The twenty-first novel in the Discworld Series
UK hbk: Victor Gollancz, 120,000 copies on 6 November 1997 (0-575-06540-0)
Book proof: 170 copies
Discworld Collector’s Library: The City Watch Collection (hbk, cover engraving by Joe McLaren): Gollancz, 5 June 2014 (978-1-473-20025-8)
Pbk: Corgi, 308,000 copies on 5 November 1998 (0-552-14598-X)
B-format, with black/gold photographic design cover, Corgi, February 2006 (0-552-15416-4)
B-format, with modified Kirby design, Corgi, 6 June 2013 (978-0-552-16759-8)
Book club: BCA, 1998 (CN 5106)
USA hbk: Harper Prism (jacket illus. Michael Sabanosh), May 1998 (0-06-105047-4)
Book proof: number unknown
Pbk: HarperPrism (cover design as for hbk), March 1999 (0-06-105906-4)
12th printing repackaged under HarperTorch imprint with same ISBN 25 May 2004
Premium pbk: Harper, 29 April 2014 (978-0-06-228020-6)
Library hbk of pbk: Turtleback, December 2007 or earlier (0-613-57231-6)
US book club: Science Fiction Book Club Selection, August 1998 (cover as for hbk) 16 July 1998 (ref. 18488)
Bulgarian: Товинист, trs. Edena Paskadeva, Vuzev/Akhont-V, 2000 (954-422-060-7)
Chinese/complex (Taiwan): Solo, September 2013 (978-986-89002-6-4)
Czech: Hrrr na N9!, trs. Jan Kantörek, Talpress 10,000 copies in April 1999 (80-7197-068-9)
Double volume: Jingo and The Last Continent ????
Dutch: Houzee!, trs.Venugopalan Ittekot (pseud. of Ruurd Groot) Het Spectrum, April 2001 (90-274-7297-1)
Reissue: Mynx, 2009 (978-90-8968-111-9)
Estonian: Patrioot, trs. Allan Eichenbaum, jacket illus. Hillar Mets, Varrak, October 2005 (9985-3-1095-0)
Finnish: Pojat urhokkaat, trs. Mika Kivimäki, Karisto, October 2007 (978-951-23-4902-9)
French: Va-t-en-guerre, trs. Patrick Couton, L’Atalante, February 2003 (2-84172-231-7)
Reissue, with new introduction by Terry Pratchett (dated September 2014), 23 March 2017 (978-2-84172-803-9)
Pbk: Pocket, February 2007 (978-2-266-16936-3)
Pbk with Marc Simonetti cover: Pocket, November 2010 (978-2-266-21201-4)
German trade pbk: Fliegende Fetzen, trs. Andreas Brandhorst, Goldmann, April 1999 (3-442-41625-6)
Mass-market pbk: Goldmann, March 2004 (3-442-45639-8)
Hungarian: Hazafiak, trs. Csaba Járdán, Delta Vision, 5 July 2011 (978-615-5161-01-8)
Polish: Bogowie, Honor, Ankh-Morpork, trs. Piotr W.Cholewa, Prószyński i S-ka, 2005 (83-7469-032-1)
Russian: Патриот, trs. S. Uvbarkh & A. Zhikarentsev, Eksmo, c. 8,000 copies 2005 (5-699-12041-6)
Reissued, 2007, (978-5-699-19912-9)
Serbian: Dušmani, trs. Aleksandar Milajić, Laguna, 2009 (978-86-521-0284-6)
Spanish: ¡Voto a brios!, trs. Javier Calvo, Plaza Janés, July 2007 (978-84-01-33634-4)
Massmarket pbk: Debols!llo, January 2009 (978-84-8346-840-1 (vol.342/22),
First printing with new cover design: 3/14 (ISBN as before)
Kiosk edition: Altaya, 2009 (978-84-487-2627-0)
Swedish: Jingo, trs. Mats Blomqvist, Wahlströms, 2006 (91-32-33268-8)
Entering the world of Ankh-Morpork has become a comforting ritual for a great many people – the only passport required is a pronounced sense of irony and a willingness to see our own world cannily refracted in Pratchett’s off-kilter universe. Most of his readers long ago lost any fears that he would be unable to sustain his level of comic invention (a syndrome that’s torpedoed more than one of his contemporaries) and this latest Discworld novel more than delivers the customary goods, although it is unlikely to convert the uninitiated – a situation that seems to cause Pratchett no loss of sleep. A squid fisher’s night-time plying of his craft is rudely interrupted by the appearance of a weathercock arising from the water, followed by an island. Can the fisherman, Solid Jackson, lay claim to discovering this soggy land mass first – or have the rival claims of Klatchian fishermen Akhan and Arif to be considered? Conflict is inevitable and troop mobilisation follows, leading to various pointed shafts targeting venality, cynical patriotism and the nature of people to turn on their leaders when they fail to be lucky. Publishing News, 8 August 1997.
