on June 4, 2015
Pratchett is amazing as always!
on May 8, 2010
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) and Angua just explode onto the stage. (A slow explosion for Vimes, as you might expect) Even for those not weaned on Pratchett (the best-selling English author till Rowling), this novel is fun. Pratchett manages to skewer most of Western civilisation, and much of European mythology at the same time, in his exploration of Uberwald (Transylvania) and its economy. Vimes, of course, has an abiding fear and loathing of vampires, which makes his appointment as envoy to the ruling vampire class of Uberwald most enjoyable. Highly recommended.
on September 14, 2005
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.
on June 8, 2004
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 Black Adder series; he does a lovely job and the novel is, of course, funny and original. However, I must warn you, it is abridged and that does detract from the delight of it. Anyone considering purchasing this might want to instead consider the audio versions of The Wee Free Men or The Night Watch, also available on this website for reasonable prices.
on 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.
on May 13, 2002
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. Carrot enlists the aid of the talking dog, Gaspode, to track her. This plot does end up meeting with the main plot, which is a good thing. Carrot is well portrayed, a combination of innocence, grim determination and genuine (if innocent) caring for Angua. You can see in his actions what he thinks of her, even though he generally can't bring himself to say anything. It's a fairly interesting subplot, especially when it ends up dovetailing with the Vimes plot.
The same can't be said for the second subplot, though. It's clearly there just to give some of the other characters a chore. Sgt. Colon, one of the founding members of the Watch (but by no means the most intelligent), finds himself left in charge with Vimes and Carrot gone. This authority, along with a looming paranoia, start to degrade the Watch. He starts watching everybody with a growing intensity, alienating everybody. This plot has its funny moments and involves some of the other Watch characters (Shoe, the zombie; Visit, the religious fanatic; Nobby, the weird one). However, it can't help but feel like filler. I don't know whether it was intended to add to the page count or if it was supposed to give the other characters something to do. Either way, it feels wasted and tacked on.
Despite that, the book is a great addition to the mythos. It's hilarious, with wonderful character moments (a vampire on AA?) and a great plot. Unlike the previous books, there doesn't appear to be an overall message to the book (Jingo was anti-war, for example), but it doesn't suffer from that. Sometimes, you just have to tell a good story, and this one does. Watching Vimes try to adjust to his new life and mission is worth the price of admission alone. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Detritus, the main troll in the Watch. He is the best character in the series, no matter how much or little he is in it. He doesn't have a very large part in The Fifth Elephant, but he lights up the scene whenever he's in there.
This is a great book. It also stands alone pretty well. While it is certainly better to read them in order, you won't be missing anything if this is the first one. You don't want to miss it.
on May 9, 2002
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
on March 4, 2002
I love Discworld, and 5th Elephant was entertaining, but it doesn't stand out as one of his better books. The giggles are few and far between, and you get the feeling the book carried on for a good fifty pages after what seemed like the true ending.
on February 1, 2002
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.) It features Vimes of the Watch being sent on a diplomatic mission to witness the coronation amongst the dwarves and subsequently to solve a crime with vampires and werewolves about. This seemed to be a livelier and more varied book. Vimes is a fairly interesting character that hasn't been overused yet. And there are some good lines. I seem to remember one about Vimes falling asleep among wolves and awaking, surprised to find he still has his arms and legs-the actual phrasing is a typical Pratchett twist that unfortunately I can't recall.
on November 29, 2001
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 have very "human" traits. Pratchett's novels usually focus on one concept/idea which he disects in a very direct, funny way. The Fifth Elephant is about politics, diplomacy and war. Captain Vimes is sent to Uberwald (the country of the dwarves, werewolves and vampires) for the coronation of the dwarf king. He is supposed to be the ambassador of his city, Ankh-Morpork to make sure that the interests of the city and the Patrician are defended. However, someone is trying to sabotage the coronation by stealing a relic with an enormous symbolic meaning for teh dwarves. Vimes has no choice but to go back to his police work and investigate the "mystery"
In a typical Pratchett style, the novel is hilarious, yet quite serios. While Vimes and the guards are recurring character in his novels, new readers will have no problem picking the story up and enjoying it tremendously. It is a good crime novel as well.
And last but not least, it is full of briliant observations including: "He'd noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: It fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipies and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination--but at the end of the day they'd settle quite happily for egg and chips, if it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato."