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The Fifth Elephant [Large Print] [Hardcover]

Terry Pratchett
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Dec 2000
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that mastering it is a lifetime's work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It's not something you can just pick up on the job. Which is a shame if you find yourself dropped unaccountably into a position of some significant diplomatic responsibility. If you don't really do diplomacy or haven't been to school with the right foreign bigwigs or aren't even sure whether a nod is as good as a wink to anyone, sighted or otherwise, then things are likely to go wrong. It's just a question of how badly...
--This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Charnwood (Large Print); Large Print edition edition (1 Dec 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0708992102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0708992104
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 15 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,597,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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 which 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, and 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 mixed with a real sense of jeopardy that even favourite 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Precisely balanced ... excellent set pieces ... a cracking comic thriller." The Times "He would be amusing in any form and his spectacular inventiveness makes the Discworld series one of the perennial joys of modern fiction." Mail on Sunday --This text refers to the Unknown Binding edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 11 Jan 2008
Once an author is turning out a novel a year in a growing series he can be forgiven for getting rather stale. That isn't really a problem with Terry Pratchett: his output can be a bit uneven but overall the Discworld fantasies just seem to be getting better, and "The Fifth Elephant" is one of the best.
The wonderful Sam Vimes - clever, upwardly mobile but basically honest and down-to-earth chief of police of Ankh-Morpork - is sent with his aristocratic wife on a diplomatic mission to troubled realm of Uberwald. Why did the city's ruler Lord Vetinari, a man who could give Machiavelli lessons in deviousness, chose Vimes of all people for this delicate task? What exactly is going on in Uberwald, where the uneasy balance of power between dwarves, werewolves, and vampires seems to be breaking down? All is revealed in a book that is both dark and humorous, engrossing and highly entertaining.
Many of the usual characters we have come to know from the Discworld novels are here, and trying to make the best of an unfamiliar and threatening place and understand the peoples and their politics.
Once again Pratchett is the master not only of plot and character but also of the little aside, the fascinating but not overdone individual, the sly and amusing reference. We learn, for instance, that it is a social blunder to use the word "bath" to an upper-class werewolf when he is in human form, it makes him uncomfortable. We are introduced to a vampire equivalent of AA where members help each other keep off the human blood and get through "vun night at a time".
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A copper that isn't an ore 15 Jan 2006
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME
Role models are a major topic these days. Who are the good ones, and who the bad? Once we had monarchs, presidents, explorers, all good and/or bad with some migration from the first to the second. In Sam Vimes, we may have a unique example of the reverse.
When we first met Sam Vimes in GUARDS! GUARDS!, he was sodden in a gutter, soddin' drunk. Hardly an auspicious beginning for a heroic figure. Discworld heroes are often found in unusual circumstances, rarely admirable at first sight. Sam's a copper, Commander of Ankh-Morpork's Night Watch. It's a job to send any man's hand groping for support, even if the brace is in the form of a bottle. Now he's on his way to Uberwald. Trolls, Dwarves and Werewolves have all emigrated from this region, taking up residence in Sam's city. He hasn't shed his resentment at this intrusion, nor his suspicion of these bizarre life forms. His earlier cultural challenges came from the likes of Klatchians, who were at least human. The Patrician has made him a diplomat, a real challenge for a man with so little tact. He must deal with all these creatures he resents. Failure to deal successfully may result in his becoming part of the local cuisine.
Sam has an advantage over many of us. Strongly self-aware, he manages to control his temper and intemperance. He's pulled himself out of the gutter. Now the Duke of Ankh- Morpork, he's married into the city's aristocracy. His diplomatic skills are going to be put to severe tests. To ease the pressure, Sam is accompanied by his recently acquired spouse, Sybil Ramkin. Her presence with him on this venture is an indication of his newly elevated status, and recognition of her well established one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The Fifth Elephant is the 24th Discworld novel.
In Ankh-Morpork, the Scone of Stone, the Dwarfs' sacred relic, has been stolen, and the director of the rubber factory has just been murdered.
As Sam Vimes is sent on a diplomatic mission to Uberwald for the coronation of the new King of the Dwarfs, and Captain Carrot has gone in search of missing Angua, Lord Vetinari reluctanctly promotes Fred Colon as Captain of the Watch...
Although presented as a novel of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, the action is principally centered on Sam Vimes and his struggle with the not-so-nice werewolves of Uberwald.
With its numerous winks to our own world, as well as the guest appearence of dear characters such as DEATH or Gaspode the Wonder Dog, the Fifth Elephant turns out as funny as I expected a Pratchett novel to be. Definitely a very good read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plummetting Pachiderms 24 Jan 2012
As we all know the Discworld is carried on the backs of four elephants that in turn stand upon the carapace of the giant galactic star turtle, the Great A'tuin. However, some time in the past there was another elephant. One that, for some reason still to be determined, plummetted to the surface of the discworld and whose fat deposits have become a lucrative dwarf mine. Things are afoot and Sam Vimes is on the case.

A good read and a good title pun. Adventure, humour, crime, deep insights and a wonderfully skewed perspective on the human condition as usual. Terry Pratchett can do no wrong in my eyes, although I do have to confess this story is not my most favourite.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I want to live on the dis world!!
Everything that Terry Pratchett writes is magnificent!!
Published 1 month ago by MRS JASMIN FARQUHAR
5.0 out of 5 stars Bark at the moon!
Another Discworld book that i've read for the first time,having read the first fifteen books (give or take) years ago. Read more
Published 1 month ago by mrdubyadee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by R. Ardis
5.0 out of 5 stars As usual - the wonderful city watchmen
This is one of the later books of this series where Sam Vimes and Lady Sybil are together, and things getting complicated as we move outside the big city. Read more
Published 2 months ago by S M A S K
4.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett fan
Not one of my favourite of the series - not sure why but I still keep reading it again and again.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Terry pratchets every book keeps me away till the early hours of the morning, captivated in his tales. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Andre
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent as always
Such a pleasure to read just like any of his books - subtle transparent humour and charismatic personalities. Extremely engaging.
Published 5 months ago by RJ
5.0 out of 5 stars Terry Pratchett - The Fifth Elephant
Another great book by Terry Pratchett. Full of humour, excitement, intrigue and really excellent writing. Enjoyed it from start to finish
Published 5 months ago by DaveG
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as usual
Terry Pritchett at his finest great fun I would recommend this book to friends and family both young and old
Published 7 months ago by marie lowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Terry Practchet
A great read as a stand alone book or to build up knowledge of Terry Pratchetts Discworld and the wonderful Commander Vimes
Published 7 months ago by R LISLE
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