JINGO

by Terry Pratchett

Gollancz

0-575-06540-0

285pp/16.99/November 1997

Jingo
Cover by Josh Kirby

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


Rising from the Circle Sea between Ankh-Morpork and Klatch, the sunken land of Leshp touches off the action in Jingo, the latest of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. Fishermen from both Ankh-Morpork and Klatch lay claim to the island, resulting in mobilization for war. In Ankh-Morpork, only two voices can be heard speaking against the action: Commander Sir Samuel Vimes and the Patrician, Lord Havelock Vetinari.

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From the Discworld Mapp
Copyright 1995, Corgi Books

Jingo does not contain as many laugh-out-loud moments as many of the Discworld novels, but there are still many humorous moments in the book as Pratchett makes his statements about war, but moreso about the nature of mobs, civic pride and nationalism. This is not the first time war has made its effects known on the Discworld. In Interesting Times, Rincewind stumbled into war on the Counterweight Continent. However, Pratchett's focus is very different between the two books. Jingo looks less at war itself, and more at its effects on the population.

This examination is carried out through the eyes of two of the most capable denizens of the Discworld, Vimes and Vetinari (Captain Carrot would form a third to this triumvirate). While Vimes is a long established character, the Patrician has been around longer. Pratchett's inclusion of the Patrician as an active character unfortunately dilutes his appearance. In previous novels, the Patrician has had, at most a few lines of dialogue. He remained a distant and feared father figure. By actually incorporating Vetinari into the plot, Pratchett also humanizes him, even as he gives demonstrations of the Patrician's omnipotence.

One of the things Pratchett has traditionally done ot achieve the humor in his novel is to weave historical, literary and cinematographic events into the books. This works because they provide touchstones we all know and can touch on. In Jingo, a novel about war, he continues to do this, notably with the Kennedy assassination and Jules Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but at the same time he misses several easy targets: Lawrence of Arabia, Duck Soup, Apocalypse Now, etc. At other places, Pratchett does include vague references, but fails to follow up on them (one such involves another sunken island, well known in horror circles.)

The Discworld stories which revolve around the Ankh-Morpork City Watch are among the best in the series, both from a literary and an entertainment point of view. Jingo continues to reflect the quality of the last watch novel, Feet of Clay and allows the reader to put behind the dark Hogfather. Looking back over the last several Discworld novels, I would have to say, more of the watch, more of the witches, more Rincewind. Perhaps fewer novels focussing on DEATH and HIS relatives.


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