The Truth is Terry Pratchett's landmark 25th book in the Discworld series, and a very, very fine book it is. It's designed with plenty of appeal for longtime fans and new readers alike, plus the usual assortment of puns, historical allusions, digs at pop culture, and sarcasm that fans of Pratchett (not to mention Douglas Adams of Hitchhiker's Guide fame) have come to expect and love.

The book takes place in the well-established Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork, a parody of London with a few sprinklings of New York City thrown in. Ankh-Morpork is governed by the Patrician, a man who doesn't rule so much as check and balance the cities business and criminal interests against each other, and policed by the Night Watch, who have had several Discworld books to themselves but this time ride along as guest stars. The main character is William de Worde, a young man who comes from a family of aristocrats but lacks the wealth and influence of aristocracy himself.

William has eeked out a living up until now by providing a monthly newsletter to foreign dignitaries regarding the major events in Ankh-Morpork society and politics. Ankh-Morpork has a Guild of Engravers who painstakingly produce metal plates of his letters in order to mass-produce several copies, but William is soon given the means and the motive to increase production when a team of dwarves smuggle a printing press into the city. (The Guild of Engravers had convinced the Patrician to make printing presses illegal within the city before now.)

That's the means. The motive is an apparent murder by the Patrician on one of his own employees, and the Night Watch are unable to get to the bottom of it. It's up to William and his rapidly-evolving printing press to find out what's happening while the Watch, the Engravers, and assorted criminal elements try to (literally) dig his new newspaper out from under him.

William de Worde is a guy who's just trying to get to the truth, the real truth, while everyone around him is telling him the "real" truth just isn't important. Only the Patrician seems to be on his side, and with that man implicated in a murder, William's support is constantly unravelling around him. Even his own employees are caught between, alternately, their families, their heritage, or their need to make money and their desire to help William keep the paper alive.

Every Terry Pratchett fan has his or her own sliding scale as to what makes a book good or bad -- more jokes, less pop culture, more characterization, less mythology, more history, less sarcasm, more established characters, less unnecessary characters, and so on and so on. So far, The Truth seems to rate highly on just about every fan's meter due to a healthy blend of all of the above. The Ankh-Morpork Times encounters reformed vampires, tabloid competitors, Discworld photography (a little demon in a box paints whatever he sees, and magical eels provide the flash), family royalty, gangsters in black suits who keep saying "____ing", journalistic ethics, and of course the omnipresent Death (tall, black cloak, has a thing for farming implements). Those who understand the cultural and historical parody will laugh twice as hard, and the rest will enjoy rereading it years later and picking up on jokes they didn't understand the first time.

The Discworld series began years ago with The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, but a lot has happened to Ankh-Morpork since those days of mere sword-and-sorcery parody. The Truth is a good point to start if you're a new fan, and should be enough incentive to go back and get the rest.

"The Truth" is what members of a worldwide religion call their church and their way of life. These people meet in the home of church members rather than in a designated building, have traveling "workers" who minister to the people and resolve conflicts rather than stationary ministers and pastors, and share their own experiences and interpretations of the Bible rather than listen to someone else's sermon each Sunday. Members of "The Truth" live a simple life, and refrain from what they call 'wordly things' which include television, movies, modern music and dancing. I was raised in this church and have written up what I know and could find out about the founding and development of it in another node called No Name Church.

The Truth
Terry Pratchett's 'The Truth', the 25th book of the Discworld series of novels, was first published in 2000. The story and general information about the book has already been described in the above node. This node is an attempt to explain the book on a deeper level, that is, as a criticism of the media and a look into the nature of truth itself. The storyline proved the perfect vessel with which to do this, out of all the Discworld novels this is probably the one which stands out as having an important message while also being an enjoyable read. You can read through the novel once and you probably wouldn't notice how much of a scathing commentary it is on the media, and how critical it is of the nature of human beings.

"People like to be told what they already know. Remember that. They get uncomfortable when you tell them new things. New things … well, new things aren’t what they expect. They like to know that, say, a dog will bite a man. That is what dogs do. They don’t want to know that a man bites a dog, because the world is not supposed to happen like that. In short, what people think they want is news, but what they really crave is olds."

The novel is extremely critical of the manner in which people are blinded by their own beliefs and prejudices that they will believe anything that supports them regardless of any facts and evidence to the contrary. Many people have strong enough opinions on an array of topics that if anyone tries to point out to them that their opinions are based on falsehoods, they will reject it simply because it does not fit in with their current beliefs.

     "'A woman in Kicklebury Street says her husband has been kidnapped by elves,’ said Mr Mackleduff, holding up the Inquirer. The heading was very clear on the subject:

ELVES STOLE MY HUSBAND!

     ‘That’s made up!’ said William.
     ‘Can’t be,’ said Mackleduff. ‘There’s the lady’s name and address, right there. They wouldn’t put that in the paper if they were telling lies would they?’"

The story is based around two newspapers, each one with different aims. One of them is dedicated towards trying to report to the people the truth and matters of importance. The other is concerned with making money with stories and headlines which attract readers, regardless of the stories' basis in truth. The two newspapers compete for readership, yet the latter sells better because it tells the people what they want to hear rather than what they should want to know.

     "'Man Stolen by Demons', he said. ‘This refers to Mr Ronnie “Trust Me” Begholder, known to owe Chrysoprase the troll more than two thousand dollars, last seen buying a very fast horse?’
     ‘Well?’
     ‘Where do the demons fit in?’
     ‘Well he could’ve been stolen by demons,’ said Dibbler. ‘It could happen to anybody’
     ‘What you mean then is that there is no evidence that he wasn’t stolen by demons?’
     ‘That way people can make up their own minds,’ said Dibbler."

The book concerns how the media chooses to portray events and situations, manipulating the evidence or choosing to exclude parts of it to alter the understanding that the audience has of these events. It criticizes the media for the representations that they make of the truth, but it is far more critical to us, the media’s audience, for unquestioningly believing those representations. It is a message that we shouldn't take things at face value, that we should always question what we see and hear, regardless of whom it is who is doing the telling.

All excerpts from novel 'The Truth' by Terry Pratchett. Published by Doubleday in 2000.

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