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  • Jingo
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on June 19, 2017
I loved this book which I missed as I read my way through the Discworld series

It showed Vimes, Nobby and Colon off in a great way with Angua, Carrot, Vetinari band Lady Sybil lending their weight to the action.

Loved the Boat!!
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on March 15, 2002
Jingo is yet another book that takes place in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. It's the fourth book to feature the City Watch, which is the police force of Ankh-Morpork, a city on the Disc. It's also one of the best. The City Watch, in its initial incarnation, was an homage to those no-name soldiers, troopers and other various cannon-fodder that inhabit adventure and sci-fi movies. They're usually hapless, the hero runs right over them, and their survival rate is fairly low. Originally, it consisted of three people, Samuel Vimes, Nobby Nobs, and Sergeant Colon.
This was until Carrot joined. Carrot is a human who was raised by dwarves, thus he considers himself a dwarf. He's the ultimate innocent, but yet he has a way of getting people to listen to him and follow him. By the time of Jingo, he's been raised to Captain (no comic book jokes, please). This all happened in the first City Watch book, Guards Guards. In subsequent books, the Watch has grown almost exponentially. It now has over 50 members, with more joining all the time. In fact, Jingo jokes a couple of times about how Vimes, the commander of the Watch, doesn't know that somebody's joined. It's very common for him to say "Who's that?" and be told that he signed the paperwork.
Jingo involves an island that has suddenly appeared between Ankh-Morpork and the land of Klatch. Klatch is based on the Arab countries of our world, and there are quite a few jokes about how something that was supposedly invented in Ankh-Morpork has been used in Klatch for years. The people of Ankh-Morpork have a lot of the same stereotypes of Klatchians as exist in the real world about Arabs as well. Pratchett goes to great lengths to show just how stupid this is. He portrays the actual Klatchians very well, with no actual stereotypes that I saw.
Anyway, both Ankh-Morpork and Klatch lay claim to this island, and thus talk of war begins. There's an attempt on the life of a Klatchian prince and other sorts of violence start to break out in the city. Samuel Vimes is trying to deal with all of this. He's a simple cop who just wants to solve crimes, but sometimes the crimes are too big for one man to solve. Events start to spiral out of control and Vimes and some of his troops find themselves in Klatch trying to stop things before the war gets out of hand.
There are so many wonderful characters in these City Watch books, and this one even adds some more. The main new character is 71-hour Ahmed, a Klatchian who's more than what he seems. Vimes has to deal with him a lot, and while he starts out seeming stereotypical, but he eventually develops into a well-rounded character. There's Reg Shoe, who I understand is introduced in a non-City Watch book, but becomes a member of the Watch in this book. He's a zombie. Then there are the regulars, such as Carrot, Detritus (a troll), Constable Visit, Colon, Nobs, the Patrician (who, uncharacteristically, takes an active role in events after he's deposed from power), and finally Vimes himself. There are just too many of them to describe them all, but they all have their hilarious moments.
Vimes is who the books are essentially about, and he gets the most character development. He used to be a drunk who barely got by, and didn't have to do anything in his job. He wasn't required to, because nobody gave the Watch any respect anyway. Carrot gave him a sense of duty, though, and he's progressed well since then. Jingo continues this progression, as he tries to stop the madness. Vimes is always an interesting person to read about. He's not a violent man, and he's trapped in a violent circumstance. Watching him get out of it is very entertaining.
Discworld is known for it's humour, and this is a very funny book. Pratchett usually cloaks his philosophical points in the laughs. This book isn't quite as funny as the previous ones, though, and the philosophy sticks out even more in this one because of it. It basically points out the pointlessness of mindless militarism, nationalism and patriotism. The closest thing it is a parody of is the Falklands conflict, with a war over a worthless piece of land that nobody in their right mind would want anyway. Along the way, though, many jokes are cracked. The best thing about the City Watch books is that the humour seems to come from within the characters, which makes for very zany, yet almost believable, events. That's why I prefer them.
This book is definitely worth a read. You could start with it, but I would suggest that you read the first three: Guards Guards, Men at Arms, and Feet of Clay. There is a progression of character that you will miss if you start with Jingo. But don't miss this one. It's a keeper.
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on March 3, 2002
Jingo ridicules war, and that's what it centers about, but in the process it ridicules (the usual) the city of Ankh-Morpork and it's solid river, the government, the people, foreingers and anything else that Terry just happened to be thinking of. (he can't help it i guess).
It's one of the best of his books i've ever read and i've read fourteen of them so far (with no plans of stopping). I'd read a recipe of bran muffins if Terry wrote it, that's how much of an established and devoted fan i am.
The humour is very hidden at times. My advice, don't start nodding your head off anytime or you'll miss most of the jokes. This guy is a master at the art of sophisticated, witty humour. And fart jokes too (he gets to that somewhere halfway through the book; poor Nobby and Colon. Imagine stuck at a "submersive" and "marine" vehicle under the ocean, with all there is to eat is cheese and (shudder) beans. And the container you're in is sealed. Yeah, the poor crew on board the ship thought it was a sea monster).
