The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett
Fifth ElephantA new dwarf king is being coronated in Uberwald. Uberwald is a vast, mountainous area of Discworld with ore mines, major fat deposits (from the fifth elephant that was supposed to hold up Discworld), vampires, werewolves, and dwarves. Life has always been uneasy in Uberwald. Now it’s worse with the conservative faction against the modern faction wanting to bring dwarves to modern times. To increase the problems, someone has stolen the sacred dwarf throne, the Scone of Stone.
Sam Vines is the Commander of the Watch in Ankh-Morpork. But he is also a Duke who occasionally has to be (reluctantly) a diplomat. When a representative of Ankh-Morpork is invited to the coronation, Sam and his wife are sent to Uberwald. His job is to keep good relations with the vampire, werewolf, and dwarf nations and secure better trading rights for the rich fat deposits that are necessary for the daily needs of Ankh-Morpork. If he can locate the missing throne and the thief, even better.
Poor Sam Vines! He loves being a policeman and hates being a Duke. Fortunately the first helps him do his job as the second while in Uberwald.
Terry Pratchett has a good time making fun of instant communication, diplomacy, unions and strikes, and race relations. Discworld now has clacker towers so messages can be sent within hours instead of days or weeks. This is fine as long as the employees are able to stay in the towers. Ankh-Morpork has a new way to collect money. Wheels of carts are clamped if they stay parked too long. Enthusiasm also leads to clamping of delivery carts and monsters. While Sam is in Uberwald, the captain under him has to leave Ankh-Morpork. The new captain was never meant to be an officer – so when he takes over, the whole Watch is ready to quit. Protocol has to be followed with the dwarves, vampires, and werewolves. Of course it isn’t safe to trust any of them. Did you realize that while humans hate werewolves because they are part wolf, wolves hate werewolves because they are part human. Makes sense to me.
The Fifth Elephant is sly grins humor. The different characters in the book add to the enjoyment – from the accountant who is a member of the Assassin’s Guild to the vampire who will save lives but not help achieve the final goal to the werewolf who is in love with both a human and a wolf – talk about a love triangle!