The Quotable Pratchett: The Truth

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 The Truth

This is the 26th Discworld novel* and the 2nd in the Industrial Revolution series.

*[Note: there may be some confusion as to the number of this book: I am reading them in the order listed in the front of my paperback editions, which places Thief of Time before The Truth; however, various online lists – Goodreads included – place The Truth before Thief of Time. As The Truth is considered a one-off, I see no discrepancy in reading these two books “out of order” as it were.]

You know what they say . .. Wait, who is this “they,” anyway? In this case, it’s William de Worde, accidental newspaperman. The Guilds are restless, the Patrician is in trouble, and certain individuals are taking a keen interest in de Worde’s work. I guess it’s just as well that the truth shall make ye fret.

Once they start rolling, the presses won’t stop for man or dwarf or vampire. In order to survive, Ankh-Morpork must move with the times . . . and The Times.

Though the second in the Industrial series, The Truth is a one-off. There are appearances by Vimes and the Watch, Vetinari, and certain other Morporkian personages, but they are cameos. To the best of my recollection, the main characters of this story are always at the margins in others. It’s a nice afternoon’s diversion, indeed.

5 stars

The Goodreads Blurb:

The denizens of Ankh-Morpork fancy they’ve seen just about everything. But then comes the Ankh-Morpork Times, struggling scribe William de Worde’s upper-crust, newsletter turned Discworld’s first paper of record.

An ethical journalist, de Worde has a proclivity for investigating stories — a nasty habit that soon creates powerful enemies eager to stop his presses. And what better way than to start the Inquirer, a titillating (well, what else would it be?) tabloid that conveniently interchanges what’s real for what sells.

But de Worde’s got an inside line on the hot story concerning Ankh-Morpork’s leading patrician Lord Vetinari. The facts say Vetinari is guilty. But as William de Worde learns, facts don’t always tell the whole story. There’s that pesky little thing called the truth …

To the Quotes!

Discworld Librarian

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

The universe requires everything to be observed, lest it cease to exist.

Hughnon reflected that ‘entirely transparent’ meant either that you could see right through them or that you couldn’t see them at all.

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.

William wondered why he always disliked people who said ‘no offense meant.’ Maybe it was because they found it easier to to say ‘no offense meant’ than actually to refrain from giving offense.

Groups of clever and intelligent people are capable of really stupid ideas.

Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions.

Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove.

A lie can run round the world before the truth has got its boots on.

When people say “clearly” something that means there’s a huge crack in their argument and they know things aren’t clear at all.

Character assassination. What a wonderful idea. Ordinary assassination only works once, but this one works every day.


The mountains of madness have many little plateaus of sanity.

Things that are back to front are often easier to comprehend if they are upside down as well. In life as in politics.

. . .

Previous: Thief of Time | Next: The Last Hero

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