The characters are very believable, no matter how strange they are. I can actual feel pity for Vimes, the commander of the police Watch. Then there's Captain Carrot, the dwarf who's not so dwarf-ish. I think there's so much depth in this character because this guy just happens to understand EVERYTHING about people. And it's all through pure, innocent ignorance (sounds a bit strange). Terry wonders if three is some hidden intelligence beneath all that innocent stupidity. There must be, no one is that stupid. Well, if that's the case, no one can be that patient.
Anyway, there's many layers to this book. The most important one is it's a very, very funny and entertaining book. And it's so different from anything else you've read (other than discworld).
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on May 18, 2001
This was the novel that got me hooked on the Discworld and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. It's very very funny and also wickedly intelligent. Someone here pointed out that Terry Pratchett is actually a philosopher masquerading as a funny man. Perhaps the reason why some people don't like "Jingo" is that the philosophy is a bit more overt here than in other Discworld offerings.
Those of us who were around when Maggie (excuse me, Baroness Thatcher) launched her little homage to the 19th century in the Falklands/Malvinas will probably enjoy "Jingo" a little more than others I suspect, but the book itself rings true on so many different levels that it transcends such a particular interpretation. This is Pratchett on the subject of nationalism, militarism and racism with Sam Vimes as usual cast in the role of ironic observer and moral center.
I actually liked seeing Vetinari out and about more, and it's clear that this novel marks the beginning of a more three-D presence in the Discworld universe for both Sergeant Colon and the ambiguously human Corporal Nobbs. Leonard of Quirm needs more work though. Once you got the initial conceit, he became tiresome quite quickly.
Captain Carrot, Sergeant Angua and Corporal Detritus do their usual sterling service. I had hoped for more from Constable Visit-the-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets given that the conflict between Klatch and Ankh-Morpork was partly a religious one, but you can't have everything.
Perhaps my favorite things in the novel were the face-off between the city nobles and Vimes, the Demon Pocket Organizer, and Vimes' precise and beautifully-articulated exposition of the differences between soldiers and policemen. Vimes, I suspect is an old-fashioned copper who believes in justice, rather than merely protecting and serving the law. Too bad the LAPD doesn't read Terry Pratchett.
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on January 30, 2000
There are very few writers who can make you laugh out loud just seconds after making your heart clench. In fact, Terry Pratchett is about the only one I've ever read who could do that. The basic plot is very simple. Two countries, who haven't warred in centuries, find an island, that may or may not have value, situated between them. And for various political reasons both sides begin to prepare for war. It's up to the lowly city guard to put a stop to it. Led by a reformed alcoholic and an oddly naive and carefree captain who sees only the best in people (odd mainly because he's still alive, it is Ankh-Morpork after all) the chances for success don't look too good. Especially when Vetinari, the Patrician, is relieved of his duties by the nobility in preperation for the war. And when the foreign ambassador is killed right under the city guard's collective nose? Well, not even a nice game of football is going to do any good. This was easily my favorite of all the discworld novels, the humor was just as good as in Interesting Times but I felt that the plot and the shading of the characters was slightly superior. The only negative thing that I could say about this book (and quite frankly all of the discworld novels) is that you had better be a fast reader. I read it in under six hours, you need that kind of speed, otherwise I believe that the constant off-subject footnotes would get in the way. Small problem, but one that can be annoying at times.
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HALL OF FAMEon January 27, 2001
Of all the shabby, unjustified aggressions witnessed during the 20th Century, few surpass the Maldive War - Maggie Thatcher's effort to stand with Victoria Regina in Britain's regard. Hundreds of lives were lost over a set of cold, desolate islands in the remote South Atlantic. Someone has calculated that if the money spent on this last gasp of the British Empire had instead gone to resettlement, every resident of the Falkland Islands could have received a million dollars and a new home. Jingo is among the greatest critiques on the folly of wars. It would be nice to think someone sat the Iron Lady down and read this book to her, but she probably wouldn't comprehend it.
When an island rises from the sea on Discworld, the nearest "nations" immediately lay claim to it. The clash of claims leading to war is almost inevitable. Pratchett explains how "war feelings" must be fostered and encouraged, even when the cause of conflict is such a departure from reason as this pitiful gob of land. Sam Vimes, arguably the most reasonable man on Discworld, becomes a victim of war propaganda, swept along in its tide against his will. Sam's natural leadership brings the rest of the Watch along. Except for two who've gone missing - conscripted by, of all people, Lord Vetanari.
Pratchett's characterizations in this book achieve a new pinnacle, especially the new ones. Ahmed, at once Sam's foil and his peer, is a wonderfully enigmatic creation. That he's from "the other side" merely adds to his value in this book. It's to be hoped we meet him again in some future book. Leonard of Quirm arises from earlier vague references to become a real person. The near-stereotype of the absent-minded scientist must have set some teeth on edge at Oxbridge, but Len is a portrayal everyone will recognize. There's one new character, however, that will give the most dedicated Pratchett fan some pause - Beti. More than just a fresh persona, Beti gives Pratchett an opportunity explore previously unrealized themes in his writings. Some comparisons might be made with Angua, but they would pale against what Beti brings to Pratchett's recent publications.
