Book review: “The Fifth Elephant” by Terry Pratchett

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The 24th tale of Discworld again features Sam Vimes, Carrot, Angua, Cheery Littlebottom, and Detritus the troll, all of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. Don’t worry, Colon and Nobby are back too.

This time the Patrician has sent Vimes as the unlikeliest of ambassadors, to the remote & lawless country of Uberwald, where nothing is as it seems. On the surface the human population is dominated by a cadre of werewolves and vampires, and under the surface the REAL kingdom is run by bickering clans of dwarves.

Angua’s virile and vicious brother, appropriately named Wolfgang, leads a conspiracy to destabilize the delicate arrangement between humans, dwarves, and the undead that has kept Uberwald going for centuries. The tentacles of conspiracy reach as far as Ankh-Morpork, where murders have resulted from it, and the currents of intrigue swirl around an inedible, ancient loaf of gravelly dwarf bread called the Scone of Stone.

Before Vimes solves the mystery, there will be a serious love triangle between the dwarf-raised human Carrot, the werewolf Angua, and an “extremely male” just-plain wolf named, would you believe, Gavin. Also appearing are Lady Sybil (Vimes’ unlikely wife, who has one in the oven now), Death, Gaspode the talking dog, and another Igor (all Igors are about the same, aren’t they?).

There’s lots of fun, more than the usual amount of sexual tension, and of course some terrific battles, escapes, chases, and moments of pure terror. You also learn the interesting fact that werewolves are just as much hated and feared by wolves as they are by humans, and for approximately the same reasons. And the whole concept of the Fifth Elephant is something else! (Hint: fat is mined in Uberwald.)

Recommended Age: 14+