by Terry Pratchett



326pp/$24.00/November 2000

The Truth
Cover by Josh Kirby
(British Edition)

Reviewed by Steven H Silver

Terry Pratchett has been building of several trends in his recent Discworld novels.  Vampires, for instance, first appeared in a major way in Carpe Jugulum, returned in The Fifth Elephant, and are again in evidence in Pratchettís newest Discworld novel, The Truth.

The Fifth Elephant saw the introduction to the Clacks, the Discís answer to Samuel Morse.  Pratchett demonstrated an interest in examining how the new technology would affect the lives and well-being of the Discís inhabitants.  In The Truth, the Clacks is joined by movable type and the Discís first newspaper.  Ankh-Morpork, of course, quickly invents all the techniques used by modern newspapers, especially their more unsavory elements.

The Ankh-Morpork Times is founded by William de Worde, a scion of a wealthy family who has broken from his father.  When he learns of the existence of a Dwarven printing press in Ankh-Morpork, he quickly begins putting out a newspaper.  The results place him in direct competition to the Engraverís Guild.  At the same time, de Worde and his band of fledgling journalists come across a major story when the Patrician is arrested for the attempted murder of one of his clerks.

Although many of Pratchettís traditional characters make an appearance in The Truth, they are seen from de Wordeís point of view.  Samuel Vimes comes across very differently than he does in the Watch novels, although his reputation as a difficult man is demonstrated clearly, as it hasnít been since Guard! Guards!  Other characters come across better, for instance, Pratchett adds dimensions to CMOT Dibbler which have never even been hinted at, but which are completely keeping in character with what was already known about him.

Pratchett includes several new and interesting characters for the first time in several novels.  Perhaps most intriguing is the glimpse he gives readers of the High Priest of Blind Io, Hughon Ridcully, brother of the famous Archchancellor.  Plotting murder and mayhem throughout the novel are a pair of hired guns, Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, with the latterís mix of violence and idiot-savant knowledge of art.  Working for de Worde are Sacharissa, his star journalist, who works for the paper despite being from a family of engravers, Goodmountain, the dwarf who operates the press, Goodmountainís associate Boddony, perhaps the most fun character in the novel, and Otto, the Discís first photographer, a profession made perilous by the fact that he is a vampire.

Whereas in Carpe Jugulum, the vampires learned how to overcome their weaknesses in order to more efficiently invade Lancre and feast of the inhabitantsí blood, by the time of The Truth, the knowledge to leave behind some of the aspects of vampirism have spread throughout the Disc and are being used by vampires who desire to become useful members of an integrated society.

 By introducing new characters, in addition to new situations, Pratchett is breathing additional life into the vibrant world he has created, leading to a novel which ranks among the best of the Discworld books, containing effective satire and combining it with a strong plot and intriguing characterizations.

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