Often described as one of Terry Pratchett’s best works, Guards! Guards! is the first of the Discworld novels to centre on the men of the Night Watch. The Night Watch are a ragtag band of men charged with keeping law and order in Ankh-Morpork, although with an official Assassin’s Guild and Thieves Guild, this isn’t exactly a demanding job.
Captain Sam Vimes is the jaded alcoholic leader of the Night Watch which also includes the cynical Sergeant Colon, the reprehensible Corporal Nobbs and the earnest new recruit Constable Carrot. It falls to them to save the city from a new doom- the kind of doom that breathes fire, eats maidens and is generally going to lower house prices in most neighbourhoods (perhaps not The Shades)- and they rise to the challenge admirably adequately eventually.
This was my first successful attempt at reading a Terry Pratchett book. When I was younger I tried and tried to get into the Discworld books, especially after playing and enjoying the frankly amazing computer game set in Discworld (coincidentally it was loosely based on this book!), but was never able to get past the first few pages. And honestly, I missed out. Clearly I just wasn’t ready for the subtlety and surrealism that permeates the Discworld.
Guards! Guards! was recommended by fellow Book Eater Kelly and is a fantastic introduction into the Discworld universe despite being 8th in the series. This is partly due to the introduction of the Night Watch as characters, and particularly assisted by the naivety of Constable Carrot, the world’s largest ‘dwarf’… we could be clueless about Mrs Palm and her daughters together!
Delightfully dotty and marvellously madcap, Guards! Guards! weaves several strands of storytelling into an exciting and epic tale of the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night’s dragon-fuelled plan to overthrow the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork and replace him with a puppet king so everyone can all stop feeling oppressed.
“And the people next door oppress me all night long. I tell them, I work all day, a man’s got to have some time to learn to play the tuba. That’s oppression, that is. If I’m not under the heel of the oppressor, I don’t know who is.”
It is funny, fast-paced, and filled with an amazing amount of detail. I’m very much looking forward to further exploring the Discworld. Any recommendations for which one next?