It’s no secret that Terry Pratchett is probably one of my favourite authors. Ever since dad made me read Mort I’ve read pretty much every book he’s written in the Discworld, and a few others. I quickly found though, as I read on, that one of my favourite character veins was the Night Watch series of books, starting with Guards! Guards!
The story is at once brilliant and ludicrous, borrowing heavily from traditional mythology and fantasy writings, and then turns them on their heads, spins them around, flips them inside out and mirrors them onto the page. Nothing is the same when you step inside the world of Discworld, and you love Pratchett for it.
This time the Night Watch, joined for the first time by Carrot Ironfoundersson, gets caught up in a city wide dilemma when a dragon is turned loose. The Patrician is imprisoned, virgins selected for sacrifice, and everything of value goes into making a nice comfy bed for the dragon. But in a city where mostly everything of worth is simply goldish, the pile is not as elegant as Smaug’s was.
Twists and turns lead us through hilarity after hilarity, introducing us to some of the most cleverly written characters the Discworld will ever produce. Nothing is quite as fascinating as watching the clues dropped about Carrot, Vimes enter the world of sobriety, and the Night Watch gain in prominence thanks to the hard efforts of all.
This is where a lot of the Ankh-Morpork mythos is created, or at least hinted at, and you don’t want to miss it.
Pratchett is still early on in his writing, this being only the eighth book, first published in 1989. The polished brilliance of later hasn’t arrived yet, but there are hints of what is to come. You aren’t taken out of the story by bad writing or anything like that, but the high level that Pratchett reaches later on pushes his other great works back a notch.
These early books are still better than most fantasy you’ll ever read, but if you want the history and chronology of what comes later in your head, then this is what you want to read. Definitely worth a read at your earliest convenience.
Review by Joshua S Hill
2 positive reader review(s) for Guards! Guards!
The Colour Of Magic
The Discworld Series: Book 1
In the beginning there was…a turtle. Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smel [...]
Lords and Ladies
The Discworld Series: Book 14
The fairies are back – but this time they don’t just want your teeth… It's Midsummer Night - no time for dreaming. Because sometimes, when there' [...]
Feet of Clay
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For Commander Vimes, Head of Ankh-Morpork City Watch, life consists of troubling times, linked together by…well, more troubling times. Right now, it’s the latt [...]
The Light Fantastic
The Discworld Series: Book 2
A red star has appeared in the sky and the Discworld is heading right towards it. There is only one person who can save the world; but unfortunately this is the rather inep [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 20
Throughout history, there's always been a perfectly good reason to start a war. Never more so if it is over a 'strategic' piece of old rock in the middle of now [...]
The Fifth Elephant
The Discworld Series: Book 24
They say that diplomacy is a gentle art. That its finest practitioners are subtle, sophisticated individuals for whom nuance and subtext are meat and drink. And that master [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 28
For a policeman, there can be few things worse than a serial killer at loose in your city. Except, perhaps, a serial killer who targets coppers, and a city on the brink of [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 3
Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job. After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romant [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 3
The last thing the wizard Drum Billet did, before Death laid a bony hand on his shoulder, was to pass on his staff of power to the eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunatel [...]
The Wee Free Men
The Discworld Series: Book 30
Nine-year-old Tiffany Aching thinks her Granny Aching – a wise shepherd – might have been a witch, but now Granny Aching is dead and it’s up to Tiffany to [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 31
Polly becomes Private Oliver Perks, who is on a quest to find her older brother, who's recently MIA in one of the innumerable wars the tiny nation of Borogravia has a h [...]
