The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
When I am asked to pick my favourite Terry Pratchett book, The Fifth Elephant is always on my mind as a contender. Granted, it’s a contender insomuch as the Rock would be versus Ali, but it’s still in there! There are books that follow that outshine this book, but only in the way that one star outshines a slightly smaller star.
The twenty fourth Discworld novel is also the sixth City Watch story, and as such continues the urban development of Ankh-Morpork. There is now a traffic department, homing pigeons for communication between the Watch and international communication through the clacks. These books, beyond being a story of Samuel Vimes and his Watch, are a story of urban growth in a fantasy world without electricity.
The Fifth Elephant continues on the tales of Jingo by hosting another international flavour. This time however, instead of setting off across the sea to Klatch, they’re heading inland towards Überwald, home to a large majority of the ethnic minorities within Ankh-Morpork including three of Vimes’ best, Angua, Detritus and Cheery.
Sir Samuel Vimes, Commander of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch and Duke of Ankh, is sent as an envoy and ambassador from Ankh-Morpork to witness the coronation ceremony of the dwarf’s new Low King. Naturally, he’s also following the trail of a theft that started in Ankh-Morpork, making use of the trip like every good policeman should.
But the story really gets going when he arrives in Überwald, and there isn’t much I want to say about it. Encounters with the dwarves, vampires and werewolves make for some of the most thrilling action Pratchett has depicted, and storylines that once again only serve to remind me how much I love Samuel Vimes.
With the single exception of the role of Fred Colon back in Ankh-Morpork, this book is stellar. I’ve reread this book more than any of the other Pratchett books, enjoying it more and more each time. Vimes and Angua are brilliant in this book, and the introduction of Rhys Rhysson as the Low King is brilliantly done. The dwarf lore given to us really extends this book simply beyond a story and into something out of a long lost mythology. It’s the least comedic, I think, of the lot, with the possible exception of Night Watch, but with the loss of the comedy only left more room for one of the most ingenious stories I’ve ever read.
I say it again and again, but if you only pick up one Discworld book, this should definitely be a contender (although I’ll probably still recommend Night Watch or the Wee Free Men).
This The Fifth Elephant book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: The Discworld Series
The Colour Of Magic
The Discworld Series: Book 1
In the beginning there was…a turtle. Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smel...
Lords and Ladies
The Discworld Series: Book 14
The fairies are back – but this time they don’t just want your teeth… It's Midsummer Night - no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there'...
Feet of Clay
The Discworld Series: Book 19
For Commander Vimes, Head of Ankh-Morpork City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by…well, more troubling times. Right now, it’s the latt...
The Light Fantastic
The Discworld Series: Book 2
A red star has appeared in the sky and the Discworld is heading right towards it. There is only one person who can save the world; but unfortunately this is the rather inep...
The Discworld Series: Book 20
Throughout history, there's always been a perfectly good reason to start a war. Never more so if it is over a 'strategic' piece of old rock in the middle of now...
The Fifth Elephant
The Discworld Series: Book 24
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 master...
The Discworld Series: Book 28
For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer at loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of ...
The Discworld Series: Book 3
Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job. After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romant...
The Discworld Series: Book 3
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunatel...
The Wee Free Men
The Discworld Series: Book 30
Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching thinks her Granny Aching – a wise shepherd – might have been a witch, but now Granny Aching is dead and it’s up to Tiffany to...
The Discworld Series: Book 31
Polly becomes Private Oliver Perks, who is on a quest to find her older brother, who's recently MIA in one of the innumerable wars the tiny nation of Borogravia has a h...
A Hat Full of Sky
The Discworld Series: Book 32
Something is coming after Tiffany . . .Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered...
The Discworld Series: Book 33
Moist von Lipwig is a con artist... ... and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet. It'...
The Discworld Series: Book 35
Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to w...
The Discworld Series: Book 36
It’s an offer you can’t refuse. Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door? It’s a job for li...
The Discworld Series: Book 37
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood ...
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Discworld Series: Book 38
A man with no eyes. No eyes at all. Two tunnels in his head... It's not easy being a witch, and it's certainly not all whizzing about on broomsticks, but Tiffany Ac...
The Discworld Series: Book 39
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. And Commander Sam...
The Discworld Series: Book 4
There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven...
The Discworld Series: Book 40
To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of...
The Shepherds Crown
The Discworld Series: Book 41
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. This is a time ...
The Discworld Series: Book 8
Here there be dragons . . . and the denizens of Ankh-Morpork wish one huge firebreather would return from whence it came. Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco ...
Have you read The Fifth Elephant?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Fifth Elephant reader reviews
Morgie from Idaho
It was very satiric and it was a good book choice for my English book report. It did have some crude humor but it still made me laugh.
9.4/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Bartimaeus Trilogy
When the 5,000-year-old djinni Bartimaeus is summoned by Nathaniel, a young magician's apprentice, he expects to have to do nothing more taxing than a little levitation...
Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend. There is another 1985, where London’s criminal gangs have moved into the lucrative literary m...
Lockwood & Co
When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in... For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A nu...
Son of a Liche
J Zachary Pike
A doubly disgraced dwarven hero. A band of accident-prone adventurers. Giving redemption a second shot may have been a grave mistake…Still bruised and heartbr...
100 Miles and Vampin
C T Phipps
Peter Stone is a poor black vampire who has found undeath isn't all it was promised to be. There's no vast riches, innate cool, or super-sex appeal. No, instead, th...
In a world full to bursting with would-be heroes, Jim couldn't be less interested in saving the day. His fireballs fizzle. He's awfully grumpy. Plus, he's been ...
A Lord of the Rings for the 21st century. Only a lot shorter. And funnier. And completely different. Conor thought he was an average teenager. OK, so his father only had on...
When young Jimbo Mambo books a room with Captain and Mrs Fanshaw in their Northernville lodging house, he is gradually introduced to their bizarre social circle. However, n...
I Was a Teenage Weredeer
C T Phipps
Jane Doe is a weredeer, the least-threatening shapechanger species in the world. Blessed with the ability to turn furry at will and psychically read objects, Jane has done ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: