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The Fifth Elephant

(Discworld #24)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  68,300 ratings  ·  1,523 reviews
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that mastering it is a lifetime's work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It's not something you can just pick up on the job.

Which is a shame if you find yourself dropped unaccountably into a
Paperback, 464 pages
Published November 6th 2008 by Corgi (first published November 1999)
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Pixellle Because there are so many books in the Discworld series, it can be daunting for a new reader. However, a reading order is necessary, as characters gro…moreBecause there are so many books in the Discworld series, it can be daunting for a new reader. However, a reading order is necessary, as characters grow and change considerably through the series. But the Discworld series is actually made up of 4 or 5 smaller series, which follow a set of characters.

The best, and most common, approach is to to read each *sub-series* in order. Since each sub-series consists of a very manageable number of books, it's an easy way to tackle Discworld.

Here's a chart showing the order of the different series within Discworld:

By the way, if you google this question, you will get many responses, and some very good charts.

Cassandra Hiding the entire review means that, on the list of reviews, yours says something like this review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To vi…moreHiding the entire review means that, on the list of reviews, yours says something like this review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here
(which, when clicked, reveals the full review)

If you have a few spoilers in the review, you can use the "hide spoiler" function: type "<spoiler>" where it starts and "</spoiler>" where it finishes. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.23  · 
Rating details
 ·  68,300 ratings  ·  1,523 reviews

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Start your review of The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24; City Watch, #5)
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
You know what Goodreads *really* needs? The ability for someone to leave multiple reviews of a book that they've read at multiple points in their life.

I'd like to talk about my recent thoughts on this book, but I don't want to erase my old review or change the date on it.

Think how nice it would be to look back on your reading history and see how your attitudes have changed over the course of your life. Books you loved as a kid that pale as you mature, versus books you liked when you were young
Mario the lone bookwolf
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pratchett-terry
Diplomaticing anything out of the downplaying of an incident around a just ideologically not completely worthless and overrated cult object.

The fine art of not going to war or, if so, at least sophisticated, with style, culture, and the right documents bureaucracy wants to see before the slaughter fun can start, that´s what diplomacy is for. Already ridiculous in real life, because the madness of tradition, ideology, and dogmas makes each country a special, unique mental asylum, it gets even mor
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy
I know that many have stated that there had been a decline in his writing as time goes on… I personally would have to disagree. There is a change in his writing; however I feel that it has been for the better. As his book have progressed, he has leaned less toward the quick giggle and insane rush of nonsense and more toward a satirical plot with darker edges and the giggles interspersed within the story rather than his jokes running the story.

The Fifth Elephant is one of Pratchett’s more plot dr
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24; City Watch, #5), Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, the 24th book in the Discworld series.

The Ankh-Morpork City Watch is expanding; there is now a Traffic department with traffic cameras implemented using iconograph technomancy and a wheel clamping team, and the clacks are beginning to replace homing pigeons for communications between officers.

The Watch is also investigating the theft of the replica Scone
“Let me see if I've got this right,' said Vimes. 'Überwald is like this big suet pudding that everyone's suddenly noticed, and now with this coronation as an excuse we've all got to rush there with knife, fork and spoon to shovel as much on our plates as possible?'
'Your grasp of political reality is masterly, Vimes. Your lack only the appropriate vocabulary.”

“Vetinari was throwing him amongst the wolves. And the dwarfs. And the vampires. Vimes shuddered. And Vetinari never did anything without a
Jun 06, 2017 rated it liked it
“So this is diplomacy.  It’s like lying, only to a better class of people.”

So says Sam Vimes / Terry Pratchett in his 1999 novel The Fifth Elephant. Discworld fans also know that this 24th Discworld book was a return of the wonderfully entertaining City Watch sub series. In this edition, Pratchett has the Duke of Ankh go to Uberwald on a diplomatic mission for which Vimes is uniquely qualified.

Pratchett had previously visited the vampires in Uberwald in the 23rd Discworld book, 1998’s Carpe Jugu
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2019-shelf, humor

But you know what? Other than the whole dwarf rock bits, the murders, werewolves, theft, and Detritus's exploding crossbow, I SWEAR this is a book about Brexit.

Of course, it could really be about making the European Union, but really it's about Brexit. Überwald is, of course, England. It's kinda obvious. Backward, reactionary, full of wolves, vampires, and werewolves. And Igors. Of course, Igors.

Isn't that amazing? How did Pratchett predict all these events back in 1999? Hello, dwarves!

May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So much is happening in this 24th Discworld novel.

