The Fifth Elephant

The book is (…yet) a(/nother) Terry Pratchett novel. I started the book yesterday evening and finished it this afternoon. I enjoyed it and gave it 5 stars on goodreads (average rating: 4.16) – it’s a funny book.

Some samples from the book below (I should note that I could easily have given this book 3 or 4 posts similar to this one – there’s a lot of funny stuff in there…):

“[‘]I see that the new traffic division is having the desired effect.’ He indicated a large pile of paper. ‘I am getting any amount of complaints from the Carters’ and Drovers’ Guild. Well done. Do pass on my thanks to Sergeant Colon and his team.’
‘I will, sir.’
‘I see in one day they clamped seventeen carts, ten horses, eighteen oxen and one duck.’
‘It was parked illegally, sir.’
‘Indeed. However, a strange pattern seems to emerge.’
‘Many of the carters say that they were not in fact parked but had merely halted while an extremely old and extremely ugly lady crossed the road extremely slowly.’
‘That’s their story, sir.’
‘They know she was an old lady by her constant litany on the lines of “Oh deary me, my poor old feet,” and similar expressions.’
‘Certainly sounds like an old lady to me, sir,’ said Vimes, his face wooden.
‘Quite so. What is rather strange is that several of them report seeing the old lady subsequently legging it away along an alley rather fast. I’d discount this, of course, were it not for the fact that the lady has apparently been seen crossing another street, very slowly, some distance away shortly afterwards. Something of a mystery, Vimes.'”

“Vimes nodded dourly. That made sense, too. You did something because it had always been done, and the explanation was ‘But we’ve always done it this way.’ A million dead people can’t have been wrong, can they?”

“I think you can assume, sir, that any dwarf who rises sufficiently in dwarf society to even be considered as a candidate for the kingship did not get there by singing the hi-ho song and bandaging wounded animals in the forest.”

Sam Vimes could parallel-process. Most husbands can. They learn to follow their own line of thought while at the same time listening to what their wives say. And the listening is important, because at any time they could be challenged and must be ready to quote the last sentence in full. A vital additional skill is being able to scan the dialogue [technically ‘monologue’, but…] for telltale phrases, such as ‘and they can deliver it tomorrow’ or ‘so I’ve invited them for dinner’ or ‘they can do it in blue, really quite cheaply.’
Lady Sybil was aware of this. Sam could coherently carry an entire conversation while thinking about something completely different. […] Sybil was impressed. Ears operating entirely on automatic had nevertheless triggered the mouth into making a small but pertinent contribution.
She said, ‘Do you think we should take the alligator with us?’
‘Yes, that might be advisable.’
She watched his face. Small furrows formed on Vimes’s brow as the ears nudged the brain. He blinked. ‘What alligator?'”

“‘And you went around the back and saw the broken window and you …?’
‘I called out, “Is there anyone there?” sir.’
‘Really? And what would you have done if a voice had said “No”? No, don’t answer that.”

“What would be the point of cyphering messages that very clever enemies couldn’t break? You’d end up not knowing what they thought you thought they were thinking…”

“‘Can you think of any reason why someone would kill him?’
The troll scratched his head. ‘Well, ‘cos dey wanted him dead, I reckon. Dat’s a good reason.’ […and ‘dat’s a good answer…’] […]
‘Right. I suppose no one saw the murder, did they?’
Once again the troll screwed up its enormous face in thought.
‘Der murderer, yeah, an’ prob’ly Mister Sonky.’ [Mister Sonky was the murder victim..]
‘Was there a third party?’
‘I dunno, I never get invited to dem fings.'”

“Places to buy food were getting scarce. However carefully Carrot knocked at the door of some isolated farmstead, he’d end up having to talk to people who were hiding under the bed. People here were not used to the idea of muscular men with swords who were actually anxious to buy things.
In the end it generally worked out quicker to walk in, go through the contents of the pantry and leave some money on the table for when the people came up out of the cellar.”

‘What a fine figure of a man,’ said Sybil weakly, as they stepped inside. [talking about an Igor’]
‘More than one man, by the look of him.’
‘Sorry. I’m sure his heart’s in the right place.’
‘Or someone’s heart, anyway.’
‘Sam, really!’
‘All right, all right, but you must admit he does look a bit … odd.’
‘None of us can help the way we’re made, Sam.’
‘It looks as if he tried—‘”

“‘I thought you were Igor.’
‘Oh, you mean my couthin Igor,’ said Igor. ‘He workth down at the embathy. How’th he getting on?’
‘Er, he’s looking … well,’ said Vimes. ‘Pretty … well. Yes.’
‘Did he mention how Igor’th getting on, thur?’ said Igor […] [‘]none of uth have heard from him, not even Igor, who’th alwayth been very clothe.’
‘I’m sorry? Is your whole family called Igor?’
‘Oh, yeth, thur. It avoidth confuthion.’ […]
‘Igor and Igor send their regards, Igor.’
‘Thank you, your exthellenthy. Thinthe you mention it, could I put a parthel on your coach for Igor?’
‘You mean the Igor at the embassy?’
‘That’th who I thaid, thur,’ said Igor patiently. ‘He athked me if I could lend him a hand.’
‘Yes, no problem there.’
‘Good. It’th well wrapped up and the ithe will keep it nithe and freth.'”

“[‘]I believe you ver an alcoholic, Sir Samuel.’
”’No,’ said Vimes, completely taken aback. ‘I was a drunk. You have to be richer than I was to be an alcoholic.'”

“‘My husband is a little unwell at the moment,’ said Serafine, in the special wife voice which Vimes recognized as meaning ‘He thinks he’s fine right now, but just you wait until I get him alone.'”

“What was the simple solution? Best to start with the first rule of policing: suspect the victim. Vimes wasn’t quite sure who the victim was here, though. So suspect the witness. That was another good rule.”


January 14, 2014 - Posted by | Books, Terry Pratchett

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