A Hat Full of Sky
The Discworld Series: Book 32
Something is coming after Tiffany . . .Tiffany Aching is ready to begin her apprenticeship in magic. She expects spells and magic – not chores and ill-tempered [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 33
Moist von Lipwig is a con artist... ... and a fraud and a man faced with a life choice: be hanged, or put Ankh-Morpork's ailing postal service back on its feet. It' [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 35
Tiffany Aching is a trainee witch — now working for the seriously scary Miss Treason. But when Tiffany witnesses the Dark Dance — the crossover from summer to w [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 36
It’s an offer you can’t refuse. Who would not to wish to be the man in charge of Ankh-Morpork’s Royal Mint and the bank next door? It’s a job for li [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 37
Football has come to the ancient city of Ankh-Morpork. And now, the wizards of Unseen University must win a football match, without using magic, so they're in the mood [...]
I Shall Wear Midnight
The Discworld Series: Book 38
A man with no eyes. No eyes at all. Two tunnels in his head... It's not easy being a witch, and it's certainly not all whizzing about on broomsticks, but Tiffany Ac [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 39
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a policeman taking a holiday would barely have had time to open his suitcase before he finds his first corpse. And Commander Sam [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 4
There was an eighth son of an eighth son. He was, quite naturally, a wizard. And there it should have ended. However (for reasons we'd better not go into), he had seven [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 40
To the consternation of the patrician, Lord Vetinari, a new invention has arrived in Ankh-Morpork - a great clanging monster of a machine that harnesses the power of all of [...]
The Shepherds Crown
The Discworld Series: Book 41
Deep in the Chalk, something is stirring. The owls and the foxes can sense it, and Tiffany Aching feels it in her boots. An old enemy is gathering strength. This is a time [...]
The Discworld Series: Book 8
Here there be dragons . . . and the denizens of Ankh-Morpork wish one huge firebreather would return from whence it came. Long believed extinct, a superb specimen of draco [...]
A Blink of the Screen charts the course of Pratchett's long writing career: from his schooldays through to his first writing job on the Bucks Free Press,; to the origin [...]
1916: the Western Front. Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves in the trees. Where have the m [...]
A generation after the events of The Long Earth, mankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by Stepping. Where Joshua and Lobsang once pioneered, now fleets of airs [...]
2045-2059. After the cataclysmic upheavals of Step Day and the Yellowstone eruption humanity is spreading further into the Long Earth, and society, on a battered Datum Eart [...]
On the day the world ends... Mau is on his way home from the Boys' Island. Soon he will be a man. And then the wave comes - a huge wave, dragging black night behind it [...]
According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter - the world's only totally reliable guide to the future - the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, [...]
Greetings, adventurer! We lay before you this most comprehensive gazetteer encompassing all the streets of Ankh-Morpork, as well as information on its principal businesses, [...]
From Snuff: 'Vimes' prompt arrival got a nod of approval from Sybil, who gingerly handed him a new book to read to Young Sam. Vimes looked at the cover. The ti [...]
Come one come all to greatest city in the world. In London, all men are free, the streets are lined with gold and the naughty ladies are friendly to all. In London there ar [...]
In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet... That's the old story everyone knows and loves. But now the Carpet is home to many diff [...]
Andy from Polperro
7.7/10 at the time of my writing this? You've got to be kidding! I love Terry Pratchett's work and have been reading it since something like 1988. For me, personally, much of his later stuff loses the pure fun of novels like this one. There is also more of a directness to his story-telling than in the latter stuff which all-too-often gets weighed-down with cul-de-sac characters and situations who I simply give less of a damn about. This, on the other hand, is from his blindingly-funny period, when the footnotes were soooooo important, and so often he would beguile you into the next pratfall. And he manages to combine this with all the intrigue of a coherent thriller involving scary monsters in dark alleyways. Yes. Maybe not as "polished" as later work, but I think that has come at a price. For example, when have we seen moments like the final duel in latter works? I still feel the exhilaration as I accelerate over the cabbage fields....
I absolutely love this book. It has a introduction to many wonderfully fantastic characters, and well as insights into others. Also, there are some shocks, a fantastic story and of course the always fantastic Pratchett humour.
9.2/10 from 3 reviews
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