The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

Suzie Eisfelder

I have a lot of books in my house. Times like now illustrate this perfectly. I’ve had The Fifth Elephant on my shelves for some time. I can’t tell you how long it’s been here for but I suspect I probably bought it at a second hand bookshop at some stage. There’s an assumption that I must have read it between buying and now. I needed a book with a good narrative, my brain and psyche told me none of the books on my TBR Pile would fit the bill. Perusing my shelves told me that I’d be very happy to reread The Fifth Elephant. The problem came when I couldn’t remember any of it. It’s hard to reread a book you’ve never read. You’re right, the assumption was brimming over with wrongness.

This is the twenty-fourth book in the Discworld series. It explained a lot for me, filled in some of the gaps I had having read books set after this book. There’s a lot of good information about Sam Vimes, it explains some of character and also why Sybil loves him.

And then we get the story of The Fifth Elephant. Many of you already know the Discworld sits on the back of four elephants, and they stand on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a giant turtle. If you think that sounds familiar, almost like Hindu mythology then you’re absolutely right. Terry Pratchett knew an enormous amount about people, mythology of many cultures, and little bits of information all of which he fed into his books. Apparently there was a fifth elephant. This one careened through space and landed on the Disc, just like a meteorite. And just like a meteorite it left pieces of itself behind, and just like a meteorite those pieces are mined. If you think about the mining industry and how it works you’ll have some idea about the political shenanigans that might ensure a lively plot.

I’m not mentioning the happenings back in Ankh-Morpork while Same Vimes is away, supposedly having a holiday. But it includes The Peter Principle whereby a person is promoted to a position of incompetency and all the work problems that can ensue from that. It’s very amusing to read Colon be above his head, in a manner of speaking.

I really did like Sybil. She’s old money. She outranks everyone else in Ankh-Morpork by title and money. And she’s learned a lot of things along the way. I would mention singing, but I’m not entirely sure it could actually be described as singing. What it does is entrance the dwarfs and change the situation.

Do I recommend this book? What a stupid question. Of course I do, so much that I’m putting an affiliate link here for you. If you click through you can see the fifth elephant hurtling through the sky. It only took me a few days to wander through the pages and discover, for the umpteenth time, why I love Pratchett’s writing.

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