The Truth Discussion **Spoilers**

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The Truth Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Mon May 02, 2011 5:19 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing The Truth in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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The Truth by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 2000


Image

William de Worde has got an easy sort of life. He writes a letter about things that happen in Ankh-Morpork and sends it to various foreign notaries for cash. It doesn’t take a lot of effort and it keeps him in figs. Then one day his life is turned upside down when a printing press comes to the city and he is literally press-ganged into starting the Discworld’s first newspaper.

Add to this a plot to oust the Patrician and the murderous New Firm of Mr Pin and Mr -ing Tulip and things will never be the same for William again.

-------------------------
I like this book. This is Terry writing about the city of Ankh-Morpork rather than just setting his stories there. And it’s the start of a good deal of change for the city that continues in later books like Going postal, Thud!, and Making Money.

There’s a whole lot of great stuff in there about the role that the Press plays in our own lives and how we’ve come, to a certain degree, to rely on the news media.

But what did you think?
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Thank you ChristianBecker for offering to do the into for next month's discussion (Feet of Clay) :wink:
Last edited by Tonyblack on Mon May 02, 2011 7:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby pandasthumb » Mon May 02, 2011 6:59 am

I also really enjoyed this book. I always enjoy the underlying discussion of our assumptions that occur in DW books. What is the 'Truth'? If something is written about in the paper (according to the lodgers around the breakfast table) then it must be true - otherwise it wouldn't be allowed to be put in the paper, but then when William seeks to set the record straight and print the truth about the Patrician - no one believes him. The other characters around the breakfast table state that the Patrician got away with it. So truth is not an absolute, which the Patrician tries to tell William at the beginning but he only comes to realise himself at the end.

I also really enjoy Mr Tulip, the fact that he is a hardened thug who appreciates art. Lovely. And I know that Rincewind would agree with me that it brings a warm glow to your heart that Ankh Morpork can discombobulate eve the nastiest type of criminal.

I do feel that the later William (say in Monstrous Regiment) is quite different to how he is portrayed here. He seems to later loose some of his sharpness. Sacharissa doesn't though. Even her full name is sharp. A name that doesn't stand for any nonsense.
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Postby meerkat » Mon May 02, 2011 9:28 am

1st reading of the truth and I thought it a bit bland, other than Mr Tulip who is a hoot! Then I read it again a few months later and I laughed like mad! I just hadn't seen the joke! What a send up of the Fleet Street Papers!
The spelling mistakes are a hoot for any of us old enough to read the 'broadsheets' of the day and then the arrival of a paper/magazine/toilet paper (honestly, I remember Mum cutting them up and putting them in the toilet!) called The Reveille(? spelling iffy). That used to have amazing stories in it and then in the middle would be a really true bit of news, and you'd ignore it, cos a talking cow had arrived in the Dales (or some other amazing similarity).

Mr Tulip - ~ing amazing character! He really didn't deserve to die. Perhaps he could come back from being a wood worm and become an art conisewer with a tendancy to ~ing swear a lot!

Did Goodmountain and Boddony get married? I really need to know! It is the one thing bugging me. It would have been nice to attend a Dwarf wedding.

As for William I think he is turning into a version of his father, only softer. He has realised what he can do with his life and has gone for it! He has discovered that he can achieve so much without being as cold and bitter as his father. He gets the girl after all!
He does change, in UA he comes across, to me at least, as a softer character. More rounded, more certain of himself.

And what disturbs me after The Truth ends.... Has CMOT Dibbler REALLY got a job selling advertising space? Working for someone else?! Dibbler?! Nooo...
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Postby Quatermass » Mon May 02, 2011 11:19 am

If there was a major complaint that I had to have about The Truth, it's the fact that Vimes and the Watch are portrayed in a very antagonistic light. I know it's probably a matter of perspective, but it felt more like a change of character, especially for Vimes.

