The Truth (novel)
25th novel – 4th individual story
|Awards||Came 193rd in The Big Read.|
The book features the coming of movable type to Ankh-Morpork, and the founding of the Discworld's first newspaper by William de Worde, as he invents investigative journalism with the help of his reporter Sacharissa Cripslock. The two investigate the charges of embezzlement and attempted murder against Havelock Vetinari, and help vindicate him.
William de Worde is the black sheep of an influential Ankh-Morpork family, scraping out a humble lifestyle as a common scribe and making extra pocket money by producing a gossipy newsletter for foreign notables.
When William falls in with a group of dwarves who have come to Ankh-Morpork to set up shop with their printing press, he inadvertently founds AM’s first newspaper. Realizing that with their press the dwarves can help him put out a newsletter every day, William begins scrambling to find enough interesting events to fill up the space. Arguing that it isn’t worth the effort just to make a few copies for William’s wealthy foreign subscribers, the dwarves print hundreds of copies of the “Ankh-Morpork Times” and hire a group of oddball beggars to pitch them on the street. William is shocked when the newsheets sell like hot cakes, bringing in more money than he wants or knows what to do with.
Before he knows it William has assembled a newsroom staff, including Sacharissa Cripslock, a prim young woman who attracts news items from talkative, flirtatious city guards, Otto, a vampire photographer from Uberwald who has sworn off drinking blood and often disintegrates in his own camera flash, and Rocky, a quasi-literate troll who deals with the more irate members of the public.
Meanwhile, a conspiracy is afoot in the city to depose the Patrician, Lord Vetinari. The wealthy and powerful (but anonymous) Committee to Unelect the Patrician hire Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, a pair of villainous mercenaries known as the New Firm, to frame Vetinari for attempted murder and embezzlement. The plan goes off without a hitch, Pin and Tulip overpower Vetinari by distracting him with a doppelganger but Pin and Tulip allow a witness to escape from the scene; Lord Vetinari’s prized terrier, Wuffles.
William and the Times staff investigate the strange charges against the Patrician and set out to find the missing Wuffles, all while trying to cope with threats from the local Guilds, the sudden appearance of a competing paper (the scandalous and largely fiction-filled “Ankh-Morpork Inquirer”), pressure from the City Watch, and the chance that Otto may fall off the wagon at any moment.
William makes the mistake of advertising a reward for information leading to Wuffles' recovery. Hundreds of Ankh-Morpork citizens mob the offices with dogs of every shape and variety (including many that are actually cats, birds, or cows) hoping to cash in. The New Firm arrive too, capturing every terrier in the crowd hoping that one of them will be Wuffles, and trying to intimidate the Times staff. Otto drives them off using his magical “Dark Light” photography method, which has the inadvertent effect of showing Mr. Pin the angry ghosts of his victims who follow him around and triggering a moral crisis for the normally remorseless thug.
An anonymous tipster named "Deep Bone" (actually Gaspode, the talking dog who operates as the brains of the beggar crew who sell the Times) helps William track down Wuffles, and when Sacharissa discovers the New Firm’s hideout in William’s own family manor he has enough evidence gathered to break the story wide open. Just as he is preparing to go to press, the New Firm return to take revenge. In the ensuing struggle a lamp explodes and the Times' offices catch fire.
William and the others take refuge outside while Pin and Tulip hide in the cellar. Hot melted lead from the destroyed printing press leaks down on them through the roof, and Pin resorts to murdering his partner so that he can save himself by standing on the much larger man’s corpse. Pin, now only partially sane, emerges from the cellars and attacks William once the fire is out, only to be killed when he is impaled on the memo spike from William’s desk.
With the press and office destroyed, it looks like the Times is out of business, but with the application of a crossbow, dwarven axes, and Otto’s sense of dramatic atmosphere, the crew manage to “borrow” one of the Inquirer’s presses for the evening. The big story breaks the next day and Lord Vetinari’s name is cleared just before a new, Guild-controlled Patrician would have seized power.
William goes to confront the man behind the Committee to Unelect: his own estranged father, Lord de Worde. After a tense argument, William blackmails his father with the information about his criminal doings, forcing him to flee the city or be exposed.
In the end William is ambivalent about the new and unexpected role of the free press in his life and in the world, but resolves that someone must tell the public the truth about what goes on in the city, even if the public doesn't want to hear it. The Times comes to be recognized, if not exactly welcomed, by the powers that be in the city, and William and Sacharissa make plans to expand even further, hiring new staff, establishing offices in other cities, and hopefully one day squeezing in time for a lunch date in between deadlines.
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|Reading order guide|
The Fifth Elephant
|25th Discworld Novel||Succeeded by
Thief of Time
|5th Individual Story
Published in 2000
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents