Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Review: Guards! Guards!

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Guards! Guards!, first published 1989, introduced another new set of characters to my personal discworld universe: Captain Vimes and the rank of the city watch.
The book covers and unites multiple story-lines: the one of Carrot, a human raised by dwarfs, who is sent to the city to be with his own kind, and who applies at the city watch to do good. At the same time, a secret society aims at overthrowing Ankh-Morpork's ruler, the Patrician Lord Vetinari, in order to install a manipulable king. They do so by summoning a dragon, using a book stolen from the library of Unseen University and diverse stolen magical items. As anyone who read, for example, the wizard novels can deduce from that: the Librarian is not happy.
The main focus of Guards! Guards! is on Captain Vimes, though, who stops his alcohol abuse in order to be able to get rid of the dragon and protect his city. It's a somewhat clich├ęd police story, that, but nicely done and quite in discworld style. Together with the rest of the - mostly incompetent - city watch, the Librarian and Lady Sybil Ramkin, breeder of pet swamp dragons, it's Captain Vimes who tries to stop the dragon after the secret society lost control over it and it became king of Ankh-Morpork (amazing what concepts people can wrap their minds around).

Quite a bit of the story is based on the way people believe in stories and sayings - how to recognise a king, one-in-a-million chances, the behaviour of dragons... That makes up most of the novels charm: a mirror to the stupidity of people. Plus, there's dragons and I learned about L-space.
Satire, humour, dragons and L-space - definitely a book worth reading.

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