Sunday, 30 May 2010

The Fifth Elephant

by Terry Pratchett. Read by Stephen Briggs.

So I bought an audiobook! I've listened to a couple before, and it's a really good experience. I either have them on while going on epic walks along the Norfolk coast, or I listen to half an hour each night in bed.

I've only done it for books I've already read so far, otherwise I'd feel under pressure to pay too much attention. I read The Fifth Elephant ages ago. The same applies to all Pratchett, I read them ages ago. Except the recent ones, which I read... recently.

As you may or may not know (an ambiguous state of affairs that will be rectified forever by this very sentence) I love Pratchett. Or Tezza P, to his friends. The Pratch. T-Bone. But I've also read his whole catalogue, more than once per book, and so it's not a love that I partake in regularly. This love is not, to the horror of DCTalk, a verb. It's a state of being. It also makes it dificult to review.

What do I think of this particular novel? It's incredibly full. It's a thriller and a mystery and a political whodunnit and all those other things that I don't usually read, but it's also about people doing peopley things like relating, with varying degrees of failure, to other people.

And there's all that fantasy stuff, and jokes (laughing out loud is more natural when you hear something than when you read it, it turns out), and it's probably a parody of hundreds of things I don't know of, so the parodies pass me by. Which is how I like it really; parodies being a thing of the 'humour' shelves in bookshops*.

I'm useless at talking about Pratchett, because I am a fan, not a critic. Half the point of this blog is to teach myself how to be both at once, but most of that can wait until I read a Pratchett again.

The reading itself was excellent, though. I can talk about that. Our man Stephen Briggs... he did the voices. Bear in mind these are characters I've known and loved and grown with (flipping VIMES)... and he gives them voices. Risky business. I'm sure there's stuff in the text that imply that Carrot has a Welsh accent, or that Vimes has a bit of cockney twang, but I never picked up on them. I ignore that sort of stuff.

But every time I heard Briggs giving them the voice, it was spot on. 'Oh, of course that's what she sounds like!' sort of thing.

Conclusion: I will be buying and listening to more audiobooks. Maybe the whole of Discworld? If they've all been done by Briggs, that is. And if I discover lots of money next time I look inside my ukulele.

And: Pratchett is the lemur's femur. The slug's mug. The mouse's spouse... et cetera.

*Humour shelves in bookshops don't have to be so bad. There's Miles Kington and Robin Cooper and Andy Riley and Parkinson and Peanuts, and all that narrative non-fiction like Danny Wallace and Dave Gorman. Which all prompt the question, why fill the shelves with Crap Roundabouts 2, Isn't Stuff Shit? Well Isn't It?, The World According To Whatever-that-guy-from-Fifth-Gear-is-called, and A List Of Things That Rhyme With Douche?


  1. My middle child just got a ukulele for her birthday. Do you think I should check inside it for money? And if I find any, do I get to keep it for myself?

  2. I think the implication is that ALL Dwarves are Welsh, it's a mining thing.

    The audiobooks are fantastic, the Tony Robinson read ones are interesting. I'm not so sure on his voices for his ideas of the characters. Maybe worth comparing and contrasting?

    Pratchett or T'Pratch as I look at him is the shizz.

  3. I find audiobooks are vastly improved if you like the person they hired to read them. Not only do you get the fun of reading (handsfree!) a good book, but you also get a more child-like delight in hearing a nice voice as well. I have the first Hornblower book read by Ioan Gruffudd for very much this reason.

    As for the perfect marriage of comedy and audiobook: Holidays on Ice read by the author David Sedaris. I laughed until I gave myself an asthma attack.

    P.S. Couldn't the Dwarves be Yorkshiremen as well then? Aren't there mines there? I'm foreign.

  4. there are. and i think not all dwarves are welsh, there's different... dialects. there's the copperhead mines, and stuff. and ankh-morpork street dwarfish, which vimes knows a bit of.

    kathy-- i've been looking for money inside my ukulele since i got it a few years ago. so far, nothing. but i'm an optimist.

  5. So . . . is money in your ukulele some sort of reference that I didn't get, or was it really just as random as it sounded to me? (I'm pulling for the latter. I think it's more funny that way.)

  6. yeah, definitely the latter. i know that if i was a secretive, rich and benevelont goblin, a ukulele is exactly the sort of place i would leave gifts of money to strangers.