Monday, September 13, 2010

Guards! Guards!

This series just keeps getting better and better!  I'd heard a lot of great things about this one, so I was a bit worried the hype might make it disappointing.  Of course I needn't have been concerned.

This book introduces some new characters, including Carrot, a very tall dwarf who journeys to Ankh-Morpork to join the City Watch.  He is under the impression that the Watch is a respected,effective crime-fighting force dedicated to keeping the streets of the city safe and peaceful.  In reality, it is composed of a rather motley crew and led by the drunk, embittered Captain Vimes.  Carrot, however, is very enthusiastic and takes the laws of the city very literally - which is immensely entertaining.

Meanwhile, a mysterious secret brotherhood, after stealing a certain book from the library of the wizards' university library, begin performing rites that have dramatic and shocking results.  As the plot thickens, Captain Vimes, the quintessential film noir detective, finds himself determined to solve a baffling mystery, with the help of Carrot and his disheveled group of Watchmen. 

In the earlier books of the Discworld series, Pratchett had great fun lampooning fantasy fiction, and here he takes on the mystery, and he does it with style and humor - but never at the expense of his characters, who are very real, complex, and immensely sympathetic.  I adore the Unseen University librarian, of course - he was turned into an orangutan in one of the earlier books, and decided to stay that way because it suits him.  He is not pleased about the theft of one of his books - and it is never a good idea to cross an orangutan - or a librarian, come to think of it. There are many other wonderful characters - and even the antagonists are wonderful in their own immensely interesting way - and the book is a delight to read from beginning to end.

It can be overwhelming to contemplate reading a series with as many books in it as the Discworld series, but the great thing about it is that it contains mini series within the many books.  This is the first of the Watch books, and it is a great place to start reading, for those who are interested in giving the series a try.

There are always so many quotable passages in Terry Pratchett's novels, but I will try to restrain myself and leave you with only a few:

People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, "Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else."
People were stupid, sometimes. They thought the Library was a dangerous place because of all the magical books, which was true enough, but what made it really one of the most dangerous places there could ever be was the simple fact that it was a library.
The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.

And last but not least, the motto of the City Watch:  FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC.

Books in the Discworld series:
1. The Color of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort
5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards, Guards
9. Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting Times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. The Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. Nightwatch
29. Monstrous Regiment
30. Going Postal
31. Thud
32. Making Money

33. Unseen Academicals


Guards! Guards! (#8 in the Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett; narrated by Nigel Planer (Random House Audio Books, 2007)

Source: Audiobook purchased from Audible.com

Also reviewed at:
A Book a Week:  "Like anything I've read by Pratchett so far, the truth is revealed in such a careful, imaginative way that I was both awed and thrilled. There are moments of catharsis in this novel that any fiction I've read would be hard pressed to match, and yet I never felt overly manipulated."
Novel Reaction:  "Sam Vimes is my favorite Discworld character, winner of a close competition since Discworld also has Death (who speaks in all caps), luggage (a vicious protector of owner and property) and Moist von Lipwig (the greatest con-man who ever lived)."
The Wertzone:  "Guards! Guards! is Terry Pratchett's tribute to detective novels and all those hapless extras dressed in chainmail whose only job in films is to run into the grand hall and get cut down by the hero."

10 comments:

  1. You simply have to make me read something by this author one day. How long have I been saying I will? Forever? Gah!

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  2. Great review--this just went on my TBR list. I've only read one other book by Pratchett: "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents." I loved it immensely and reviewed it here:

    http://middleschoolbookreviews.wordpress.com/2010/04/28/the-amazing-maurice-and-his-educated-rodents/

    It's hilarious and there are some touching moments that even made me care about rats, which is a stretch for me!

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  3. Ladytink - Please start with The Wee Free Men - you will be hooked! I will read the second Black Dagger Brotherhood if you will read a Terry Pratchett book, deal?

    Middleschoolbookreviews - I find these books tough to review - it's hard to do them justice! I read Amazing Maurice years ago and enjoyed it immensely. We are a rat-loving family (except possibly my husband), since my kids have two pet rats, so I'll have to put it on our read-aloud list! One thing I love about Pratchett's books is their re-readability.

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  4. I really need to read this series, but it is so long and daunting! I have read a couple here and there, but still!

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  5. I must admit that oddly enough, I don't find the number of books in this series overwhelming so much as very exciting. I think it's because for a while, at least, there will always be another one to read and that prospect makes me really happy. It does definitely help that they are each self-contained stories, though -- I just don't see myself getting series exhaustion with this one.

    I've used those last two quotes multiple times, though I admit to being a bit biased. ;)

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  6. Kailana - Keep reading it - soon you will be comforted, as I am, by all the wonderful books still waiting for you. While they contain many of the same characters, each one is its own single story, so even if you don't get to them quickly, there won't be that problem that you have with some series when you can't remember enough to figure out what's going on. If that makes any sense!

    Kiirstin - I should have just let your comment speak for mine - we just said the same thing, didn't we? I am delighted to have so many unread books awaiting me - it's like have a bunch of brand-new chocolate bars sitting on the shelf. Such goodness awaits! :-)

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  7. I've finally given in and I'm reading Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series but as soon as I'm through I'll put a hold on it so you have yourself a deal. Rhage is probably my favorite Brother so you definitely have to read that one. The little things in the series that irk me become more and more easy to overlook as the books progress.

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  8. Okay! Let me know when you start, and then I'll start the next Black Dagger one. Then I supposed I'll have to start on the Dark Hunter ones, huh? Are you ever going to get back to Jaz Parks?

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  9. One of these days I'll get around to reading Jaz Parks again lol. I really love these Dark Hunter books though.

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  10. Ladytink - I'm sad to be at the waiting stage on Jaz, but luckily there are tons of series out there waiting for me!

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