©1999 Terry and Lyn Pratchett; (P)2000 Isis Publishing, Ltd.
"Unadulterated fun. Pratchett parodies everything in sight." (San Francisco Chronicle)
I miss Nigel
Pratchett's stuff is awesome. Even a bad reader can't destroy Discworld's enchantment.
There's no way I can just stop going though Discworld so I have no choice since Briggs reads the rest of the books in this series and I'm sure I'll get used to him. But his range of characters just isn't even close to Nigel's.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Briggs brought this book to life beautifully, and I'm delighted, because this has long been one of my favorites in the Discworld "City Watch" series. It's got a strong, twisty, yet linear plot with a spooky atmosphere. Sometimes the tone gets a bit teachy / preachy, and some puns have me rolling my eyes, but Pratchett kept that contained enough for me. There's action, suspense, characters to care for, witty political and social commentary, and even a hint of romance.
PLOT & CHARACTERS (no spoilers)
Setting: The backwoods of cold and creepy Überwald, about 500 miles to the north of Ankh-Morpork. With his newly acquired title of Duke of Ankh (see Feet of Clay), Vetinari dubs Sam Vimes "Ambassador" to represent Ankh-Morpork in the coronation of the new Low King of the Dwarves. This ceremony is traditionally carried out with the ancient coronation stone, the dwarf-made Scone of Stone (a parody on the Scottish Stone of Scone, or Stone of Destiny).
It's a long trip to the town of Bonk in Überwald by horse-drawn coach, but the new invention of clacks towers (semaphores, telegraph system) provides a link with Ankh-Morpork. His wife Sybil comes along, with Detritus the troll and Cheri Littlebottom the dwarf. In a different plot twist in Überwald, we see Angua the werewolf and Carrot the huge human "dwarf" (with Gaspode, the talking dog). In Überwald, the City Watch must deal with nasty vampires, a few hulking igors and many vicious werewolves. Never a dull moment.
Back in Ankh-Morprok, Seargent Colon is temporarily promoted to Acting Captain of the City Watch, because Vimes and Carrot are out of the country. The effects of this promotion make up a fair chunk of the story, focusing on leadership, theft, murder, sugar cubes, and parking tickets (wheel clamps).
There are some heartfelt scenes between Sam and his wife Sybil. The calm and straightforward Carrot behaved with far more inscrutability than ever before, and by his extreme actions showed that personal is indeed more important than merely important. Lord Vetinari is pure gold, of course.
Seriously at this point you would need a very good reason not to buy all the Discworld books (except possibly the first few and even those have a few moments of greatness).
So take it as read that all Discworld books are five star books, it's just that some are *more* five star than others.
The Fifth Elephant is one of the *more* books, it features Vimes being Vimes, Detritus and Cheery being themselves and Sybil being a bad-ass.
Multiple levels of anachronism and just plain odd juxtaposition of objects/ideas.
Gaspode the talking dog.
Too many good/fun scenes to pick just one. Gaspode talking with the wolf in the cage (after making Carrot *promise* to get the chickens first was good for a chuckle.
I guess that's common to the Discworld books I've read or listened to so far, the scenes are all tight/enjoyable so there aren't any that really stand out in my mind. Or what's left of my mind.
Not at 10+ hours, thanks. It is very fun to put it on while I'm working in my shop or just sitting in front of the fireplace for an hour or two.
Performance should be a 4.99, but only because I listened to several of the Nigel Planer narrated ones first, so his voicing is the one I associate with the characters. They're both freaking brilliant at reading Terry Pratchett. Even if you love Nigel Planer, give Mr. Biggs a try, he's equally talented and he "gets" the characters.
At least this one doesn't have the annoying "You're probably a criminal" lecture at the beginning of the recording. I'm not sure what Pratchett thought he was doing when he had them add that to some of the books, but it just annoys hell out of me to have to listen to that "We need to preach at you to remind you not to be a criminal" every time I sit down to listen to a book I've paid for.
I think the Discworld audiobooks are very overpriced. They don't sell them in a collection, and $22 to $35 per book is a bit hard to swallow. It wouldn't surprise me if they are frequently pirated.
Down the rabbit hole into a ring a fire- the magic of words lifts me higher and higher.
All of the Discworld Novels are worth listening to again and again, especially the last 20 or so!
When you discover the "real" motive for the murder.
Lady Sybil - It was hard to remember there was only one narrator.
I don't think so. There is commentary about religion, social-economic factors, racial tension and feminism throughout, and how a so-called, plain-spoken everyday sort of copper deals with it. (He's really too smart to be "everyday" and there is no way you could ever call Sam Vimes "normal"). I was too busy laughing through most of it to be moved until the true motive for the murder was revealed.
In retrospect, and for writing to be good there needs to be a retrospect; if you forget it when you walk away it didn't make you think and Pratchett, being exceptional will make you dwell. In retrospect it makes me think about the course of feminism in the US. Now that women are the equal of men, a tragic slip off of the pedestal, will we ever get to the point that we can't tell the difference between men and women? There will always be special cases where a person of one sex intentionally creates the perception of being the other, but I see the popularity of androgyny excused as a healthy living and have to shudder.
Oh well, dwarves will be dwarves, for now.
Satire, camp, logic, RELIGION and OMG a ripping good story line. Hilarious and dramatic. If you are not familiar with the series (what disc do you live on?) then start at the beginning with "The Color of Magic"
I LOVE the disc world series, most especially the night watch books. You cannot believe how bummed I am with the new narrator. He has turned the wonderfully madcap characters into proper british citizens. Yuch. I have tried twice to listen to this book and have not been able to get past the introduction of the new Carrot and Vimes voices. I keep telling myself this is the same author and reminding myself how much I laugh while "reading" these books. It would probably be okay if I'd never heard the Nigel Planer books but I DID and I thought he did a FABulous job. Man. This is terrible. I am SUPER bummed out man. And (as of this moment), I have COMPLETELY wasted a credit. I will try again but I'm not holding out for much luck with it. I thought Pratchett was GOLD. Well, his narrator isn't. Slow. Plodding. Proper. Ugh. You just don't know how bummed I am at this moment. Sheesh.
The Fifth Elephant is a great story, as usual, and even more witty than the previous 23 novels. This rating is for the narration, not the novel itself. What has happened to Nigel Planer? Did Stephen Briggs get the new job because he does stage adaptations of Pratchett's books and co-authors the Discworld guides? I don't think this qualifies him as a narrator. His characterizations within the ethnic groups (humans, trolls, dwarfs, etc.) are barely distinguishable. What a disappointment.
I own a couple of memberships and have enjoyed many books but none are as delightful on audio as those of Discworld. Intelligent, witty, clever, outrageously entertaining--it took me forever to try these books (I hate things other people rave about) and now am glad they are there to enjoy now. I've listened to everything from old time radio to . . . at night and while travelling. None is more enjoyable than Pratchett. I think this was the best novel after the first two but I rate them all 4 or 5 stars.
I already knew I loved this book. I've read every Discworld novel, and always enjoy the humor, wit, and subtle poignancy of the tales Sir Pratchett crafts. But this narration adds another layer of enjoyment to an already wonderful book. Each character's voice has carefully performed individuality, with the added joy of amusing regional accents and affectations. This might be the crowning jewel of Briggs' narrations, and is not to be missed. Enjoy!
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