsiders see them. You see the strangeness that can happen without seeing the inherent reasoning behind it, and that is refreshing. Vimes is the same as he always has been, but his reactions to William and this new idea of somebody actually trying to tell people what is truly going on are simply hilarious. He doesn't like it and he doesn't react well to it.
The book mirrors the rise of newspapers very well, even down to the creation of tabloids (Mayor Stolen by Aliens!). Of course, the whole thing is condensed into a few weeks (and one investigative story), but it's still a nice parallel. Pratchett goes all out, showing not only the virtues of a free press, but also some of the faults. Most importantly, though, it shows the various reactions to this new medium: some fear it, some welcome it, some will take advantage of it (like the guy with the funny vegetables who wants them in the paper every day). Just like real life, only funnier.
This book is definitely worth a read. It doesn't matter if this is your first Discworld book or your 25th, you'll love it.
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on June 7, 2002
The twenty-fifth discworld novel delves into that quagmire that is freedom of the press - although William de Worde (our protagonist) stumbles into each precept on his way to bringing Ankh-Morpork's first broadsheet to life with its serious news, obituaries and humorous funny vegetable columns.
The usual Ankh cast turn up in supporting roles, from the Watch to Foule Ole Ron in a seamlessly blended parody that makes Pratchett unique.
This installment has a disgruntled shadowy set of powerful men hiring Mr Pin and Mr Tulip through the zombie lawyer (Mr Slant) to effectively disgrace Lord Vetinari.
As is such with these carefully laid plans, they go slightly awry with Lord Vetinari's dog, Wuffles, surviving as a witness. This means William de Worde, ably accompanied by the reformed vampire, Otto de Chriek, Sacharissa and his printing gang searching for the Truth to free Lord Vetinari from disgrace.
A brilliant journalistic parody, Pratchett brings together a lot of previous Discworld novel themes and character types back to Ankh-Morpork and shows us a glimpse of the reality of both the city and its inhabitants away from the usual magic that permeates both.
Whilst nothing has yet beaten Reaper Man or Carpe Jugulum, this must rank in the top 5 Discworld novels.
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on May 20, 2002
This is another terrific Discworld book. I loved the new characters and I enjoyed watching Ankh-Morpork assimilate this new cast into the city. The meandering plot about the rise of two competing newspapers and a conspiracy to depose the Patrician was a great set-up for the new characters. And this doesn't even begin to describe the details of the plot - featuring the dangers of a vampire who experiments with dark light, a parody of the Watergate Investigations, the comic team of the killers Mr. Pim and Mr. Tulip, the estranged relationship between William de Worde and his Father, and on and on. I thought William de Worde was a fine protagonist - and Otto Chriek was marvellous. I look forward to them as minor characters in future books - just as the Watch were minor characters in this book. Plus, Pratchett's philosophical musings were hilarious, and The Truth, as usual: "This is a newspaper, isn't it? It just has to be true until tomorrow."
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on May 9, 2002
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 snake' 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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Any journalist should appreciate this book. So should anyone else! As in all his novels, it's not just the cleverness, the funny, its the TRUTH, the pointed satire that makes Terry Pratchett an international treasure.
This book is about writing, business, racism, love, thuggery, and politics. Or if that's too intimidating, its about lots of sexual innuendo that involves little little men and the size of their...umm...bankrolls, and humorously shaped vegetables.
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on April 6, 2002
This is the twenty-fifth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld--a flat world, supported on the back of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle, anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does. When William de Worde stumbles upon a group of dwarves setting up their new invention (a printing-press with movable type), he suddenly finds his little newsletter transformed into a giant, mass-market newspaper. But, when the Patrician of Anhk-Morpork is accused of murder, and the city goes up in an uproar, Mr. de Worde suddenly finds himself at ground zero. Strange things are happening, and Mr. de Worde finds that he has a master whom he must serve--the truth!
As always, Terry Pratchett is the master of telling a gripping story, where at time two and more storylines are running simultaneously, all without causing the least bafflement to the reader. I loved the characters, including a vampire on the wagon, a very serious zombie, several homicidal maniacs, Samuel Vimes, a load of armed and dangerous dwarves, and a secret informant known as...Deep Bone. This is another great Pratchett book, one that I recommend wholeheartedly.
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