That being said, I did especially enjoy Mr Pin and Mr Tulip. In fact, I read this book first, and then Neverwhere, which is where some people think Terry got some inspiration from, and while this may not be the case, I kept on seeing Kidby's picture of Pin and Tulip while reading Neverwhere.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon May 02, 2011 11:23 am

I think that Terry deliberately switched the perspective of the watch. We are used to seeing them from 'inside' - this was the first book that we see them from other people's points of view. I think it worked quite well in this respect. :)
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Postby swreader » Mon May 02, 2011 4:55 pm

I have thoroughly enjoyed The Truth each time I've read it--and seen different things and perspectives each time. This may be a "send-up of some British papers" but it works equally well with some of our "newspapers" such as The Enquirer whose stories are not that far removed from those of The Inquirer in the book.

I found it refreshing to see Ankh-Morpork as a whole, and not just the Watch. There is some broadening in our next book (Feet of Clay), and some other similarities - such as both have plots to dispose, somehow, of Vetinari. I rather think the plotters are the same, but we can discuss that next month.

One of the fascinating characters, at least for me, in this book is Otto, the reformed vampire now photographer. And talk about devotion to one's craft--crumbling into dust almost every time you take a picture. I have a feeling that Terry is doing something special with Otto's fascination with what he calls "dark light", but I'm not entirely sure what it is other than an extremely handy plot device.What do the rest of you think?

And I find it quite interesting that the view of Mr. Windling (certainly one of the common people) is almost exactly that of the Circle of Plotters who certainly are not "Common People."
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Postby deldaisy » Mon May 02, 2011 5:08 pm

I don't seem to be rereading the DW books in the same order (i know I know... but I get sidetracked) and been a while since I read this.

Just to say.... Mr Pin and Mr Tulip are two of my most loved characters. (and as we so often are heard to say.... I KNOW someone like Mr Tulip!) Not a criminal... but a very very rough diamond, huge bloke, massive unkempt beard, wouldn't want to turn the corner and see him on a dark night....but with an amazing knowledge of antiques and porcelain, and a lovely collection that he will show you if you ask nicely. :D
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Postby raisindot » Mon May 02, 2011 6:40 pm

"The Truth" is really a bona-fide masterpiece. Pterry really shakes up everything he has created to this point and adds new layers.

As I've said before, I've always felt that this book marks the beginning of a new series--the "Ankh Morph" series that includes both Moist books and arguably Unseen Academicals. Yes, other books have used AM before, but it's almost always just a backdrop for the action. Except for views here into shops, you don't get that much of a sense of the pulse of the city.

Here, it's all about the city and its lurching progress from a city ruled by aristocrats and fed by small one-shop businessmen to one where entrepreneurs like Wm. De Worde and the dwarf printers create businesses that have a direct influence on the lifeblood of the city itself--enough to draw the attention of Lord Vetinari himself.

I love Pin and Tulip. Choose whatever fat/thin comedy team you think they're based on (I'll say Abbot and Costello, maybe there's a British equivalent) and just add layers of depth and there they are. Mr. Teatime may be the most purely psychotic villain in the series (some could argue that Carcer fits that bill), but Pin and Tulip are a comedy/criminal team for the ages. With Tulip in particular PTerry took what could have been the standard stupid, stoner thug and made him into something totally unexpected by making him an art historian of the highest order.

Just about everything here is done right. It makes perfect sense that Vimes is initially hostile to the Times. As an authoritarian at heart, he doesn't want anyone to exercise power that he himself can't control; a position he grudgingly changes when he realizes the value the Times can bring to solving the mystery.

It also makes perfect sense that, in the end, William compromises his own principles by not revealing his father's stewardship of the conspiracy. He may be a traitor to his class, but not his blood, as tainted as it may be. The scene with Otto and DeWorde senior at the end is one of PTerry's best illustrations of the nature of evil.

One thing I always wonder, both here and in most of the other books that deal with attempts to overthrow Vetinari is how Mr. Slant is nearly always involved, and somehow always gets away with it. Surely Vetinari knows that Slant is an active participant; does he tolerate Slant because Vetinari realizes that these kinds of plots are as valid a part of a city's lifeblood as his own?
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Postby raisindot » Mon May 02, 2011 6:48 pm

swreader wrote:I found it refreshing to see Ankh-Morpork as a whole, and not just the Watch. There is some broadening in our next book (Feet of Clay), and some other similarities - such as both have plots to dispose, somehow, of Vetinari. I rather think the plotters are the same, but we can discuss that next month.


