‘As two armies march, Commander Vimes of Ankh-Morpork City Watch face unpleasant foes who are out to get him… and that’s just the people on his side. The enemy might be even worse. Jingo (…) makes the World Cup look like a friendly five-a-side.’
My first book review is about Jingo because I have very particular memories connected to this one.
I first read it when I was twelve, curled up on the sofa, and I didn’t get any of the (fairly scant) dirty jokes. When I read it again just a year later, I was delighted to see how much more of them I noticed were there, let alone understood. I don’t know whether that’s a good thing- almost certainly not, but there you go.
Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, in case you haven’t heard of it, is absolute genius. I haven’t read it in anything like chronological order, having started with Jingo as the twenty-first of them, but as they are all mad anyway it doesn’t really matter.
The book starts with an island called Leshp rising unexpectedly from the depths of the Circle Sea. The problems start when the two large, opposing nations on the shores of the Sea (Ankh-Morpork and Klatch) realise how strategically marvellous the island is, remember ancient feuds against each other and decide to go to war. The Discworld being the Discworld, hilarity ensues. However, Terry Pratchett being Terry Pratchett, it’s not pure comedy, but also a satirical and very, very clever view on issues such as human error, politics and racism.
I think the main reason why I like the book, and all of its series, is that it’s so hilariously clever. There is probably not one single sentence in the entire book without a joke in there somewhere. Yet after reading it, you sit back and think. I wish that everybody I have ever heard make comments about ‘foreign people’ of the ‘Why don’t they go back where they came from?’ kind would pick up this books and give it a good read.
The dialogue sparkles, the characters are as colourful and diverse as a tub of Liquorice Allsorts, and there are so many real-world political, historical and literary references littering those pages that I regularly find myself sitting up suddenly straight during lessons at school, thinking: ‘So THAT’S where he got it from!’ Some of my friends and even teachers have caught on to this and will nod sympathetically, saying ‘Pratchett again?’
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read this book, and that’s the highest praise I can give. The author has been battling Alzheimer’s for several years, but, incredibly, is still writing. He has won countless awards and been knighted for his literary achievements.
So kudos to you for your genius, Mr Pratchett, and I thank you for hours of joy.
If you want to buy Jingo, you can get it here.