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The fifth elephant by Terry Pratchett

The fifth elephant (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Briggs (Narrator)

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Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
People kept telling me mid-period Pratchett was better than his earlier or later stuff - and on the evidence of this they were right.

I don't remember anyone mentioning The Fifth Elephant as a particularly noteworthy Discworld book but it's more satisfying than many of the more widely praised, earlier entries I've read. Pratchett's The got a hold of his self-indulgence and doesn't labour the gags, while the Discworld feels like a much more fully realised placed.

And I really like the elephant on the cover. ( )
  m_k_m | Mar 4, 2016 |
Sam Vimes goes to Uberwald on a diplomatic mission, Angua vanishes, and Carrot follows. A confusing start, but as ever the threads intertwine to make another great Discworld book.

Read aloud to my sons (aged 13 and 11) and, as ever with Pratchett, I think we appreciated it all the more, particularly some of the humour which works better when said out loud. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
The continuing story of Sam Vimes but is also a complete novel in itself. I'll not summarise the plot for you because I can't remember it. ( )
  Lukerik | Nov 26, 2015 |
As usual excellent. Samuel Vimes has to travel to Ubervald on a diplomatic mission. The Dwarves are electing a new king and it appears that the Scone of Stone has gone missing. Complicated politics abound and there are a lot of people with a lot of plots goiong on. Carrot has to choose between the city and Anghua and his decision is interesting.

An enjoyable romp. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Nov 12, 2015 |
Oh boy. Here's another book that has twice now fallen through the cracks of my reading and blogging system. First and foremost, it sat pushed in the back of the bookshelf, unseen, and therefore, unread. Then, somehow beyond my ken, it either wasn't added to my list of books I wanted to blog about, or it was somehow deleted from the list before I had a chance to review it. In fact, even more distressing for my own list keeping (a hand written list I've kept since 1987), the book failed to make it into my book diary.

But in it's own special irony, it's the perfect introduction to The Fifth Element by Terry Pratchett. See it opens with a very important thing going missing — the Stone of Scone — the thing upon which the Low King sits during coronation. A replica of the Scone, kept in Ankh-Morpork, has also gone missing.

Vimes due to his marriage to Lady Sybil, has to don the tights and attend the upcoming coronation of the Low King. Vimes, ever the member of the Watch, sees things aren't as they seem.

Now I happened to read The Fifth Elephant on the heels of Raising Steam the 40th and final book of the adult Discworld books — and the sequel to this one. What that meant for me, is that I could see many of things Vimes could see (and a few he couldn't yet see).

Somewhere around the mid-point of the Discworld series, the books became more plot driven and more oriented towards social commentary. What is begun in The Fifth Elephant is finished in Raising Steam. ( )
  pussreboots | Aug 7, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Trying to summarize the plot of a Pratchett novel is like describing "Hamlet" as a play about a troubled guy with an Oedipus complex and a murderous uncle. Pratchett isn't Shakespeare -- for one thing, he's funnier -- but his books are richly textured, as the pundits say, and far more complex than they appear at first. You don't have to be familiar with folklore, Leonardo da Vinci and Capability Brown, the history of religion, "Macbeth" and Laurel and Hardy to appreciate them, but if you aren't, you will miss some of the in-jokes. Just consider yourself grabbed by the collar, with me shouting, "You've got to read this book!"
added by Shortride | editThe Washington Post, Barbara Mertz (pay site) (Apr 2, 2000)

» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pratchett, LynAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Briggs, StephenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidd, ChipCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RobinAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mazzone, PhilipDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Many thanks to Peter Bleackley for his help with the dwarf opera Bloodaxe and Ironhammer, which was probably a lot better in his version (and had a lot more songs about gold).
First words
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.

*Not 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.
Sam Vimes could parallel process. Most husbands can. They learn to follow their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue for telltale phrases such as "and they can deliver it tomorrow" or "so I've invited them for dinner?" or "they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply."
He wasn't strictly aware of it, but he treated even geography as if he was investigating a crime (did you see who carved out the valley? Would you recognize that glacier if you saw it again?)
A marriage is always made up of two people who are prepared to swear that only the other one snores.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description

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 civilization 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.

The Fifth Elephant is Terry Pratchett's latest installment in the Discworld cycle, this time starring dwarfs, diplomacy, intrigue and big lumps of fat.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061020400, Mass Market Paperback)

Terry Pratchett has a seemingly endless capacity for generating inventively comic novels about the Discworld and its inhabitants, but there is in the hearts of most of his admirers a particular place for those novels that feature the hard-bitten captain of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, Samuel Vimes. Sent as ambassador to the Northern principality of Uberwald where they mine gold, iron, and fat--but never silver--he is caught up in an uneasy truce between dwarfs, werewolves, and vampires in the theft of the Scone of Stone (a particularly important piece of dwarf bread) and in the old werewolf custom of giving humans a short start in the hunt and then cheating.

Pratchett is always at his best when the comedy is combined with a real sense of jeopardy that even favorite characters might be hurt if there was a good joke in it. As always, the most unlikely things crop up as the subjects of gags--Chekhov, grand opera, the Caine Mutiny--and as always there are remorselessly funny gags about the inevitability of story:

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 question: when millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, and there is no one to hear it, does it--philosophically speaking--make a noise?

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.

All this, the usual guest appearances, and Gaspode the Wonder Dog. --Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:21 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Everyone knows that the world is flat, and supported on the backs of four elephants. But weren't there supposed to be five? Indeed there were. So where is it? When duty calls, Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary answers. Even when he doesn't want to. He's been "invited" to attend a royal function as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other requires, well, ruby tights. Of course where cops (even those clad in tights) go, alas, crime follows. An attempted assassination and a theft soon lead to a desperate chase from the low halls of Discworld royalty to the legendary fat mines of Uberwald, where lard is found in underground seams along with tusks and teeth and other precious ivory artifacts. It's up to the dauntless Vimes-bothered as usual by a familiar cast of Discworld inhabitants (you know, trolls, dwarfs, werewolves, vampires and such) to solve the puzzle of the missing pachyderm. Which of course he does. After all, solving mysteries is his job.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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