by Terry Pratchett
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that mastering it is a lifetime's work. But you do need a certain inclination in that direction. It's not something you can just pick up on the job.
Which is a shame if you find yourself dropped unaccountably into a position of some significant diplomatic responsibility. If you don't really do diplomacy or haven't been to school with the right foreign bigwigs or aren't even sure whether a nod is as good as a wink to anyone, sighted or otherwise, then things are likely to go wrong. It's just a question of how badly...
Has it really been over three years since we read Jingo (the previous book in this series)? I can't believe how fast the time goes...
I've only ever read Pratchett as a shared, read-aloud experience, and I think we usually select one of his novels at Donald's suggestion. I enjoy Pratchett's work while I'm reading it, but it doesn't seem to leave a lasting impression on me, other than a vague memory of "generally amusing". Part of the problem is that I just don't connect with his work emotionally, for some reason. (Well, maybe with poor little Gaspode... What can I say? I have a soft spot for dogs!)
So, knowing how I typically react to Pratchett, The Fifth Elephant was as expected. It was entertaining. Parts of it were very funny. I enjoyed reading it (except maybe for a few parts, such as some of the comparatively dull dwarf stuff... and Angua's angst, which merely annoyed me, because evidently I'm not a huge Angua fan).
It was a good experience, all told-- but no matter how many of these books I read, I don't think I'll ever feel like I truly care about most of these characters or think about them unprompted in my daily life, the way you do with some of your favorite books and characters.
The next time Donald suggests Pratchett, I'll probably give my usual mental shrug. "Eh, yeah, ok. Might as well." I'm sure I'll enjoy it once we're reading, but the prospect won't fill me with great excitement, because it never does! (I even feel a little guilty about it, but there it is!)
However, because I do enjoy (most of) the reading in the moment, I'll grant this one 3.75 stars and round up to four.