Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett

Guards! Guards!I’ve vaguely known about Terry Pratchett and Discworld for years, but was never really interested in reading any of it. Then my brother’s girlfriend started showing up to family events with her nose buried in a Pratchett book, a new one for every event, and since I generally trust her opinions I figured I’d give the guy a try. So when I found myself in one of my favorite Cleveland bookstores with some time to kill, I picked the one that sounded most interesting and it came home with me.

And apparently I was lucky in my book choice! According to the bro’s girlfriend you don’t have to read the series in publication order, but you should read the individual storylines in order, and this book is the first in the “City Watch” storyline. Good work, self! If you are of another mind about how to read Discworld (I hear there are many of these minds), well, oops?

So, anyway, back to this particular book… Guards! Guards! is a weird little story that is part miniature epic fantasy novel and part commentary on epic fantasy novels. It reminds me a bit of Redshirts, except without a weird and headache-causing twist in the middle. I’m not super well versed in classic fantasy, but I knew enough about swords and magic and DRAGONS to get me through this one!

‘Cause see, there’s a Brotherhood of… Something… whose leader decides it’s totes time for change in city leadership, so he summons up a dragon to come kill a few people here and there so that the leader can bring in a ringer to be the long-lost rightful heir to the throne of said city, Ankh-Morpork, and then have lots of power or whatever. As you do. But there is also a bumbling sort of police force called the City Watch who are usually just for show, but with the addition of an officer who has actually read the book of laws they end up investigating the whole “appearance of a heretofore imaginary dragon” thing. There’s also a whole bunch of other stuff that happens, including the theft of a book from a library which leads to some fantastic quotes about libraries and bookstores and magic and whatnot, so that’s awesome.

And really, I think those quotable lines, of which there are many, are what this book is about. The plot is pretty simple and straightforward, but it is not shy about dashing off on a tangent for the sake of a joke or even a pun. I approve, and I approve also of Pratchett’s ability to use fantasy clichés to alternately advance the story (e.g. this is how things work in fantasy novels, so therefore this thing works) and to completely derail it (e.g. this is how things work in fantasy novels, too bad this is actually real life!) — sometimes using the same cliché to both ends!

I found this book “reasonably amusing” (to quote myself) and a perfect sort of brain-candy read, and I will definitely pick up another Pratchett book in the future, if I can ever figure out which one should come next!

Recommendation: For fans of British humor (i.e. Douglas Adams, Monty Python) and fantasy novels and satire and fun.

Rating: 7/10
(RIP)

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8 thoughts on “Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett

  1. Priya says:

    After my 13th Discworld read, I gave up reading them in order and just read whichever caught my attention! The City Watch books aren’t my favourite books, though. I like the ones that include the Unseen University wizards or the Lancre Witches, you should try those too. 🙂

    • Alison says:

      I want to try them all! This is why I avoid established series. 🙂 I think I may try going back to the beginning, but we’ll see how far I get with that!

  2. cherylmahoney says:

    Yay, I always love to hear about a new person picking up Discworld! You definitely picked a good place to start, as the City Guard is my favorite strand within the series. I see someone already gave you the names of the next couple, so I’ll just comment to say that I wouldn’t recommend going back to the very beginning (not any time soon, at least) as the first few aren’t as strong. But you have many wonderful City Guard ones ahead of you!

  3. jenkoudelka says:

    Very happy to know that I was the catalyst for you to read a Discworld novel. Now if I could only work my magic again and convince your brother to read any of the City Watch books…

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