Only one of the characters in this book could be called a disappointment - Carrot. It's almost impossible to view Carrot as an overblown portrayal, but Pratchett manages it this time. No matter - there are too many other excellent renditions that keep you reading and enjoying. Especially that of Sam Vimes. Lord Vetanari's resolution to the strife is in the finest Pratchett tradition of innovative conclusions.
The sad aspect of this book is that it was written ten years too late - the act of self- glorification had passed. As a message for future leaders of any nation, it seems to have missed the target. In part, that's because the media and other reviewers of Pratchett's work think that he's a humourist. That's mistaken. Pratchett's a philosopher who happens to have the talent to make us smile while he's making us face real issues. Pratchett forces us to confront ourselves, our prejudices and biases leading us into conflict with our fellows. The theme of "us" and "them" seems as ancient as humanity. Whether it will ever be shed is a matter for conjecture, but this book, if read by enough, brings some hope. Pratchett is always more than "just funny" and this work is one of his finest treatises on human frailty.
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on January 2, 1999
Need I say more?
Perhaps I'll say that Terry Pratchett has finally shown how much a literary genius he can be. After the appalling "Hogfather" and "Soul Music", he has not only resurrected the once-dead Discworld series single-handedly, (or shall I say single-bookedly) but reached a standard no one could ever expect!
Everything - the characters, gags, storyline (he even gave us a few action scenes to polish it off) and that special Pratchett touch - is fantastic. While the quality of his masterpieces has always made every fantasy in a bookstore seem as outdated as dinosaurs, it can still outdo itself.
Just like Tolkien invented the genre back in the 1930s, Pratchett gave it a whole new dimension. He is the best and only reason I read books!
If you've been abducted by aliens over the past couple of years and don't know what Discworld is, then start your collection with "Jingo", and you'll NEVER go back to the old sword-and-sorcery Tolkien-esqe relics again!<
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on October 15, 1999
Simply stated, this is one of Pratchett's best. He brilliantly skewers politics, warmongering, racism, engineering, time management, navigational terms, police work, and foreign customs, for a start. He then manages to poke fun at (as opposed to ridiculing) humans, werewolves, dwarves, trolls, gnomes, Curious Squid, and the odd orangutang. His treatment of the temperature-sensitive intelligence of Corporal Detritus is well done, and the habit he gives of Commander Vimes returning to his old habits as a street copper even in the middle of ceremonial events had me rolling on the floor.
The demonic organizer and the temporal slip-up was a very nice touch... although the reeling off of the appointments in the alternative final defense (which I shall skip for those who haven't read this yet - I envy you people! <grin>) I found honestly to be as chilling as anything Stephen King ever wrote.
I don't believe I've ever read a bad book of his. Some may have been better than others, but not one of them have I put down and said, "My God, why did I read this?" Pratchett writes with a compassionate eye to his characters, keeping them comical without making them ridiculous.
These are books that I'll still be re-reading 20 years from now, and I'll wager I'll still find something new to laugh at each time.
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on March 8, 1999
In yet another installment of the interminable Discworld series, Terry Pratchett describes Ankh-Morpork's war with a better-armed and better-prepared neighbor. Though he was once the funniest author writing, Jingo shows further degeneration in Pratchett's creativity and ability, probably the result of seriously overfarming the series.
Pratchett has reached the stage in his career where no idea is too weak or too small to be made into a novel. The entire plot of Jingo would have merited a two-line reference or a two-paragraph footnote in one of the best books in the series. In fact, it *did* get used briefly in Guards, Guards. And that is where it should have stayed.
The novel drags on through recycled characters and trite plot lines, never really picking up speed, certainly never producing a real laugh. The only consolation prize for the truly determined reader who manages to finish the thing is Pratchett's always masterful command of the language.
Reading each new Pratchett novel is like watching the inexorable process of a terminal illness. Jingo is no exception. At this point, perhaps the only kind thing to do is put the series to sleep.
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on December 8, 1999
Jingo is one of the best of the Discworld series because it deals with a serious subject - the futility of war but still makes it funny. And if you know of the characters from previous books you'll find one bit of it unbearably moving - the hairs on the back of my neck rose as the Disorganizer read out the appointments of the characters within a few seconds of each other in the alternate universe - particularly for Captain Carrot. Of course, there are weaknesses in it. I still don't understand the plot, Vetenari would never get involved in direct action, there was too much of Colon and Nobby, and not enough of the other characters e.g. Cherrybottom, the OrangUtan, Detritus and the other Guards. Most of all, it's ridiculous to think that countries would go to war over a useless island (nobody mention the Falklands). But despite this I enjoyed it enormously and would recommend it as a good starting point in the series. By the way, the title "Jingo" refers to a song from the Victorian music halls which began "We don't want to fight you but by Jingo if we do: We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too." And from that we get the word "Jingoism". See, you learn something reading Pratchett!
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