Guards! Guards!
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ibsn13: 9780552134620
series: Watch - Book 1

The first novel in Terry Pratchett’s City/Night Watch series featuring the drunk and depressed Captain Vimes, the human who thinks he’s a dwarf Carrot, the everyman Nobby and the boomer Sergeant Colon. They act like a tight knit four man improv group, bouncing off each other really well and provide a great foundation for the humor, action and hijinks in the novel.

Book 1: Guards! Guards! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book 7: Thud! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

After reading Thud! and enjoying that, I decided to start reading the entire Discworld City/Night Watch series from the start.

Sam Vimes suffers from a combination of alcoholism and depression leading to his skewed perspective of the world.

Lessee . . . he’d gone off after the funeral and got drunk. No, not drunk, another word, ended with ‘er’. Drunker, that was it. Because world all twisted up and wrong, like distorted glass, only came back into focus if you looked at it through bottom of bottle.

Carrot is a human who was adopted by dwarven parents and so he’s essentially a dwarf in a human body.

“Oh, give up!” he said. “Are you going to come quietly?” The mumbling went on. The air began to feel hot and dry. Vimes shrugged. “That’s it, then,” he said, and turned away. “Throw the book at him, Carrot.” “Right, sir.” Vimes remembered too late.

Dwarfs have trouble with metaphors. They also have a very good aim. The Laws and Ordinances of Ankh and Morpork caught the […] on the forehead. He blinked, staggered, and stepped backwards. It was the longest step he ever took. For one thing, it lasted the rest of his life.

Nobby is the everyman, he is very down to earth.

It always amazed Vimes how Nobby got along with practically everyone. It must, he’d decided, have something to do with the common denominator. In the entire world of mathematics there could be no denominator as common as Nobby.

Sergeant Colon is the boomer of the group.

Sergeant Colon owed thirty years of happy marriage to the fact that Mrs Colon worked all day and Sergeant Colon worked all night. They communicated by means of notes. He got her tea ready before he left at night, she left his breakfast nice and hot in the oven in the mornings. They had three grown-up children, all born, Vimes had assumed, as a result of extremely persuasive handwriting.

These are the men who’ve been tasked with keeping the city safe. Conveniently, Ankh-Morpork quickly finds itself under attack by a powerful force and Captain Vimes and his constables (with a LOT of help from the larger than life noblewoman Lady Sybil Ramkin and her stable of swamp dragons) are the only people standing in the way of the total destruction of the city.

Guards! Guards! is not my favorite of Terry Pratchett’s work. It’s one of his earlier novels in the Discworld universe so he’s still figuring things out.

The parts where the POV shifts away from the Night Watch (and Sybil) are not as compelling and could have probably been edited away.

But, everything else is great. The jokes land. The characters are paper thin and yet somehow Terry manages to make them come to life anyway. Their chemistry is off the charts and it’s a joy to read.

Of course, Carrot being a dwarf in a human body can be read as him being autistic (one of many examples of autistic representation in Terry Pratchett’s work).

He takes things very literally. He’s oblivious to social cues. It’s pretty on the nose.

I appreciate this depiction because despite him being a caricature, every other character is too. He’s never the butt of the joke, his actions might be what cause a comical situation to occur but we’re not laughing at him. We’re laughing at the situation that Carrot and the other constables find themselves in.

Carrot, unlike the rest of Night Watch, seems to be genuinely happy about being a constable (proven by the letters he regularly writes to his parents back home). He has a positive outlook on life and is happy to be where he is. Over time, his positive outlook rubs off on the other constables, gets them to get off their asses and get to work helping people.

Carrot is oblivious to the fact that when he first comes to Ankh-Morpork, he’s essentially working as a bouncer for a whorehouse (he believes that the Lady of the house just has a bunch of unmarried daughters).

Sure, he’s different but that’s OK. This is one example of many in Terry Pratchett’s work of characters who are really out there and different and people around them love them anyway.

The implication, whether that was Terry’s intent or not, is that you can be different in your own way and you can be loved too.

The real world isn’t as simple as a Terry Pratchett novel. But his work is a constant reminder that there’s at least one person on the planet who understood a part of my struggle and accepts me (and people like me) for who I am.

If there’s one person like Terry out there, there’s got to be more. Even though Terry passed away in 2015, the positive influence of his work continues to spread and I suspect (and I hope) that many people will continue to enjoy his work for many generations to come.

His work deserves it.