Book:The Truth

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The Truth
Cover art by Josh Kirby
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date Nov 2000
ISBN 0552147680
Pages 319
Main characters William de Worde, Sacharissa Cripslock, Otto Chriek, Mr. Tulip, Mr. Pin
Series Ankh-Morpork Books
Annotations View
Notes Book #25
All data relates to the first UK edition.


William de Worde is the accidental editor of the Discworld's first newspaper. Now he must cope with the traditional perils of a journalist's life -- people who want him dead, a recovering vampire with a suicidal fascination for flash photography, some more people who want him dead in a different way and, worst of all, the man who keeps begging him to publish pictures of his humorously shaped potatoes.

William just wants to get at THE TRUTH. Unfortunately, everyone else wants to get at William. And it's only the third edition...


At the start of the story, William de Worde has been estranged from his wealthy father and makes a living writing an Ankh-Morpork newsletter which is sent out to other cities. The story begins when a group of dwarfs led by Gunilla Goodmountain arrive in the city with a new invention: a printing press with movable type. With the press set up in a hut behind The Bucket in Gleam Street, De Worde and the dwarfs begin to create Ankh-Morpork's first newspaper, the Ankh-Morpork Times, with some encouragement by Lord Vetinari.

Meanwhile, the New Firm (Mr. Pin and Mr. Tulip, a duo of criminals) arrive in the city. They have kidnapped a Vetinari lookalike named Charlie, and are charged by the 'Committee to Unelect the Patrician' to frame Vetinari for a murder. They plan to use Charlie to frame the Patrician for attempting to run away with stolen gold, but this nearly fails due to the Patrician's Assassin skills. They improvise by stabbing Drumknott and pushing Charlie into the hallway to 'confess'.

Aided by his new reporter Sacharissa Cripslock and vampire iconographer Otto Chriek, De Worde investigates the embezzlement against the Patrician, annoying the City Watch in the process. As it turns out, the criminals made the mistake of letting Vetinari's dog escape, and their assisting lawyer Mr. Slant warns them that the Watch will be able to extract information from it, so the New Firm are forced to search for the dog. Meanwhile, on his way back to the press, De Worde discovers that the Guild of Engravers, now the Guild of Engravers and Prínters have set up a cheap tabloid paper called the Ankh-Morpork Inquirer, full of totally unbelievable (even by Discworld standards) stories that a large part of the population seem to take seriously.

In the third edition of the Times, De Worde offers $25 for finding Wuffles. This causes a huge crowd of people to arrive offering a variety of animals, while the New Firm arrive in disguise. They are just about to attack De Worde when Otto takes a picture using "Dark Light", which as a side effect causes fear and panic among the crowd and a stampede of animals. Mr Pin demands that Slant increase their fee; he and Tulip head back to their base at the De Worde house, where they find Sacharissa Crisplock and take her back with them to the Press.

While they wait for De Worde to arrive, a fight breaks out and the machinery catches fire. Mr Pin and Mr Tulip take refuge in the basement, but boiling lead starts to pour through the ceiling. Pin shoots Tulip with a crossbow, and when he escapes, he attacks De Worde in a fit of rage and gets stabbed with a paper spike. De Worde discovers a Dis-organiser, and by listening through the imp's memory discovers that his father is behind the conspiracy.

De Worde confronts his father at his mansion, only to almost be captured and transported away. He is saved by Otto Chriek, who threatens Lord De Worde with vampiric revenge but ultimately lets him go. Using the New Firm's payment, De Worde buys a new press and unites with the Guild. Vetinari is reinstated as Patrician and informs De Worde that Charlie has decided to take up acting. The book ends after William and Sacharissa report on Captain Carrot saving an old lady from a runaway beer cart. Meanwhile, Mr Tulip repents before Death and is reincarnated as a woodworm, while Mr Pin is reincarnated as one of the humorously shaped potatoes mentioned in the blurb.


One of the themes explored in this book is the role of media in society. The toughest criticism of this is offered by Vetinari at the end of the book: "How come there is always the same amount of news?"

The two newspapers competing show mainstream journalism, with its heroic abilities, that are sometimes beyond those of the police, and yellow journalism (also known as "red-top" in Great Britain), with its potential to do damage.

  • "Red-top papers: such as The Sun, the News of the World, the Sport, the Daily Star, et c, whose mast-heads are a splash of red behind the paper's name. The Daily Mirror used to be a black-top until it was bought by Robert Maxwell, who turned the masthead red and drove the paper down-market and de-intellectualised it. What had formerly been a respectable middle-market newspaper of centre-left opinion has never recovered and is still a pale ghost of what it once was.

The Watergate Scandal is also referenced at several points:

  • The New Firm enter the city through the Water Gate
  • The Committee to Un-elect the Patrician is a clear parody of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, although Vetinari is not elected
  • Gaspode's alias, "Deep Bone" comes from Deep Throat, the anonymous informer who leaked information to the Press.
  • Gaspode meets De Worde by the multi-storey stable block, the Discworld equivalent of a multi-storey car park where Deep Throat met reporters in secret
  • The Disorganiser which reveals Lord De Worde. Nixon originally denied the allegations he faced but was exposed after taped conversations were discovered, revealing him to be in charge. And of course the myriad "expletive deleted" euphemism of the Nixon transcripts finds its Discworld home in the frequent recourse to "-ing"....

Pravda (Russian for "Truth") is a Russian broadsheet newspaper, formerly the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


Main characters

Minor characters

Cameos and mentions


Sentient species

Supernatural entities


Concepts, devices, ideas, et cetera



Adapted by Stephen Briggs into a stage play in 2002.


First Edition Cover by Josh Kirby
Book Proof
Paperback 2004
Audio Cassette
Audio CD
Cover by Chip Kidd
US Cover
Paperback 2012
Collectors Library Edition
Paperback 2023

External links

The Truth Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File

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