One of the funniest authors alive
Our Review At their best, Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels are inspired comic creations: funny, pointed, irreverent, and endlessly entertaining. This entry, appropriately entitled The Truth, is the 25th installment since the series began in 1983, and I'm pleased to report that it's as deeply deranged as any of the previous 24.
Discworld, for the benefit of newcomers, is a flat, disc-shaped planet carried on the backs of four giant elephants, who are themselves carried by the giant turtle called Great A'Tuin. The principal metropolis of Discworld -- and the site of most of the stories -- is Ankh-Morpork, a cosmopolitan city populated by an uneasy combination of humans, vampires, trolls, werewolves, zombies, gnomes, gargoyles, and imps. Typically, the Discworld novels reflect fractured versions of instantly recognizable events, trends, and cultural phenomena, and
The Truth is no exception. This time out, investigative journalism gains a foothold in Ankh-Morpork, with predictably bizarre results.
The hero of
The Truth is William de Worde, disenfranchised member of the wealthy -- and arrogant -- nobility. William earns a meager living selling highly specialized "news letters" to selected subscribers. With the belated advent of moveable type, business picks up rapidly, and William finds himself manning the helm of a revolutionary publication: The Ankh-Morpork Times,
whose erroneously typeset motto is "The Truth Shall Make You Fret." It shall, indeed.
William and his fledgling staff start out by covering a variety of mundane subjects: weddings, weather, fires, and flower shows, as well as "human interest" stories, such as the unusual -- i.e., genital-shaped -- vegetables grown by an enterprising farmer. But before you can say Woodward and Bernstein, William uncovers a major political scandal, as the anonymous members of "The Committee to Un-elect the Patrician" attempt to incriminate and depose the legal ruler of Ankh-Morpork, Havelock Vetinari, and replace him with a more amenable candidate of their own.
William's pursuit of the elusive, subtly shifting concept known as "truth" takes him from the highest levels of Ankh-Morpork society to the lowest, and bring him into contact with a wide variety of allies and opponents, including: a talking dog named Gaspode, a pair of imported hit men, a fast-talking lawyer who happens to be dead, and -- my own favorite -- a vampiric photographer with a peculiar allergic reaction to sudden flashes of light. The result of all this is an illuminating excursion into the origins
of journalism, Discworld-style, and a first-rate entry in the most consistent series of comic fantasies currently available in the English-speaking world.
Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of , Peter Straub At the Foot of the Story Tree, has just been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).
Humorously entertaining...subtly thought-provoking...
The characters are delightful… Every page boils with humor and fantastic invention.
...Has the energy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the inventiveness of Alice in Wonderland...Birlliant!
Unadulterated fun...Witty, frequently hilarious.
Think J.R.R. Tolkien with a sharper, more satiric edge.
The 25th book (after The Fifth Elephant) in the Discworld series returns to the thriving city of Ankh-Morpork, where humans, dwarfs and trolls share the streets with zombies, vampires, werewolves and the occasional talking dog. Young William de Worde makes a modest living running a scribing business, including a newsletter of current events for a select subscription list. Then he meets dwarf wordsmith Gunilla Goodmountain, inventor of the printing press, who helps transform de Worde's newsletter into a daily called The Ankh-Morpork Times (subhead: The Truth Shall Make Ye Free). While the city's civil, religious and business leaders are up in arms over The Times, Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, encourages the advance--as long as it remains a "simple entertainment that is not going to end up causing tentacled monsters and dread apparitions to talk the streets eating people." In the meantime, as de Worde's staff grows and a type turns the subhead to "The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret", two shadowy characters are hired to remove the Patrician--permanently. Pratchett's witty reach is even longer than usual here, from Pulp Fiction to His Girl Friday. Readers who've never visited Discworld before may find themselves laughing out loud, even as they cheer on the good guys, while longtime fans are sure to call this Pratchett's best one yet. (Nov. 7) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pratchett's twenty-fifth entry in his popular Discworld series is right on target with plenty of good humor, quirky characters, and a fun, fast-moving plot,. William de Worde, the younger son of one of Ankh-Morpork's elite families, always has had a flair for words, but he never expected that talent to blossom into the Ankh-Morpork Times, Ankh-Morpork's first newspaper, printed with the able assistance of a group of dwarves. As the workload explodes, he is assisted by the proper Sacharissa Cripslock and Otto, a recovering vampire whose photosensitivity tends to cause him to fall apart. When Lord Vetinari, Patrician of the city, is accused of attempted murder, William doggedly seeks out the truth even if it earns him the unwelcome attention of both a secret society of anti-Vetinari conspirators and Captain Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork Watch. As always, popular culture allusions, puns, and sheer lunacy abound, but underpinning all is a substantial insight into human culture and the shifting nature of truth. Pratchett's books not only make readers laugh, but they also offer something to think about while laughing. This title stands alone well, although prior knowledge of the Discworld universe enhances the enjoyment. Fortunately, the publisher is reissuing the series in paperback. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P S A/YA (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, HarperCollins, 324p, Ages 16 to Adult. Reviewer: Donna Scanlon SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
When he stumbles upon the dwarven secret of movable type, young scribe William de Word discovers a new career and starts a newspaper--the first of its kind in the city of Ankh-Morporp. Pratchett's 25th "Discworld" novel takes on the press and investigative journalism in a hilarious romp that examines the fleeting nature of truth and lies. The author's skill in the difficult art of comic fantasy makes this story of innocence and cynicism a good choice for most fantasy collections, particularly where the series is in demand. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/00.] Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Pratchett's latest Discworld romp (The Fifth Elephant, p. 27, etc.) is a mystery-cum-satire. When the dwarfs invent a printing press with movable type, William de Worde, a reporter of rumors, decidesafter warning the dwarfs how much trouble the device will causeto establish a daily newsletter, The Ankh-Morpork Times. He enlists the city's beggars as vendors, an engraver's daughter as reporter, and a vampire who's renounced blood as photographer. Soon, however, a sleazy rival hits the streets, The Ankh-Morpork Inquirer. Then the city's ruling Patrician, Lord Vetinari, is discovered unconscious, apparently engaged in fleeing his home with $70,000 after stabbing his clerk. William, who always tells the trutha curious and very rare quality hereaboutsexamines the crime scene, assesses the peculiar evidence, and decides to investigate. An above-average entry in this durable, funny, and occasionally razor-edged series.