BOOK RECOMMENDATION: GUARDS! GUARDS! By TERRY PRATCHETT
Book title: GUARDS! GUARDS!
Author: TERRY PRATCHETT
Guards! Guards! (pub. 1989) is the eighth in a series of fantasy books written by Terry Pratchett known as the Discworld Novels. Set in the City of Ankh-Morpork (think Medieval locale), where common sense knowledge of human nature suggests that it is far better to regulate crime than actually fight it. Thus the city’s not-so-finest, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch dwindled in number and strength throughout the years.
Until a large fire-breathing dragon came along, and the city suddenly needs heroes. In the absence of any willing hero (or at least a cheap one), they would have to make do with the defunct police.
If you’re looking for an entry novel into the wonderful world of Discworld, you can’t go wrong with Guards! Guards! A standalone novel on its own, it introduces many recurring characters in the series. It also establishes many of the social dynamics that is pervasive in the succeeding novels, (i.e. the role of the Guilds in Ankh-Morpork society, the function of the police and the policies of the ruling Patrician).
In Guards! Guards! we also meet one of Terry Pratchett’s most notable character, Sam Vimes, the Ankh-Morpork City Watch Captain at his lowest, that is gutter level low. Drunk with despair, “brung low” by the city he promised to preserve, Sam Vimes is the everyday man failed by the system and it’s not hard to empathize with that kind of man.
As far as the fans are concerned, Sam Vimes is the heart of the Discword series (this is highly debatable because there are many other characters in Discworld that are equally fascinating). With a deep sense of justice and even deeper cynicism, Sam Vimes is the kind of character who will jump out of the page to arrest you for jaywalking (well maybe not jaywalking, but for murder, he just might).
Well, what to expect from Guards! Guards!?
NOT THAT KIND OF DETECTIVE STORY
Essentially, Guards! Guards! and many of the so-called City Watch novels are detective stories only this time with a twist which is a hallmark Pratchett- eliminating the impossible and determining the improbable to find the truth gets a bit tricky when you live in a fantasy universe where infinite libraries that houses all the books that was written and will be written in all of time and space exist, where fire breathing dragons can be summoned and narrative causality disctates that a dragon slayer will be made king- the detective has his job cut out for himself.
Terry Pratchett has a knack for presenting the familiar and turning it on its head. In a City Watch novel, crime is common, common sense, not so. And so the policeman must at least be sensible to find the crime (sometimes even the crime is not so obvious). Often the crime is just pure mob stupidity, but that’s not illegal. So how do you handle that? Well for a start you can at least arrest the most persistent superstition and put it on trial which is what Guards! Guards! brilliantly did.
Guards! Guards! is also one of the first Discworld novels that actively pursued plot which was not a common feature of his previous novels. And once Terry Pratchett mastered the art of plotting, you get layers upon layers which is a fine and entertaining mess!
If you’re looking for a few hours of laugh-out-loud fun, action packed adventure that is witty and thoughtful or you’re just looking for a sensible mystery novel that would put Dan Brown to shame, Guards! Guards! is your safest bet. It’s as good as a bet as a million-to-one chance which incidentally just worked!
It might also be good to know that a tv crime procedural drama produced by Terry Pratchett’s company Narrativia is in the making due for production this year. At the helm is his daughter Rhianna Pratchett of whom we are assured would be championing the spirit of Discworld as his father intended.
I still don’t know how to do this in WordPress but for now #GNUTerryPratchett.
About the Discworld Review: Twenty books ago, Kokay became a fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. And so, to keep the ripples rippling, and the pages turning, she will review one Discworld book once in a while, punctuated by other books. Because Terry Pratchett also encourages one to read about history, philosophy and science. Pursue reading in all its form and genre! 😀