Summary and book reviews of The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant

A Novel of Discworld

by Terry Pratchett

The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett X
The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2000, 321 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2001, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Everyone knows that the world is flat, and supported on the backs of four elephants. But weren't there supposed to be five? What happened to the fifth elephant is only one of the many perplexing mysteries solved in this new novel by today's most celebrated fantasy humorist.

Everyone knows that the world is flat, and supported on the backs of four elephants. But weren't there supposed to be five? Indeed there were, and what happened to the fifth elephant is only one of the many perplexing mysteries solved in this new novel by today's most celebrated fantasy humorist.

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent Discworld novels have been number one bestsellers in England for more than a decade, securing him a position in the pantheon of satire and parody alongside Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen. Pratchett's fame, like his imagination, is now going global--if such a term can be used in connection with an author whose creation is so uncompromisingly (though no longer quite so unfashionably) flat.

Which brings us back to the missing mythical pachyderm. The Fifth Elephant begins, like so many of Pratchett's satirical inventions, with an invitation. This one is both royal and engraved, requiring that Commander Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork constabulary attend as both detective and diplomat. The one role he relishes; the other, well, requires ruby tights.

Where cops (even those clad in tights) go, crime of course, follows--and an attempted assassination and a theft soon lead to a desperate chase from the low halls of Discworld royalty to the legendary fat mines of Uberwald, where lard is found in underground seams along with tusks and teeth and other precious ivory artifacts.

Vimes's "elephant" adventure is as profound as it is hilarious, sending up every aspect of modern life from royalty (a British specialty) to bureaucrats (inescapable anywhere), from cops (especially those unusually dressed) to criminals (who, like fools, have their own guild), from fantasy literature to satire itself.

The world is busy discovering Terry Pratchett. Shouldn't you be doing your part? 



They say the world is flat and supported on the back of four elephants who themselves stand on the back of a giant turtle.


They say that the elephants, being such huge beasts, have bones of rock and iron, and nerves of gold for better conductivity over long distances.


They say that the fifth elephant came screaming and trumpeting through the atmosphere of the young world all those years ago and landed hard enough to split continents and raise mountains.


No one actually saw it land, which raised the interesting philosophical point: When millions of tons of angry elephant come spinning through the sky, but there is no one to hear it, does it-philosophically speaking-make a noise?


And if there was no one to see it hit, did it actually hit?


In other words, wasn't it just a story for children, to explain away some interesting natural occurrences?


As for the dwarfs, whose legend it is, and who mine a lot deeper than other people, they say that there is a grain of ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Unadulterated fun. Pratchett parodies everything in sight.

Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
Consistently, inventively mad . . . wild and wonderful!

The Times (London)
Other writers are now mining the rich seam of comic fantasy that Pratchett first unearthed, but what keeps Pratchett on top is--quite literally, the way he tells them.

Library Journal
The latest installment in Pratchett's popular Discworld series features sendups of politics and communications technology, along with a hearty dose of cosmic comedy and genuine slapstick humor. Suitable for newcomers to the series as well as regular series followers.

Author Blurb A. S. Byatt
Discworld is more complicated and satisfactory than Oz. Truly original. Pratchett creates a brilliant excess of delectable detail!

Author Blurb Elizabeth Peters
If I were making my list of Best Books of the Twentieth Century, Terry Pratchett's would be most of them.

Reader Reviews

Tobie

As a long-time Pratchett fan, I loved the way this book kept three or for seperate plotlines going simultaneously, as well as giving us another look at some old favorites like Angua, Carrot, Vimes, Cherry, etc. The plot twists and mystery going on ...   Read More

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Terry Pratchett

If you liked The Fifth Elephant, try these:

  • Shades of Grey jacket

    Shades of Grey

    by Jasper Fforde

    Published 2011

    About this book

    More books by this author

    An astonishing, hotly anticipated new novel from the great literary fantasist and creator of Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds.

  • The Book of Dave jacket

    The Book of Dave

    by Will Self

    Published 2007

    About this book

    More books by this author

    London cabdriver Dave Rudman’s wife deserts him for another man taking their only son with her. Fearing his son will never know him, Dave writes him a book containing his experience and thoughts - and then buries it, intending it for him when he comes of age. Five hundred years later, the Book of Dave is discovered, where it becomes a sacred...

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Age of Living Machines
    The Age of Living Machines
    by Susan Hockfield
    In the face of looming global challenges, such as overpopulation, resource depletion and disease, Dr...
  • Book Jacket
    The Mars Room
    by Rachel Kushner
    There is palpable tension between expectation and reality in Rachel Kushner's third novel. The ...
  • Book Jacket: The Guest Book
    The Guest Book
    by Sarah Blake
    Sarah Blake's critically-acclaimed third novel The Guest Book was a hit with our First Impressions ...
  • Book Jacket: How It Feels to Float
    How It Feels to Float
    by Helena Fox
    Even though Biz's dad has been dead for ten years, he constantly visits her and tells stories about ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    More News Tomorrow
    by Susan Richards Shreve

    An irresistible portrait of a family drawn together in search of truth.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Her Kind of Case
by Jeanne Winer

A highly-recommended emotion-filled legal drama with three starred reviews!

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Conviction

Conviction by Denise Mina

The captivating, utterly unforgettable new thriller for fans of Killing Eve and The Woman in the Window

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

L A Let L

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.