The Fifth Elephant and Thud are the only books with Vimes and Vetinari that don't somehow have the removal of the Patrician as either a primary sinister objective (GG, MA, FC, TT) or a consequence of opportunism born of circumstance (Jingo). The difference with TT is that William, rather than Vimes or the Watch, plays the more significant role in solving the mystery.
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Postby rockershovel » Mon May 02, 2011 11:17 pm

I enjoyed it very much. There's no reason why Vimes should like the idea of a free press, which serves no purpose in his world-view. From the perspective of a lot of people, the Watch is just another Guild and best avoided for that reason.

I'd say that Slant is really a sort of alter-ego for Vimes. Both believe in the law, in their own way; Slant believes in that dogmatic, obstructive and amoral variety rather than Vimes' principles. The Patrician uses them both in his way; it's useful to him that people use Slant in that it allows the Patrician in turn, to play a limited game of as predictable an outcome as is possible.
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Postby swreader » Tue May 03, 2011 1:33 am

rockershovel wrote:.
I'd say that Slant is really a sort of alter-ego for Vimes. Both believe in the law, in their own way; Slant believes in that dogmatic, obstructive and amoral variety rather than Vimes' principles. The Patrician uses them both in his way; it's useful to him that people use Slant in that it allows the Patrician in turn, to play a limited game of as predictable an outcome as is possible.


I can hardly think of anyone who is less an "alter-ego" for Sam Vimes. Mr. Slant is the epitome of what we call "a Philadelphia lawyer". That is, he knows a great deal about the law having spent, according to the Companion centuries in Courtrooms. He is undoubtedly the most able lawyer in Ankh-Morpork, if one who has no ethical standards. Terry doesn't make the point openly, but it's clear from this book, that he'll represent anyone who will pay his fees. Thus he acts for the conspirators as the negotiator with "The Firm" who have been hired to "remove" Vetinari from his position without killing him, for the Guild of Printers & Engravers (in trying to extort sums which they don't have from William & the Dwarfs, and thus shut down the competition with William Carney's Inquirer. And, when William sends for him to get Vimes to release him without William having to disclose names, he comes immediately. Vimes describes him to William as "Between you and me, and without your notebook," he muttered, Mr. Slant is a devious dead bastard who can bend such law as we have into a puzzle ring."

Sam Vimes, as he is proud to state, is "An Officer of the Law", not of the City, the Patrician, or any other interest group. He is a civilian, and his commitment is to uphold the laws of the city, to pursing evildoers and protecting the innocent. He bears no resemblance to Mr. Slant.
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Postby swreader » Tue May 03, 2011 2:02 am

raisindot wrote:"The Truth" is really a bona-fide masterpiece. Pterry really shakes up everything he has created to this point and adds new layers.

It also makes perfect sense that, in the end, William compromises his own principles by not revealing his father's stewardship of the conspiracy. He may be a traitor to his class, but not his blood, as tainted as it may be. The scene with Otto and DeWorde senior at the end is one of PTerry's best illustrations of the nature of evil. ...



I agree, Rasindot, that The Truth is a bona-fide masterpiece. The levels of comic satire in this novel are multiple and interwoven. Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip are simultaneously the epitome of" Murder, Inc." and, at the same time, perhaps the funniest villains ever created.

Otto, the reformed vampire, is a joy & a delight. Of all the careers for a vampire, being a photographer for a newspaper seems the worst possible choice--but it works. And the vampire turns out to be not the villain, but an agent for good--he recognizes William's weaknesses, but admires his attempts to overcome his upbringing.

And Otto's question to Lord de Worde, "Now, maybe I have to ask myself, how good am I? Or maybe I just have to ask myself . . . am I better than you?" , and his choice to kiss him rather than bite him is just perfect. Otto wouldn't give up his vows to refrain from biting for the likes of Lord de Worde.