A dwarf king will be crowned in Überwald so the Patrician is sending Sam Vimes in his capacity as duke to participate in the coronation ceremony. As, no doubt, planned by the Patrician, sending Vimes ensures that justice will be done. Because there is a theft, a murder, diplomacy, a lot of very impolite werewolves, "vegetarian" vampires and plots. Oh, and then there are regular wolves, Gaspode, and some members of the Watch (Carrot, Angua, Detrit
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aw, man!

First the Scone of Stone goes missing. Then Angua disappears and Carrot is off to find her. With Sam Vimes on his way to the coronation in Uberwald, that leaves Fred Colon as Acting Captain of the Watch. The horror, the horror! He annoys everyone and makes a general mess of everything...not to mention that his "principles" make him reluctant to investigate the death of a local manufacturer of rubber preventatives.

Sound confusing? It's not. At least, not yet.

Throw in some assorted dwarf
Apr 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, fantasy
Part of the Pratchett reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group in 2019.

In the country of Uberwald the Low King of the dwarfs is about to be crowned. As the second largest dwarf city in the world Ankh-Morpork needs to seen a representative and the Patrician decides on the Duke of Ankh, Commander Sam Vimes. But Uberwald is a country in careful balance between vampires, werewolves and dwarfs and politics are afoot, particularly as Vimes includes Sergeant Detritus and Corporal Cheery Littlebottom i
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, comedy

Back to form after a disappointing outing last time with Jingo. This is another stonking effort in the Watch sub-series making it hard for me not to start raving about them to people and tell them if they’ve not read them then they need to pick them up and get cracking!

Plot wise things are shaken up again. I did groan a little when I learnt that Vimes would yet again be leaving Ankh-Morpork for a distant land like in the last novel, but this time it proved to be an inspired choice and work
“Well, he thought, so this is diplomacy. It's lying, only for a better class of people.”

"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 v
Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー
Another fantastic entry in the Watch series, possibly one of my favourites. Lots of character development and a fun plot. There's not much to say since this is a sequel and I wouldn't want to spoil it for future readers, but boy does Terry Pratchett make politics fun. Add a dash of werewolves, a sprinkle of vampires and a whole lot of Igors, and you've got a great book. ...more
Feb 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The Fifth Elephant is the fifth book in the Watch subseries of Discworld. As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, my enjoyment of the Watch books has grown as the series has progressed. With this book however, I wasn’t as entertained by it as I had been by the last couple. I’m not sure if it was the book or if it was me, since I was traveling on business this week and I was surprisingly tired even though it wasn’t a particularly strenuous trip. There were also a lot of distractions during the bul ...more
Di Maitland
I hate writing reviews for Terry Pratchett books. I just feel so bad about giving a Pratchett book 3*s. The trouble is, they're not bad. I would hate for people to get the impression that I don't like them. I do. It's just that I like particularly aspects of them a lot, and some aspects of them only a little.

The 'A Lot' Parts
Pratchett's world-building is to die for. You could play bingo with the number of different creatures he manages to include in his books. In The Fifth Elephant, we had:
- Hum
I want to embark on an chronological Discworld in memoriam reread, but for now I started by revisiting The Fifth Elephant for Reasons. Gosh, I love this book: diplomacy and spycraft set in an old Germanic continent, in which the Gothic runs rife, the forests are deep and dark and dangerous, and there are supernatural beasties around every corner. (The races to get home before sunset being a fun Uberwaldean hobby is just the cutest.)

What struck me the most about rereading this book is that while
Sophie Narey (Bookreview- aholic)
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy novels and other Terry Pratchett novels
Published : 6/11/2008
Author: Terry Pratchett

Another amazing book written by an amazing author! In this book we see the characters Nobby Nobbs, the wonderful Sam Vines, Havelock Vetinari , Carrot Ironfoundsson plus many more amazing characters. The setting of this novel is Uberwald. This is book 5 in the City Watch part in the Discworld novels.
This is another great book that transports us into the world that he has created, we go on the adventure with the characters, get to know them and enjoy
Kaethe Douglas
2010 October 3

I'd have given him five stars for the riff on The Cherry Orchard alone. Vampires, werewolves, politics, fat mining. Pratchett manages to write a really fun book that is also a mystery as well as a keen satire on emigrants and the old country.

Personal copy

2014 September 23
2018 February
Κωνσταντίνος Κέλλης
May 2018: “This, milord, is my family's axe. We have owned it for almost nine hundred years, see. Of course, sometimes it needed a new blade. And sometimes it has required a new handle, new designs on the metalwork, a little refreshing of the ornamentation . . . but is this not the nine hundred-year-old axe of my family? And because it has changed gently over time, it is still a pretty good axe, y'know. Pretty good.”

