Fantasy Mystery Romance Comics Non-Fiction

The Fifth Elephant

Friday, August 7, 2020

The Fifth Elephant (1999) Terry Pratchett (Discworld)

The Fifth ElephantA new Low King is about to be coronated in Uberwald, and for some reason, Vetinari has decided to send Vimes (the Duke of Ankh-Morpork) to the coronation.

“Let me see if I’ve got this right,” said Vimes. “Uberwald is like this big suet pudding that everyone’s suddenly noticed, and now with this coronation as an excuse we’ve all got to rush there with knife, fork and spoon to shovel as much on our plates as possible?”

“Your grasp of political reality is masterly, Vimes. You lack only the appropriate vocabulary.

But he doesn’t have to go on his own.

“You will not be required to do any negotiating, Vimes. That will be dealt with by one of my clerks, who will set up the temporary embassy and discuss such matters with his opposite numbers among the courts of Uberwald. All clerks speak the same language. You will simply be as ducal as you can. And, of course, you will take a retinue. A staff,” Vetinari added, seeing Vimes’s blank look. He sighed. “People to go with you. I suggest Sergeant Angua, Sergeant Detritus and Corporal Littlebottom.”

“Ah,” said Carrot, nodding encouragingly.

“Sorry?” said Vimes. “I think there must have been a whole piece of conversation just then that I must have missed.”

“A werewolf, a troll and a dwarf,” said Carrot. “Ethnic minorities, sir.”

“…but, in Uberwald, they are ethnic majorities,” said Lord Vetinari. “All three officers come from there originally, I believe. Their presence will speak volumes.”

“So far it hasn’t sent me a postcard,” said Vimes.

Plus, of course, Lady Sybil.

“You’re humming, Sam,” said Sybil, after a while. “That means that something awful is going to happen to somebody.”

“Wonderful thing, technology,” said Vimes, buttering a slice of toast. “I can see it has its uses.”

“And when you grin in that shiny sort of way it means that someone’s playing silly buggers and doesn’t know you’ve just thrown a six.”

I somehow just realized that although Pratchett often makes fun of Lady Sybil’s place in society, and her position as a “Lady” she is probably the most consistently sympathetic character in the series. She clearly loves Sam, and her Sanctuary for Dragons has always been somewhat ridiculous, but Lady Sybil herself is always kind to everyone, and that makes everything she does sympathetic and nice.

She’s even nice when she’s teasing Sam.

“…This stuff…this stuff is spying. I wondered how Vetinari always seems to know so much!”

“Did you think it came to him in dreams, dear?”

We also discover a fair amount about Angua’s past, as well as about Dwarf society.

These are marvelous books for right now. Funny and witty and sarcastic all at once.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 7.5/10

Categories: 7.5/10, eBook, Fantasy, Reread

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