Apologies for the hiatus in posting. My health has not been of the finest and I have tended to be sprawled asleep at the keyboard rather than alertly typing away.
It is time, now that the summer holidays are here, to get back in the book blogging saddle and tell you about our experiences of reading The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett. This is the twenty fourth book in the Discworld series, and one which I had very little recollection of when Oscar started reading it to me. As he read on, snippets came back to me, and I wondered why I had so comprehensively forgotten it, as I enjoyed it very much indeed the second time around.
The book focuses on Commander Samuel Vimes of The City Watch, as he takes on a new role as a diplomat, trying to forge relations with the dwarves of Uberwald, and find out what exactly has happened to the Scone of Stone, which is needed for the ceremony to elect the new king of the dwarves. Sub plots involve Captain Carrot and Angua and their complex, dwarf/human/werewolf relationship and just what happens to the Ankh Morpork City Watch when Colon is left in charge.
Oscar loved it because the Watch stories are his favourite, particularly any scenes that involve Nobby Nobs, and I loved it because it really hammers home the point that by this time, Pratchett had gone way beyond the traditional limits of fantasy and is writing in a much more philosophical vein about all the foibles of being human. This is particularly underscored in his handling of the Uberwald class system, and the things about the dwarves that Vimes discovers. It foreshadows his material about goblins in the very last books he wrote.
There are the usual comic touches, but The Fifth Elephant is so much darker than the early works and, to my mind more multi faceted, showing the different layers of understanding and discovery that Pratchett was exploring. Whether a child reader will pick this up or not is largely irrelevant as the stories bear reading over and over again, and as my delight in rediscovering this attests, will last a lifetime of re-examination.