The Truth: A Novel of Discworld
In this, his twenty-fifth Discworld novel, Pratchett turns his pen on, well, the pen. Or, rather, the press, and its power to disseminate and create the truth. The lesser son of one of Ankh most privileged families, William de Worde a struggling scribe, hits on the brilliant idea of producing his upper-crust newsletter with a newfangled printing press.
Truer to the family motto, Le Mot juste, than his disapproving father can ever realize, de Worde soon finds that his Ankh-Morpork Times is a success. So big, in fact, that certain nefarious factions would like nothing better than to put him out of business. They begin their own rival Ankh-Morpork Inquirer—full of salacious bits—to do just that. Soon, though, de Worde has more than just the competition to fret over. Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, is accused of a serious crime in a seemingly airtight case. But William de Worde knows that facts aren’t always the truth. Along with a much too prim and proper assistant, a roving photographer vampire with a nasty reaction to his flashgun, and a talking dog who holds the key to the mystery, William de Worde will stop at nothing to get the truth.
And that’s the truth.
A dead-on look at the revered fifth estate, the nature of news, and bareknuckled political intrigue, The Truth shall make you free. From everything else you’d be doing instead of enjoying it, that is.
The Truth, Pratchett’s 25th Discworld novel, skewers the newspaper business. When printing comes to Ankh-Morpork, it “drag(s) the city kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat.” Well, actually, out of the Century of the Fruitbat. As the Bursar remarks, if the era’s almost over, it’s high time they embraced its challenges.
William de Worde, well-meaning younger son of reactionary nobility, has been providing a monthly newsletter to the elite using engraving. Then he is struck (and seriously bruised) by the power of the press. The dwarves responsible convince William to expand his letter and the Ankh-Morpork Times is born. Soon William has a staff, including Sacharissa Cripslock, a genteel young lady with a knack for headline writing, and photographer Otto Chriek. Otto’s vampirism causes difficulties: flash pictures cause him to crumble to dust and need reconstitution, and he must battle his desire for blood, particularly Sacharissa’s. When Lord Vetinari is accused of attempted murder, the City Watch investigates the peculiar circumstances, but William wants to know what really happened. The odds for his survival drop as his questions multiply.
The Truth is satirical, British, and full of sly jokes. Although this cake doesn’t rise quite as high as it did in previous volumes, even ordinary Pratchett is pretty darn good, and those who haven’t read a Discworld novel before can start here and go on to that incredible backlist. —Nona Vero