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Leshp - City of the Curious Squid

Updated on September 29, 2014

An Island of the Discworld

Leshp is the island that kicks off the hostilities in Terry Pratchett's book Jingo. Jingo is one of my favourite discworld novels, and the island of Leshp - like much of Pterry's writing - has a very interesting backstory. Bets are off as to whether Pterry invented it, or which source he drew it from, but there are at least three fascinating candidates (and knowing PTerry, it was probably all three, plus two more no-one's found yet!).

Leshp is also an appropriate topic for a Squidoo lens, because of its apparent inhabitants... a city of strange architecture, with curious and unsettling designs of creatures with eyes and tentacles. Squid, in fact. Even more factually, the Curious Squid. The island spends most of its time deep under water, rising sporadically due to volcanic acticity (the underside of the island is air-filled pumice stone and fills slowly with gas).

The island of Leshp rises from the ocean floor at the beginning of the story - practically under two fishing boats. One belongs to a fisherman from desert Klatch (uh, desert Klatch that is also on the coast) and one boat hails from the port of the stinking and capitalist metropolis of Ank-Morpork (loosely based on London). Naturally, both claim the island for their respective homelands and diplomacy, violence, honorary degrees, racism, war and the biggest arrest in history ensues.

"...Curious Squid, so called because, as well as being squid, they were curious. That is to say, their curiosity was the curious thing about them."

Jingo is the twenty-first novel by Terry Pratchett, one of his Discworld series, published in 1997.

Jingo - Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
Jingo - Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett

Have you read Jingo?

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For the serious empire-builder there was no such thing as a final frontier.

Jingo - Read the Book - A Novel of war, National Pride, Mobs and Governments. And Squid.

"The world is watching, Vimes thought. If something went wrong and this stupid Leshp business started a war, it's men like these who'd be working out exactly how to deal with the winner, whoever it was. Never mind who started it, never mind how it was fought, they'd want to know how to deal with things now. The represented what people called the "international community." And like all uses of the word "community," you were never quite sure what or who it was.

He shrugged. It wasn't his world, thank goodness."

Read more to meet 71-hour Ahmed, Nobby Nobbs, Vimes and the Klatchian Prince...

Leshp, and the multiple claimants and their willingness to go to war over one little island, is based on one or more of the islands of Fernandiea, R'lyeh and Fernando Poo . The last two are mostly fictional, the first very real. Read on to learn more about each...

Jingo: Stage Adaptation (Modern Plays)
Jingo: Stage Adaptation (Modern Plays)

Terry Pratchett is a phenomenon unto himself. Never read a Discworld book? The closest comparison might be Monty Python and the Holy Grail, with its uniquely British sense of the absurd, and side-splitting, smart humor. Jingo is the 20th of Pratchett's Discworld novels, and the fourth to feature the City Guard of Ankh-Morpork. As Jingo begins, an island suddenly rises between Ankh-Morpork and Al-Khali, capital of Klatch. Both cities claim it. Lord Vetinari, the Patrician, has failed to convince the Ruling Council that force is a bad idea, despite reminding them that they have no army, and "I believe one of those is generally considered vital to the successful prosecution of a war." Samuel Vimes, Commander of the City Watch, has to find out who shot the Klatchian envoy, Prince Khufurah, and set fire to their embassy, before war breaks out.


Would posturing and potential war break out if an island rose from the ocean today?

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If an island appeared today... what do you think would happen? - How many countries would lay claim to it?

"It was so much easier to blame it on Them. It was bleakly depressing to think that They were Us. If it was Them, then nothing was anyone's fault. If it was us, what did that make Me? After all, I'm one of Us. I must be. I've certainly never thought of myself as one of Them. No one ever thinks of themselves as one of Them. We're always one of Us. It's Them that do the bad things."

Give a man a fire and he's warm for a day, but set fire to him and he's warm for the rest of his life.

Solid Jackson

The Fishermen - Laying claim for their country

Manta Ray Swimming by Flynn the Cat
Manta Ray Swimming by Flynn the Cat

The two fishermen out fishing, on the night that Leshp rose, were Morporkian Solid Jackson and Klatchian Greasy Arif. Both were after the Curious Squid, both had brought their sons, and both then proceeded to embarrass them with good old National mutual prejudice.

