Thursday, 24 March 2011
The Fifth Elephant, Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books are always good comfort reads, and without a doubt my favourite sub-series is that which features the Watch. Yet, The Fifth Elephant and Jingo are not books I’ve re-read as often as the other Watch books. These two are not set entirely in Ankh Morpork, and therefore don’t have quite the same feel to them. By now, the city of Ankh Morpork is quite as much of a character as Vimes, Carrot et al, and has come to shape what I expect in a Discworld novel.
It is an absolute pleasure to read about Vimes, a very unwilling ambassador and a policeman to his core, defying convention, rubbing everyone up the wrong way and generally abusing his diplomatic immunity as an excuse to be as undiplomatic as you can imagine, getting away with it with sheer cheek and audacity. Sam Vimes prods some serious buttock.
We also see a vulnerable side to the sarcastic, tough-girl Angua. The Fifth Elephant contains an interesting explorations of the conflicts of a werewolf: neither human nor wolf and despised by both. Angua lives her life constantly fighting to remain decent and civilised, paying for the chickens she’s eaten in her wolf shape “because animals don’t,” and terrified that she might turn out bad, like her psychopathic brother Wolfgang.
*Yes, I do mean it that way around. Dwarf baking is notoriously solid and doubles as weaponry - or in this case, the coronation seat of the dwarfs.