“It was funny how people were people everywhere you went, even if the people concerned weren’t the people the people who made up the phrase ‘people are people everywhere’ had traditionally thought of as people.”
I keep going back and forth over whether this should get the fifth star, and that back and forth is what’s keeping it at four (for now), but this is my favorite of these books since Hogfather. I very well may change my mind at any time and increase the rating. It didn’t *quite* have the emotional oomph I like from these books in order to get the fifth star, but it was so much fun, and there was a little oomph, so . . . ugh, whatever. This book is great. Goodreads, give us half stars.
We are going back to Uberwald in The Fifth Elephant, and this time Captain Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is going with us. Except he’s not going as Captain, he’s going as the Duke of Ankh-Morpork, a title he does his best to forget he owns. The dwarfs are crowning a new Low King, and the rest of the Disc has cottoned on to the potential wealth of resources that might be obtained by befriending the monstrous and strange creatures that live there, which as well as dwarfs, also includes werewolves and vampires. They live in relative peace with one another, but Uberwald is a very different place than Ankh-Morpork, so Vimes is sent with his wife Lady Sybil, and three natives of Uberwald from the Watch: Angua (werewolf), Cheery Littlebottom (dwarf), and Detritus (troll).
Things of course start to go wrong immediately, and Vimes is the perfect POV on it all. His mix of practical cleverness, stubbornness, and cultural in/sensitivity make for an extremely entertaining read. The dwarfs’ Scone of Stone, which they need for the coronation (a play on the historical Stone of Scone) has been stolen, as well as the replica housed in the dwarf Museum of Bread in Ankh-Morpork, and Vimes is determined to solve both crimes, whether or not his help is wanted (it’s not; sort of).
My favorite parts of this were all to do with Vimes interacting with dwarf society, back home or in Uberwald. Pratchett uses the dwarfs (and to a lesser extent the other two races) to comment on lots of real life issues, like immigration, and old country vs. new country, which all leads to lots of (humorous) meditation on when to hold to tradition, and when to evolve. Vimes is always a good lens for this, because he *wants* to understand, and he mostly succeeds, but there’s always a level of permanent befuddlement there that leads to a lot of really good one-liners. As he himself would be the first person to point out, he’s a small-picture kind of guy.
I’ve been working through these book since I was eighteen, and I kind of sort of thought I’d never run out, because there are SO MANY of them. But I think I’ve finally reached the point where my brain realizes there is an end point to Discworld. I only have seventeen more left. Maybe I should slow my pace from three a year to one or two. On the other hand, there’s always re-reading.