Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Truth by Terry Pratchett

In Ankh-Morpork, the city thrives on rumors.  Of course, no one really knows what's going on, but that's okay.  But William de Worde doesn't think so.  He has renounced his wealthy family and must scratch out his own living.  He does so by sending letters to various men of influence telling them what is going on.

William's life changes when he meets Gunilla Goodmountain and his fellow dwarfs.  They have come to Ankh-Morpork to make their living and have brought their printing press with them.  William is entranced with the rapidity that news can be distributed and before you know it, he has created the first newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times.  He hires Sacharissa Cripslock, a beautiful girl who is determined to make her way as a writer and who seems perfect for the business.  He also hires Otto as the photographer.  Otto is a vampire and every time he takes a flash picture, he crumbles into ashes and must be reconstituted.  Together, the group soon has a thriving business.

But all is not well.  Another newspaper, The Inquirer, starts up and it has a different business plan.  It's so hard to figure out what is going on so they just make up stories.  Not the truth but very popular with the readers.  One of their stories is about the top administrator, Lord Vetinari.  He has disappeared and the rumor is that he stole money before his disappearance.  William is sure Lord Vetinari is innocent and in fact, in danger, but few believe him.  The appearance of two of the most murderous villains, Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, tends to back up William, but can he survive long enough to bring the truth to his readers?

This is the twenty-fifth novel in Terry Pratchett's enormously successful series, Discworld.  It was published in 2009, but is prescient of the 'truth' or 'false news' controversies swirling around in today's world.  The humor is sly and omnipresent.  Fans of Pratchett's world will rejoice in this title, and those, like me, for whom this is an introduction, will wonder what took them so long to discover Pratchett's genius.  This book is recommended for fantasy fans.

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