Another City Watch Story

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24) - Terry Pratchett

There was a time that I loved the adventures of Constable Carrot, Captain Vimes, and Nobby Nobbs, but is seems as of late the stories are starting to become really, really dry. Okay, maybe there are other factors, but I really don't seem to be able to get into the Pratchet books any more, to the point that I am starting to find them quite boring. Sure, there are probably people out there that will crucify me because I have spoken blasphemy, but fortunately those people are actually few and far between. As it happens a number of people I have spoken to have suggested that by this time, which is actually book number 24, is that the fun, wonder, and humour of the Discworld series is starting to reach its used by date.



The thing is that it seems that we only have two sets of protagonists in the stories – The Witches and the City Watch. In fact it seems that at this stage we are alternating between them. Actually, as I was reading this book I suddenly realised that it has actually been quite a while since Rincewind and the Wizards have been a major focus of a story (though I do believe there is one more coming up, but that is basically it). Sure, Rincewind did at first annoy me but the character sort of started to grow on me to the point that the last book that I can remember I quite enjoyed (I believe it was [book: The Last Continent], but the one set in Discworld's version of China was also quite good). However, now we just have the Watch trampsing off somewhere to do what the watch does, and in fact there is only a passing mention of a Fifth Elephant – the title actually doesn't have anything to do with the story itself.



What has happened is that Vimes is sent off to the Uberwald, which is a land inhabited by Dwarves, Werewolves, and Vampires, to strike a trade deal with the dwarves for fat (which was deposited there when the fifth elephant that carried the disc crashed into the area – pretty dumb idea I feel) that is buried beneath the land. However, while they are there the Scone of Stone, a mystical artifact that is important for the coronation of the low king of the dwarves as been stolen, and it is up to Vimes, and Constable Carrot, to get to the bottom of the situation.


Sure, Pratchet is still parodying aspects of our world, such us what is termed the Theseus Paradox – if an object's component parts are completely replaces is it still the same object. The classic example in my mind involves Captain Cook's Cottage. It is supposed to be the cottage that Captain Cook lived in in England, however was moved stone by stone to Australia. Okay, maybe it is not the 'Theseus Paradox' namely because the original stones and thatch are being moved as opposed to being replaced, however the original cottage was in England but it is now in the middle of a park in Melbourne, so is it the same cottage considering the location is basically on the other side of the world. Well, my position in this case is that it is not the same cottage, but a replica that has been built with the materials that comprised of the original cottage – the original cottage, in my mind, has been destroyed.


Anyway, that is beside the point, even though the idea was determining whether the Scone of Stone was the real Scone of Stone (and if you are not sure how to pronounce the word scone, just check out this Goodies Episode, there were other ideas in here as well, such as trade deals, oil (which is supposed to be the fat of the Elephant) and of course the tussles that occur between the dwarves and trolls (though we also have werewolves and vampires as well). The thing with the Uberwald is that it is supposed to be, in one sense, Eastern Europe, which is Europe but somewhat backward compared to Western Europe (though my closest experience of Eastern Europe would be Praque, and Greece, but Greece is technically the Balkans).


Anyway, I have to admit that I really don't feel to enthusiastic about writing much more on this book because it really didn't do all that much to inspire me, though I have to admit that it would be good to see them turn more of Pratchet's books into a live action television show in the same vein that they did with Colour of Magic and Light Fantastic.