But I don't understand what you mean by the underlined sentence. Otto clearly isn't evil at all, and I don't see that Lord de Worde is particularly evil. He is rich, powerful, and believes that he is above the law. But that makes him a Republican type (think Dick Cheney), and not, I think, evil--just stupid and out of date. At his worst he is amoral.
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Postby rockershovel » Tue May 03, 2011 7:07 am

swreader wrote:
rockershovel wrote:.
I'd say that Slant is really a sort of alter-ego for Vimes. Both believe in the law, in their own way; Slant believes in that dogmatic, obstructive and amoral variety rather than Vimes' principles. The Patrician uses them both in his way; it's useful to him that people use Slant in that it allows the Patrician in turn, to play a limited game of as predictable an outcome as is possible.


I can hardly think of anyone who is less an "alter-ego" for Sam Vimes. Mr. Slant is the epitome of what we call "a Philadelphia lawyer". That is, he knows a great deal about the law having spent, according to the Companion centuries in Courtrooms. He is undoubtedly the most able lawyer in Ankh-Morpork, if one who has no ethical standards. Terry doesn't make the point openly, but it's clear from this book, that he'll represent anyone who will pay his fees. Thus he acts for the conspirators as the negotiator with "The Firm" who have been hired to "remove" Vetinari from his position without killing him, for the Guild of Printers & Engravers (in trying to extort sums which they don't have from William & the Dwarfs, and thus shut down the competition with William Carney's Inquirer. And, when William sends for him to get Vimes to release him without William having to disclose names, he comes immediately. Vimes describes him to William as "Between you and me, and without your notebook," he muttered, Mr. Slant is a devious dead bastard who can bend such law as we have into a puzzle ring."

Sam Vimes, as he is proud to state, is "An Officer of the Law", not of the City, the Patrician, or any other interest group. He is a civilian, and his commitment is to uphold the laws of the city, to pursing evildoers and protecting the innocent. He bears no resemblance to Mr. Slant.


but this is precisely my point. Vimes, ultimately, believes in principles, and the law as the embodiment of those principles. Slant has no ethics of any description and believes only in the letter of the law.

However both are creatures of that law and depend upon it. No law, no Vimes, no Slant.
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Postby pandasthumb » Tue May 03, 2011 11:48 am

I think that 'you can't put all your trust in root vegetables' should be on a shirt. It is True afterall.

I also felt a bit unhappy about how Vimes was not portrayed as the Hero in this one, but I think that he was still Vimes and I am biased as he is my favourite. I agree that it gives you another view of the watch and the city
Vimes, ultimately, believes in principles, and the law as the embodiment of those principles. Slant has no ethics of any description and believes only in the letter of the law.

However both are creatures of that law and depend upon it. No law, no Vimes, no Slant.

'I'm sure we can all pull together, sir.'
lord Vetinari raised his eyebrows.
'Oh, I do hope not, I really do hope not. Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.' He smiled. 'It's the only way to make progress.'
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Postby raisindot » Tue May 03, 2011 2:06 pm

swreader wrote:But I don't understand what you mean by the underlined sentence. Otto clearly isn't evil at all, and I don't see that Lord de Worde is particularly evil. He is rich, powerful, and believes that he is above the law. But that makes him a Republican type (think Dick Cheney), and not, I think, evil--just stupid and out of date. At his worst he is amoral.


Should have made this clearer. What I really meant was this confrontation symbolized the dichotomy of good and evil, both in perception and in practice.

As a vampire, Otto was once "evil" (as defined by society's judgement of vampires as evil creatures; vampires and other undead might not define themselves in such terms) and he recognizes that this nature is still a part of him. His commitment to the Black Ribboners represents his desire to reform himself, to renounce evil, and to be a 'good person.'

DeWorde Senior rationalizes his treachery as benefitting society by saying that removing Vetinari will end the scourge of 'non-human' races that he truly believes are polluting the city. Like all aristocrats, he thinks he is a good person, when he is really evil (at least by William DeWorde's standards, although there are plenty of people in AM who would agree with DeWorde senior's actions and philosopht).

It's this complex nature of good and evil that makes their confrontation so memorable. DeWorde senior acts according to evil nature by stabbing Otto. Otto acts against his own evil heritage and demostrates his moral superiority by not killing him.
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