are some authors whose writing is exquisite, delicious,
and fine as good wine, whose insight, wit and compassion
are breathtaking in scope and wisdom, and whose every line
leaps from the lead print on each page to burn itself into
your mind forever like a thread of fiery gold.
Pratchett is not one of them.
he does, instead, is spin highly entertaining, boisterous
and wildly successful tales about Discworld - a fantasy
realm set on a spinning disc carried by four giant elephants
on the back of a cosmic turtle.
bit outlandish, you'd say? Thing is, he's done it 25 times.
He's been around way before Harry Potter. He's outlasted
Douglas Adams. And he's still doing it.
who was a journalist for 15 years before publishing his
first Discworld novel, goes back to his media roots in this
25th instalment with a tale of the Discworld's first daily
newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times.
de Worde, disaffected scion of a noble family, disowns his
past to forge a living as a wordsmith, only to find himself
thrust by fate into the editor's seat of the Times. This
puts him on a collision path with a conspiracy to discredit
and replace the city's ruling Patrician, the machiavellian
the way, he attracts (in signature Pratchett style) a host
of flamboyant characters - dwarven printers with names derived
from typefaces, a reformed vampire cameraman with a suicidal
passion for flash photography, even a secret informer named
requisite villains (apart from the X-files-esque upper-class
conspirators and the zombie attorney Mr Slant) are Mr Pin
and Mr Tulip, two of the scariest thugs ever inspired by
of Pulp Fiction will have a field day spotting plugs and
send-ups of movie scenes. (I'll give you one: think of Royale
with Cheese when you get to page 79).
is evocative as the swearing, brawny gangsta with a penchant
for antiques, art history and extreme chemical abuse.
faces such as the Watch's Commander Vimes and Cut-Me-Own-Throat
Dibbler make cameo appearances, but the central characters
of the book (William and his press gang) are brand-new -
a rare occurrence in the Discworld series which can only
mean a sequel instalment is not far off.
no point in looking out for plot; Pratchett is at his best
having fun with words and ideas. He routinely translates
modern techonology into fantasy world equivalents - such
as c-commerce - (using the semaphore communication network
for long-distance trading), and the Imp-powered, palmtop
expect loads of newspaper gags - a tabloid competitor, crusading
journalism, obituaries (written by the deceased, for the
deceased), and In Other News - stories about rudely shaped
usual, Pratchett tries to slip in something clever and thoughtful,
which he hopes won't be accused of being literature. This
time, it's something about racial (or is it species) discrimination,
political apathy and the value of truth in the media - ''nothing
has to be true for ever. Just for long enough''.
die-hard Discworld fans, The Truth is another rip-roaring
fun ride; not the greatest instalment of all time, but certainly
not the worst.