Curious Squid - The opening of Jingo - in which Leshp rises

It was a moonless night, which was good for the purposes of Solid Jackson. He fished for Curious Squid, so called because, as well as being squid, they were curious. That is to say, their curiosity was the curious thing about them.

Shortly after they got curious about the lantern that Solid had hung over the stern of his boat, they started to become curious about the way in which various of their number suddenly van-ished skyward with a splash. Some of them even became curious--very briefly curious--about the sharp barbed thing that was coming very quickly toward them. The Curious Squid were extremely curious. Unfortunately, they weren't very good at making connections.

It was a very long way to this fishing ground, but for Solid the trip was usually well worth it. The Curious Squid were very small, harmless, difficult to find and reckoned by connoisseurs to have the foulest taste of any creature in the world. This made them very much in demand in a certain kind of restaurant where highly skilled chefs made, with great care, dishes containing no trace of the squid whatsoever.

Solid Jackson's problem was that tonight, a moonless night in the spawning season, when the squid were especially curious about everything, the chef seemed to have been at work on the sea itself. There was not a single interested eyeball to be seen. There weren't any other fish either, and usually there were a few attracted to the light. He'd caught sight of one. It had been making through the water extremely fast in a straight line.

You can read the rest of the chapter at HarperCollins: A Text Excerpt from Jingo by Terry Pratchett

The Circle Sea
The Circle Sea

The Circle Sea

The location of Leshp

Leshp is situated in the Circle Sea, which lies between Ankh-Morpork and Al-Khali in Klatch. It opens turnwise to the Rim Ocean. It is, as you can see, circular in shape, and bordered by various important locations (both to varous plots and in the economy and politics of the Discworld ) such as Klatch, Ephebe, Tsort, Djelibeybi (Pyramids), Omnia (Small Gods ) .

Image from the Map of the Discworld (see below)

The Discworld - Turtles all the way down

Map of the Discworld
Map of the Discworld

The Discworld is a flat world that rids on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the back of an enormous, comet-pocked turtle. Being round and flat, directions are ruled by the strength of magic, which is strongest at the Hub mountains and weaker on the Rim (local feature of note: the Rimfall). The polar regions are at the center (Hubwise).

Buy the Discworld Mapp. Never Get Lost Again*

The Discworld Mapp
The Discworld Mapp

"I said there would never be a map of the Discworld. This is it." ~Pratchett

Terry Pratchett and Steven Briggs have produced various maps of the Discworld, the city of Ankh-Morpork, Lancre and Death's Domain, among others. All of them are works of art, with fold-out maps illustrated by Stephen Player. Better, they come with little booklets full of interesting and highly amusing facts and anecdotes - The Discworld Mapp talks about the adventurers and explorers of the Disc.

*we lied about the getting lost.


And then it sank again...

"*Veni, vici*...Vetinari."

Discworld Stamps: Leshp - Custom made commemorative stamps fom the Discworld Emporium

Leshp Archive Proof Sheet
A5 archive proof issued to mark the retirement of the Leshp commemorative one dollar stamp.
Released: 11 June 2007

Discworld stamps were first created in 2004, and in 2008 were given official recognition when the Philatelic Department of the British Library, a division of the British Museum, decided to collate a collection of Discworld stamps for posterity.

The eBay search doesn't seem to work for the stamps, for some reason - but trust me, they are there. Just click through and search 'Leshp'!

Guestbook - Would you like to live on Leshp?



Vetinari pulled the ultimate Xanatos gambit. And he hardly had to do anything.


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    • profile image

      Edutopia 6 years ago

      Great lens, you've put quite a bit of effort into this page.

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 7 years ago from US/TN

      I had no idea there were Discworld stamps! That is so cool!

    • Peregrina LM profile image

      Peregrina LM 7 years ago

      This is great! That's interesting about the actual historical disappearing island--I had no idea.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      @julieannbrady: Lesshh-p! Pratchett describes it " sounds like its got its teeth out"

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      Good day my dear from one curious squid to another. How do you pronounce that ? Such a creative page, wow!

    • profile image

      Beas 8 years ago

      Great lens by the way ;)

    • mysticmama lm profile image

      Bambi Watson 8 years ago

      Nice book review