Just like the Dwarf King's Axe, this is still the same book read by the same per
David Sarkies
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Another City Watch Story
28 November 2016

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 fortunatel
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to apple by: Teena R.
Shelves: fantasy
Please allow me one quick soul-searching moment. Before I was introduced to the awesomeness of Discworld…I was just an empty shell of a fan

I haven’t picked up Discworld book for quite some time (last one I read was Jingo) so reading the Fifth Elephant kind of gave me the warm and fuzzy feeling of falling in love with Sir Terry Pratchett’s work all over again. I think this book is the most action-packed volume in City Watch series yet. Imagine Bruce Willis all decked out in tights with British ac
Jul 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Complete Discworld Reread

And just like that the series starts to change. Opens up, shows signs that Discworld is not just a series of random places where things happen but is instead a living, breathing world. People interact, and not just for war. ‘Foreign places’ are not just places to visit and fix; they are places where people live and cultures thrive. The signs that Pratchett’s series is going to start exploring the effects of some major technological changes are present but not yet runnin
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
City Watch, vampires, dwarves, werewolves and Pratchett's great sense of humour and perception of people - what's not to like :). Maybe not the best but certainly not the worst. ...more
Ms. Smartarse
First, the new Low King is to be crowned all the way in Uberwald. For some reason (i.e. Lord Vetinari's) this translates into a diplomatic holiday for our favorite City Watch Commander; that is to say the Duke and Duchess of Ankh of course. Interestingly enough, the famed Scone of Stone has just been stolen from the Dwarf Bread Museum. Luckily it's only a replica, although it is said to be a damn good one...

Suspicious Dr. Who

Secondly, Angua suddenly disappears without a trace prompting Carrot to resign his post a
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, 2019
This is the first Discworld audio that is narrated by Stephen Briggs instead of Nigel Planer. He did a good job, but I am missing the specific voices that Nigel Planer did, so Briggs will take some getting used to.

I will have to listen to this audiobook again someday to fully grasp the entire story as I was a bit preoccupied with other things this week. But I always love the characters of the Watch so this couldn't help but be a good book. Although I think my favorite parts in this particular bo
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star, own
Another fantastic installment.

It was super great to see the world outside of Ankh Morpork and explore more of Discworld. This one dealt specifically with the immigrant diaspora, belonging, cultural shifts and evolution.

It's just super interesting to watch Sam Vines change, he'd made such a huge journey from being a drunk to being a wily politician. The other characters have changed too, but not as much, and sometimes I do wish we would focus on them.

I would love to read about Cheery's internal t
This book has one of the scariest scenes I've read in a discworld book so far. I was really afraid a particular character I care about would die.

Also in this book Igor and Vimes really have a shining role, so if you like them, this is definetly the book for you. Especially if you also always wanted to know more about vampires, dwarves and werewolves of the Discworld universe.

This feels like a very mature discworld book, in the sense that the story is very well-constructed and has some serious
Lars Dradrach
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
It difficult not to treat these very last Discworld books as special treats to be savoured (after reading this i have 10 books left and only 3 in the City watch series). and the time felt right for a "terry pratchett moment".

The Fifth Elephant is Diplomacy among werewolves, vampires and dwarfes (even dwarf ladies !), it's the City Watch going abroad and most of all its a Classic Discword novel with all the irony and quirky comments.

Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: uk, fantasy
The think I love about the City Watch books is that they make me feel that everything is possible.
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"So this is diplomacy. It's like lying, only to a better class of people."

In the twenty-fourth Discworld novel and fifth in the City Watch sub-series, Pratchett revisits the region of Überwald, populated by vampires, werewolves, dwarves, trolls, and Igors, which we'd only just gotten back from in the previous volume Carpe Jugulum , and so much is happening here.

The coronation of a new dwarf king is imminent, and Lord Vetinari sends Commander Vimes, Duke of Ankh, to attend as the Ankh-Morp
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Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, i

Other books in the series

Discworld (1 - 10 of 41 books)
  • The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1)
  • The Light Fantastic (Discworld, #2; Rincewind #2)
  • Equal Rites (Discworld, #3; Witches, #1)
  • Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1)
  • Sourcery (Discworld, #5; Rincewind #3)
  • Wyrd Sisters (Discworld, #6; Witches #2)
  • Pyramids (Discworld, #7)
  • Guards! Guards! (Discworld, #8; City Watch #1)
  • Eric (Discworld, #9; Rincewind #4)
  • Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10; Industrial Revolution, #1)

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