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Written for:
Senior Literature
March 10, 1999

By: Terry Pratchett

Jingo is a book written by Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett is a well-known author how lives in Wiltshire, England. Most of, if not all of, his books are on the funny side of writing. Jingo is book twenty-one in the Discworld series. The story is mainly about a potential war, brought on by the rising of a long lost island in the middle of an ocean. The ocean divides two rival countries, Ankh-Morpork and Al-Khali. This creates a problem because, in the Discworld, “Under International Law this situation clearly falls under the ancient doctrine of Acquiris Quodcumque Rapis (“You Get What You Grab”). And everyone wants to grab (cover flap).”

The main character in the book is Commander Samuel Vimes. General Rust, the “leader” of Ankh-Morpork armed forces, chooses him to be in charge. His is chosen to lead the City Watch, or the group of coppers as the rest of the city refers to them. The job of the Watch is to stop small crimes and arrest those who break the law. In short, they are the police of the city. There are many other leading roles in the story but Commander Vimes is apparently the main character. His problem in the story is that he has a hard time doing what other people expect of him. An example is, he has to force the general population to uphold the law. Most people in Ankh-Morpork have a weapon of some sort and all he has is a wooden knob with the city code engraved on it. But being a man of the law he does his duty to the best of his ability, with as little whining as possible.

One particularly dramatic scene in the novel is in the very beginning when the mysterious island of Leshp rose out of the ocean. A fisherman from Ankh-Morpork was out hunting for curious squid. There were no squid out that night, however, and he was about to return home. As he and his son started to row something started to come out of the water. At first the man’s son thought it was a chicken, a metal chicken. But the man realized it was a weathercock. Shortly after the boat rose out of the water and the man and his son jumped out. A second father and son pair from Al-Khali encountered them. The two fathers began to argue over whom this new island had belonged to. After a few minutes of heated debate and petty name calling, the two men grabbed their boats and their sons and started back towards there own countries. Terry Pratchett states in the book, “As every student of exploration knows, the prize goes not to the explorer who first sets foot upon the virgin soil but to the one who gets that foot home first. If it is still attached to his leg, this is a bonus (6).”

Another notable scene is when Prince Cadram’s older brother is shot in an assassination attempt. The prince, who in the entire book is unnamed for the proposes of keeping him safe from harm, was shot in the back with an arrow. Commander Vimes was in the middle of a parade when he heard a scream in the distance. He instinctively ran in the direction leaving the entire crowd bewildered. He made his way through the people only to find the unlucky prince shot in the shoulder. Upon further inspection, The Watch found the “would be” assassin lying on the ground not too far away. It was later determined he fell down a flight of “very long, very hard stairs.” He had died from the injuries he sustained.

Quite possibly the most dramatic scene in the book happens to be the most anti-climatic scene as well. The plot leads up to, what promises to be a very violent confrontation between the two countries. The two armies are at the same location with a bloodlust raging through the ranks. The two commanders of either army are in a tent trying to determine what course of action to take, which seems to be standard protocol in past wars, and advising the other side to give up now. Suddenly the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, Lord Vetinari, walks into the tent. He hands a signed scroll to the commander of the Klatchian army stating the ultimate and complete surrender of Ankh-Morpork. It says they will pack up and leave the disputed island of Leshp in the hands of Al-Khali. Commander rust, of the Morporkians, is outraged but powerless. The army of Ankh-Morpork leaves the deserts of Al-Khali and the war is over before it has begun.

This particular event was also the main turning point in the story. Everything in the book had been headed in the direction of war until this point at the end. The reason Vetinari was so calm about the unconditional surrender was because Leshp had sunk back into the ocean. So in theory, Al-Khali had lost and Ankh-Morpork had not lost. They did not necessarily win but the did not lose either. Once they returned home, Lord Vetinari and Commander Vimes were brought up on charges of treason. The charges were quickly dropped due to the fact that the island was gone.2 Later, Commander Vimes was promoted to Duke for his efforts. He did not see a reason for this but succumbed none the less.

I think the end of the book was well done, considering what happened. The author led up to this great battle and then totally turned the entire story around. It was a bit surprising, but well done. For something so outrageously unlikely, Terry Pratchett pulled it off nicely. The book was hard to follow and the end was different. But if you tried you could read the book, understand what happened, when it happened, and why it happened.

The setting of the book is rather difficult to explain. Discworld is nothing like our world today. There are wizards, magic, monsters, trolls, and many other oddities. The time period would seem that of the dark ages, with swords and crossbows for weapons. The clothing would also reflect this time period. As for taking place elsewhere, it would be impossible. The setting greatly effected the plot. Discworld is a place where a lot can happen and little is questioned.

The title, Jingo, has no relation ship to the actual story what so ever. The only time the word “jingo” was even used was about halfway through the book. A wizard was having as discussion with Commander Vimes and he said, “We can not let those Klatchian bastards have that island by jingo!” Other than that there dose not seem to be any relation. The only symbolism in the story seems to be, “if you can’t work some thing out, go to war over it.”

As stated earlier, Terry Pratchett is a humorous writer. This is just the latest installment in a series of stories that take place on a distant world that nobody can truly understand. One must strongly enjoy this type of literature to continue reading it. If you haven’t read anything by Terry Pratchett before you may not wish to start with this book. It is a very good novel but it is a bit difficult to follow if you don’t understand the kind of story you are reading. But if a person were to get the notion to read this novel, they might enjoy it.

Grade Received:
96% A

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