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!
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