The Quotable Pratchett: Jingo

No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away

With the passing of Sir Terry Pratchett and the publication of The Shepherd’s Crown, I embarked on an epic re-reading of all 41 official Discworld novels, with the goal of finishing by 31 December, 2016.

Famous for its wit and wisdom, the series offers countless quotable quotes on a variety of subjects. The quotes I share should not be considered the whole of Sir Terry’s excellent prose; indeed, they are the tasty appetizers to a succulent, nourishing meal.

About Jingo

Jingo coverThis is the 21st Discworld novel and the 4th in the Watch series.

The mysterious island of Leshp rises from the sea equidistant from Ankh-Morpork and the Klatchian city of Al-Khali. A Klatchian prince narrowly escapes assassination; his attackers do not. Leonard of Quirm, recluse genius, walks the streets. It’s up to the City Watch to connect the dots and prevent a war.

Examining the themes of civic duty, the intersection of patriotism and nationalism, the “Us versus Them” mentality, and the idea of “little crimes” and “big crimes”, Jingo is Discworld at its finest. In fact, it should be required reading in all Civics classes (this coming from a Social Studies teacher).

5 stars

The Goodreads Blurb:

It isn’t much of an island that rises up one moonless night from the depths of the Circle Sea — just a few square miles of silt and some old ruins. Unfortunately, the historically disputed lump of land called Leshp is once again floating directly between Ankh-Morpork and the city of Al-Khali on the coast of Klatch — which is spark enough to ignite that glorious international pastime called “war.” Pressed into patriotic service, Commander Sam Vimes thinks he should be leading his loyal watchmen, female watch-dwarf, and lady werewolf into battle against local malefactors rather than against uncomfortably well-armed strangers in the Klatchian desert. But war is, after all, simply the greatest of all crimes — and it’s Sir Samuel’s sworn duty to seek out criminal masterminds wherever they may be hiding…and lock them away before they can do any real damage. Even the ones on his own side

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

The Librarian as he appears in The Discworld Companion, illustrated by Paul Kidby

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, that is a bonus.


If you took the view that you were not going to do things because they were apparently ridiculous, you might as well go home right now.


After all, when you seek advice from someone it’s certainly not because you want them to give it. You just want them to be there while you talk to yourself.


It was much better to imagine men in some smoky room somewhere made mad and cynical by privilege and power, plotting over brandy. You had to cling to this sort of image, because if you didn’t then you might have to face the fact that bad things happened because ordinary people, the kind who brushed the dog and told the children bed time stories, were capable of then going out and doing horrible things to other ordinary people. It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone’s fault. If it was Us, then what did that make Me? After all, I’m one of Us. I must be. I’ve certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We’re always one of Us. It’s Them that do the bad things.


It paid to look at any book the orangutan gave you. He matched you up to books. Vimes supposed it was a knack, in the same way that an undertaker was very good at judging heights.


History was full of the bones of good men who’d followed bad orders in the hope that they could soften the blow. Oh, yes, there were worse things they could do, but most of them began right where they started following bad orders.


Vimes awoke with a noseful of camel. There are far worse awakenings, but not as many as you might think.


Sooner or later, we’re all someone’s dog.


The poor man is a few palms short of an oasis.


The trick of getting donkeys down from minarets, said the Patrician as the desert unwound below them, is always to find that part of the donkey which seriously wishes to get down.


History changes all the time. It is constantly being re-examined and re-evaluated, otherwise how would we be able to keep historians occupied? We can’t possibly allow people with their sort of minds to walk around with time on their hands.

. . .

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5 thoughts on “The Quotable Pratchett: Jingo

  1. I never could get into the Terry Pratchett books, although I appreciate that they are regarded as amazing. My son keeps giving me DiscWorld books to read, but I don’t get it. Mind you, my son never could read a Harry Potter….

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