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The Truth
Terry Pratchett
Doubleday Transworld Publishers, 320 pages / HarperCollins, 336 pages

Josh Kirby
The Truth
The Truth
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

SF Site Reading List: Terry Pratchett
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: City Watch Trilogy
SF Site Review: The Fifth Elephant
SF Site Review: The Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000
SF Site Review: The Science of Discworld
SF Site Review: The Last Continent
SF Site Review: Hogfather
SF Site Review: Jingo
SF Site Review: Feet of Clay
SF Site Review: Maskerade
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

In his recent novels, Terry Pratchett appears to have become more and more interested in the role technology plays in people's lives. In Carpe Jugulum, he introduced the clacks, the Disc's version of the telegraph. In The Truth, he demonstrates how to build on that technology by combining it with the dwarven invention of the printing press and the ingenuity of William de Worde.

De Worde uses the printing press to establish the Disc's first newspaper, The Ankh-Morpork Times. Pratchett uses the opportunity to re-examine several of his major characters from a different point of view. William de Worde is the younger scion of a noble family who turned his back on his family, their money, and their attitudes. He holds very distinct views on the way Ankh-Morpork is run and the people who run it, from Nobby Nobbs up to the Patrician.

This new viewpoint infuses The Truth with a freshness that has been lacking from many of Pratchett's recent books. Not only is the reader treated to an alternative look at Samuel Vimes and the other members of the town watch, Pratchett also includes a new cast of characters who quickly take on lives (or deaths) of their own. Perhaps most intriguing are Pratchett's new heavies, Mr. Tulip and Mr. Pin, who could give Pratchett's Mr. Teatime a run for his money. Dwarves are rife in The Truth, with Gunilla Goodmountain and Boddony being introduced and giving a glimpse of the arcane arts of dwarven mating rituals.

At the same time, Pratchett delves deeper into the workings of familiar, yet often overlooked characters. Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler is active throughout much of the novel, actually doing things rather than just making a brief appearance selling something which might be a sausage.

The Thieves' Guild is shown operating in its own peculiar manner and, of course, the Wizards of Unseen University make an appearance.

Certainly once the newspaper is publishing, it needs stories, and Pratchett quickly provides de Worde with items ranging from a man who grows lewdly shaped vegetables to gossip to major headlines. The Patrician is arrested for attempted murder and embezzlement. Although Pratchett does not leave the Patrician's innocence in doubt, he manages to build suspense by letting the reader try to figure out how the details will play out.

The Truth is not heavily laden with jokes or puns, but most of Pratchett's books tend to veer away from jokes and puns. Instead, Pratchett presents the humour of the situation and focuses on a motley array of strange characters who don't realize there is anything wrong with their view of the world, just like the rest of us. It is this realistic, if slightly skewed, version of his characters, which make The Truth such a strong novel -- and one that connects to the real world.

Pratchett has indicated that he is interested in exploring new areas of the Disc through different characters and settings. If The Truth is any indication of how he intends to make these explorations, the Disc is going to become a stronger and more vibrant setting, which should be able to garner legions of new fans in addition to the hordes Pratchett already commands.

Copyright © 2000 by Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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