One of the strengths of these tales is that even the most avid reader never knows what to expect. Pratchett’s invention remains undiminished, his wit as sharp as ever, as he sets war and nationalism firmly in his sights. The only way to read is to take a deep breath and dive in. Peter Donaldson, Red Lion Books, Colchester, in The Bookseller 19.9.97
Starting the new Terry Pratchett novel – the 21st in his Discworld series and my first – I felt like a guest who has accepted a long-standing invitation to an annual party only to arrive long after things have got underway.
As a result, I found myself hovering just inside the door, not knowing a soul, unable to understand a word anyone was saying, feeling thoroughly disorientated and rather wishing I hadn’t come.
The knowledge that Pratchett habitually shifts a million copies a year, has topped the hardback and paperback charts simultaneously three times and is probably Britain’s best-loved author added to my unease. My built-in resistance to fantasy didn’t help much, either. I needn’t have worried. I was quickly scooped up, introduced to a handful of extraordinary people… told some good jokes and, before I knew what, I was shrieking with laughter like everyone else….
Pratchett is often compared with Wodehouse, and with good reason. He has the same genius for creating a world that is like no other, filling it with gloriously memorable characters and bringing the whole thing alive with rich and allusive language and excellent jokes….
Pratchett’s writing is a constant delight. No one mixes the fantastical and the mundane to better comic effect or offers sharper insights into the absurdities of human endeavour. In Jingo, he has thrown a cracker of a party and one that I certainly shan’t be missing again. Christopher Matthew in the Daily Mail, 28/11/97
Terry Pratchett’s Hilarious Jingo (Rhymes with Bingo!)
It makes no sense to me. Terry Pratchett is the most popular writer in Britain. His past 10 or 12 novels have been no.1 bestsellers. There must be a couple of dozen home pages and fan groups for ‘Pterry’ – his online nickname – and authors as rigorously highbrow as A.S.Byatt have acclaimed him a genius. Growing opinion has it that he is the funniest writer in English since P.G. Wodehouse. Some admirers whisper – rather abashed at their own daring – that he’s even funnier.
This last, of course, is quite impossible. Nobody will ever be as supremely humorous as Wodehouse. All nature rebels at the very thought. And yet, while reading Pratchett’s Mort (in which Death takes an apprentice) or the opening pages of Pyramids (wherein an Assassin’s Guild final exam parodies Britain’s driving test) or this latest charmer, Jingo, one grins and laughs and gets goose bumps of sheer pleasure as much as one does from, say, The Code of the Woosters. Who else, after all, could have created the most formidable warrior of all time, the octogenarian Cohen the Barbarian, or the zombie Reg Shoe, founder of the Fresh Start Club (and ‘a very big man in the undead community’) not to mention the Egypt-like nation of Djelibeybi (say it aloud), the abode of the gods, Dunmanifestin (cf.Done Roamin’), a murderous suitcase call the Luggage, and the Young Men’s Reformed-Cultists-of-the-Ichor-God-Bel-Shamharoth Association?
So it puzzles me: Why isn’t Terry Pratchett a big name in the United States? Why don’t you see his Discworld novels in shop windows or on the reading lists of book clubs?
