For December I am reading books with one word titles. There are a surprising number of these including Jingo by Terry Pratchett which is the first I have finished. This is a reread for me as I enjoy all these books.
Terry’s Pratchett’s Discworld books are a delight. If you haven’t read them then you must give them a try although don’t start with the very first ones – I suggest Guards, Guards, Mort or Wyrd Sisters to begin. You can read each one separately but some of the later ones assume that you have a knowledge of the existing characters in the series and it might spoil your enjoyment if you don’t understand all of the allusions.
Jingo is a book featuring the Watch and Samuel Vimes. Vimes is one of my favourite characters in the series because he is so honest and full of integrity that it makes life very difficult for him. On the other hand he is also very streetwise and completely understands all the people of the city – and despises most of them, particularly the wealthy. There are other excellent characters too including Captain Carrot, the adopted dwarf and his werewolf girlfriend, the Patrician, Nobby and Sergeant Colon, and Lady Sybil.
All of the books say something about our own world through the filter of the Discworld and a series of puns but the author never makes the mistake of thinking that the message is so important that he doesn’t have to bother with character and plot. In Jingo the message is a bit more obvious than in some of the others but the story is still fun to engage with.
In the Discworld an island has risen from the sea floor and two countries have claimed it. This leads to minor skirmishes and then ultimately the unscrupulous warmongers become involved and diplomacy disintegrates with the danger of force being used. Vimes and the City Watch investigate the disappearance of a visiting prince and murder and maybe find out too much. Meanwhile tempers shorten and the temperature rises – Can Samuel Vimes stop full out war ?
The author has a lot to say here about acceptance and diversity and also about how we handle immigration. It is all very relevant and some of his points will cause you to wince as you read it. Another theme is the way that the poorer people are expendable in the pursuit of imperial power. The story works through a number of scenarios which are funny but also pointed.
This isn’t the funniest of the Discworld books. In my opinion that is Soul Music or Hogfather. It is, however, very funny, cleverly observed and entertaining. There is a lot of truth in this book and it is truth that we could all do with hearing.