Jingo (by Terry Pratchett) = 4/5

Set on Pratchett’s Discworld, Jingo follows the inter-cultural tensions that arise when a fabled island, Leshp, rises out of the sea and is immediately claimed by rival fishermen and their sons in the names of Ankh-Morpork and Klatch. At home in their respective lands, Klatchians and Ankh-Morporkians both work themselves into nationalist frenzies. Nobility/politicians and common folk on both sides want war, but when the Klatchian prince is mysteriously killed on Ankh-Morkpork soil during negotiations, Ankh-Morpork’s ruler, Lord Vetinari sends Samuel Vimes (commander of the city Watch) to investigate.

The ensuing investigation turns into an adventure involving a submarine, a werewolf, a temporospatially-muddled time-keeping imp, a cross-dressing Watchman, melons, a donkey stuck in a minaret, and lots of passive-aggressive hospitality mixed with war-like charging. Stereotypes are regularly presented, challenged, and debunked with Pratchett’s typical wit and frank humor. Jingo also explores the role of law enforcement in maintaining social stability and resolving conflicts while remaining objective and without abuses of power.

Jingo is a great work of satirical fantasy, and though it’s twenty years old at this point, it remains relevant. I was only a couple of pages in when I realized the source of conflict and debate in Jingo is extremely applicable to current geopolitical posturing over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. I’d recommend this for anyone looking for more satirical fantasy who doesn’t mind a long read (the book is about 440 pages) and anyone looking for a lighthearted primer on jingoism.

TL;DR: Through satire, Jingo introduces the concept of jingoism, throws in some (debunked) cultural misunderstandings and stereotypes, and argues that it’s all ridiculous and behind every egg, “there’s always a chicken […] if you look hard enough.”

Review originally written 8 April 2017

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