Poor marketing, I suspect, and maybe an American prejudice against comic novels. But there are other reasons. First of all, Pratchett is generally slotted (and implicitly dismissed) as a fantasy writer, since his books take place on a flat planet called the Discworld, one vaguely medieval in character, with touches of Dickensian London to its capital, Ankh-Morpork. Recurring characteristics in the series include a laconic, world-weary Death who always speaks in CAPITALS, an inept sorcerer named Rincewind; a grouchy witch called Granny Weatherwax; and the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, comprising various Mutt-and-Jeff coppers, as well as a dwarf, troll, zombie and werewolf, and the unwilling heir to the city-state’s throne. Over time one comes to care a great deal, even to love many of these oddballs and innocents.
Strike two: Because his books are popular with 14-year-olds, Pratchett may be regarded as little more than a young-adult novelist. Of course, he can be silly and juvenile – e.g. the Duke of Eorle – but like The Simpsons his boisterous novels overflow with parodies and allusions that only a few teens are likely to pick up on. Jingo, for instance, tacitly refers to Atlantis, the Kennedy assassination, Lawrence of Arabia, Leonardo’s plans for a submarine, the war over the Falkland Islands, Western prejudices about the Middle East, H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, Sherlock Holmes’s deductive techniques, atomic fusion, palm-size electronic planners and the notorious sex manual The Perfumed Garden.
Finally the Discworld books make up a loose series, one that started with The Colour of Magic (1983) and now contains more than 20 novels (the most recent, just published in Britain, is The Last Continent) Many people find it impossible to read a book out of sequence – who, after all, would pick up the forthcoming Patrick O’Brian swashbuckler The 100 Days without knowing the previous exploits of its heroes, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin? Unfortunately, several of the earlier books about the Discworld are hard to find (I’m still looking for Moving Pictures and Hogfather). That said, Pratchett’s comic fantasies are sufficiently self-contained to be enjoyed separately, though one may fail to appreciate certain piquant details (e.g., why the Librarian of the Unseen University is an orang-utan who says only ‘Ook’).
Jingo is an ideal book to start with. Like the other novels in the City Watch group (Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay). It is a well-crafted mystery, but one with touches of the spy thriller and the Middle Eastern adventure story. Ankh-Morpork and its rival, the Arab-like Klatch, begin to squabble over a small island called Leshp, during a diplomatic visit the Klatchian ambassador is gravely wounded by an arrow from a Burleigh and Stronginthearm Shureshotte Five; before he can be captured the would-be assassin is mysteriously killed. As war fever grows pandemic, Sam Vimes, commander of the Watch, tries to keep the peace and solve the attempted murder. Was there, in fact, a second bowman? And what has become of the suspicious bodyguard known as 71-hour Ahmed? Before the novel’s end, even Lord Vetinari, the debonair, ruthless and unnervingly polite ruler of Ankh-Morpork, must undertake a desperate intelligence operation, in the company of the greatest genius of all time, Leonard of Quirm.
Jingo is obviously an anti-war novel, a critique of the way people and nations get caught up in xenophobia, misplaced ethnic pride and collective hysteria. But it never forgets to be very, very funny. Turn to any page:
‘Vimes’s desk was becoming famous. Once there were piles, but they had slipped as piles do, forming this dense compacted layer that was now turning into something like peat. It was said there were plates and unfinished meals somewhere down there. No one wanted to check. Some people said they’d heard movement.’
Still, as with all the best humor, one needs the build-up, the context, for maximum impact. The conversations between Watchmen Colon and Nobby, for instance, provide a virtual lexicon of imperialistic clichés:
‘“We all have to do our bit, Nobby. If it was down to me I’d be out there like a shot to give Johnny Klatchian a taste of cold steel.”
“‘Their razor-sharp swords wouldn’t worry you, then?”
‘“I should laugh at them with scorn, Nobby.”’
August is traditionally the month for vacation reading. For light-hearted escape, with a thoughtful center, you can’t do better than Jingo – or almost any other Discworld novel. Save Right Ho, Jeeves for next year.
Michael Dirda in The Washington Post, 27/7/98.
Background illustration © and by courtesy of Marc Simonetti