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The truth will out, or at least it's going to try to, any minute. New printing technology means that words just won't obediently stay nailed down like usual. They can now be taken apart and used to make other words. Which is downright dangerous. There's a very real threat of news getting out there. Of people finding out what's really going on. And the powers that be aren't happy - they want that to be far from the truth.
If they are to call a halt to this madness of free speech, they may have to succumb to their despotic tendencies. But will they, in this brave new world, still be able to have the last word?
The rumour spread through the city like wildfire (which had quite often spread through Ankh- Morpork since its citizens had learned the words ‘fire insurance’). The dwarfs can turn lead into gold . .. It buzzed through the fetid air of the Alchemists’ quarter, where they had been trying to do the same thing for centuries without success but were certain that they’d manage it by tomorrow, or next Tuesday at least, or the end of the month for definite.
It caused speculation among the wizards at Unseen University, where they knew you could turn one element into another element, provided you didn’t mind it turning back again next day, and where was the good in that? Besides, most elements were happy where they were. It seared into the scarred, puffy and sometimes totally missing ears of the Thieves’ Guild, where people put an edge on their crowbars. Who cared where the gold came from?
The dwarfs can turn lead into gold . .. It reached the cold but incredibly acute ears of the Patrician, and it did that fairly quickly, because you did not stay ruler of Ankh-Morpork for long if you were second with the news. He sighed and made a note of it, and added it to a lot of other notes. The dwarfs can turn lead into gold . .. It reached the pointy ears of the dwarfs. ‘Can we? ’ ‘Damned if I know. I can’t. ’ ‘Yeah, but if you could, you wouldn’t say. I wouldn’t say, if I could. ’ ‘Can you? ’ ‘No! ’ ‘Ah-ha! ’
It came to the ears of the Night Watch of the city guard, as they did gate duty at ten o’clock on an icy night. Gate duty in Ankh-Morpork was not taxing. It consisted mainly of waving through anything that wanted to go through, although traffic was minimal in the dark and freezing fog. They hunched in the shelter of the gate arch, sharing one damp cigarette. ‘You can’t turn something into something else, ’ said Corporal Nobbs. ‘The Alchemists have been trying it for years. ’ ‘They can gen’rally turn a house into a hole in the ground, ’ said Sergeant Colon. ‘That’s what I’m talking about, ’ said Corporal Nobbs. ‘Can’t be done. It’s all to do with . .. elements. An alchemist told me. Everything’s made up of elements, right? Earth, Water, Air, Fire and . .. sunnink. Well-known fact. Everything’s got ’em all mixed up just right. ’ He stamped his feet in an effort to get some warmth into them.
‘If it was possible to turn lead into gold, everyone’d be doing it, ’ he said. ‘Wizards could do it, ’ said Sergeant Colon. ‘Oh, well, magic, ’ said Nobby dismissively. A large cart rumbled out of the yellow clouds and entered the arch, splashing Colon as it wobbled through one of the puddles that were such a feature of Ankh-Morpork’s highways. ‘Bloody dwarfs, ’ he said, as it continued on into the city. But he didn’t say it too loudly. ‘There were a lot of them pushing that cart, ’ said Corporal Nobbs reflectively. It lurched slowly round a corner and was lost to view. ‘Prob’ly all that gold, ’ said Colon. ‘Hah. Yeah. That’d be it, then. ’
He would be amusing in any form, and his spectacular inventiveness makes the Discworld series one of the perennial joys of modern fiction
- Mail on Sunday
Fluent, intricately plotted and sometimes very funny
- Daily Telegraph
Pratchett has found his own way of turning lead into gold, and by that I don't just mean that he's written 25 bestsellers in 17 years, but that every one he has written is a treasure
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