The Fifth Elephant (Discworld Series #24)

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld Series #24)

4.6 61
by Terry Pratchett

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Sam Vimes is a man on the run. Yesterday he was a duke, a chief of police and the ambassador to the mysterious fat-rich country of Uberwald. Now he has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don't ask). It's snowing. It's freezing. And if he can't make it through the forest to civilisation there's going to be a terrible war. But there are… See more details below


Sam Vimes is a man on the run. Yesterday he was a duke, a chief of police and the ambassador to the mysterious fat-rich country of Uberwald. Now he has nothing but his native wit and the gloomy trousers of Uncle Vanya (don't ask). It's snowing. It's freezing. And if he can't make it through the forest to civilisation there's going to be a terrible war. But there are monsters on his trail. They're bright. They're fast. They're werewolves--and they're catching up. Sam Vimes is out of time, out of luck, and already out of breath...

Editorial Reviews

London Times
Other writers are now mining the rich seam of comic fantasy that Pratchett first unearthed, but what keeps Pratchett on top is--quite literally--the way he tells them.
Science Fiction Weekly
Terry Pratchett isn't the only major fantasy writer who churns out a book a year in a popular ongoing series, but he may be the only one consistently fighting off authorial entropy. Rather than degenerating into contractual-obligation clones, the Discworld books are actually improving year by year.
San Francisco Chronicle
Unadulterated fun. Pratchett parodies everything in sight.
Writers Write
The art of satire is a difficult one, and Pratchett truly is a master of the form....If you haven't made the acquaintance of Terry Pratchett, by all means remedy the situation immediately. For longtime fans, you're in for a treat. Highly recommended.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Acclaimed British author Pratchett continues to distinguish himself from his colleagues with clever plot lines and genuinely likable characters in this first-rate addition to his long-running Discworld fantasy series (Carpe Jugulum, etc.). This time around, the inhabitants of Discworld's Ankh-Morpork have turned their attentions in the direction of Uberwald--a country rich in valuable minerals and high-quality fat deposits. (The fifth elephant, it seems, left all these when he or she crashed and burned in Uberwald at the beginning of time.) Ankh-Morpork's policeman Sam Vimes has been sent there to represent his people at a coronation--and to find the recently stolen, rock-hard and symbolically important (at least to the Dwarf population) Scone of Stone. As he tells Vimes's story (and surrounding ones), Pratchett cheerfully takes readers on an exuberant tale of mystery and invention, including the efforts of a clique of neo-Nazi werewolves to destabilize Uberwald. Along the way, he skewers everything from monarchy to fascism, as well as communism and capitalism, oil wealth and ethnic identities, Russian plays, immigration, condoms and evangelical Christianity--in short, most everything worth talking about. Not as perfect as Pratchett's Hogfather but in the same class, this novel is a heavyweight of lightness. 200,000 ad/promo; 7-city author tour. (Apr.) FYI: At the end of The Fifth Elephant is appended a "handy travel guide" to the "World of Terry Pratchett," including a character guide to the Discworld novels and a Discworld crossword puzzle. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
School Library Journal
YA-A book that's part mystery, part action-adventure, and all funny. Someone has stolen the original Scone of Stone from a dwarf vault in berwald and its replica. The new Low King of the dwarves cannot be crowned without it, and the current candidate for the throne is more moderate than certain factions would like. The fifth elephant of the title is the mythical beast responsible for providing the mountains of berwald with their rich deposits of gold, silver, iron and fat-the real reason that dwarven politics matter in Ankh-Morpork. While this is not the best story to begin an exploration of the "Discworld" (HarperCollins), fans of the series will enjoy it. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Discworld Series, #24
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.72(w) x 4.12(h) x 1.09(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle.

They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances.

They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.

No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical point: When millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, but there is no one to hear it, does it-philosophically speaking-make a noise?

And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit?

In other words, wasn't it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences?

As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of truth in it.

On a clear day, from the right vantage point on the Ramtops, a watcher could see a very long way across the plains, If it was high rock and iron in their dead form, as they are now, but living rock and iron. The dwarfs have quite an inventive mythology about minerals, summer, they could count the columns of dust as the ox trains plodded on at a top speed of two miles an hour, each two pulling a train of two wagons carrying four tons each. Things took a long time to get anywhere, but when they did, there was certainly a lot of them.

To the cities of the Circle Sea they carried raw material, and sometimes people who were off to seektheir fortune and a fistful of diamonds.

To the mountains they brought manufactured goods, rare things from across the oceans, and people who had found wisdom and a few scars.

There was usually a day's traveling between each convoy. They turned the landscape into an unrolled time machine. On a clear day, you could see last Tuesday.

Heliographs twinkled in the distant air as the columns flashed messages back and forth about bandit presence, cargoes and the best place to get double egg, treble chips and a steak that overhung the plate all around.

Lots of people traveled on the carts. It was cheap, it beat walking, and you got there eventually.

Some people traveled for free.

The driver of one wagon was having problems with his team. They were skittish. He'd expect this in the mountains, where all sorts of wild creatures might regard the oxen as a traveling meal. Here there was nothing more dangerous that cabbages, wasn't there?

Behind him, down in a narrow space between the loads of cut lumber, something slept. It was just another day in Ankh-Morpork ...

Sergeant Colon balanced on a shaky ladder at one end of the Brass Bridge, one of the city's busiest thoroughfares. He clung by one hand to the tall pole with the box on top of it, and with the other he held a homemade picture book up to the slot in the front of the box.

"And this is another sort of cart," he said. "Got it?"

"'S," said a very small voice from within the box.

"O-kay," said Colon, apparently satisfied. He dropped the book and pointed down the length of the bridge.

"Now, you see those two markers what has been painted across the cobbles?"

"And they mean ... ?"

"If-a-cart-g's-tween-dem-in-less'na-minute-'s-goin-too-fas'," the little voice parroted.

"Well done. And then you ... ?"

"Painta pic-cher."

"Taking care to show ... ?"


"And if it's nighttime you ... ?"

"Use-der-sal'mander-to-make-it-brite ...

"Well done, Rodney. And one of us will come along every day and collect your pictures. Got everything you want?"

"What's that, Sergeant?"

Colon looked down at the very large, brown upturned face, and smiled.

"Afternoon, All," he said, climbing ponderously down the ladder. "What you're looking at, Mister Jolson, is the modern Watch for the new millenienienum ... num."

"'S a bit big, Fred," said All Jolson, looking at it critically. "I've seen lots of smaller ones."

"Watch as in City Watch, All."

"Ah, right."

"Anyone goes too fast around here and Lord Vetinari'll be looking at his picture next morning. The iconographs do not lie, All."

"Right, Fred. 'Cos they're too stupid."

"His Lordship's got fed up with carts speeding over the bridge, see, and asked us to do something about it. I'm Head of Traffic now, you know."

"Is that good, Fred?"

"I should just think so!" said Sergeant Colon expansively. "It's up to me to keep the, er, arteries of the city from clogging up, leadin' to a complete breakdown of commerce and ruination for us all. Most vital job there is, you could say."

"And it's just you doing it, is it?"

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What People are saying about this

Elizabeth Peters
If I were making my list of Best Books of the Twentieth Century, Terry Pratchett's would be most of them!
A. S. Byatt
Discworld is more complicated and satisfactory than Oz. Truly original. Pratchett creates a brilliant excess of delectable detail!

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