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(P)ISIS Publishing Ltd, 1995; Copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1989; Cover Illustration © Josh Kirby
I must confess I am a devoted Terry Pratchett fan so this review is probably somewhat biased. Guards! Guards! is on one of the first Discworld novels I read and it is still one of my favourites. The story is about what happens when an earnest young man who has been taught about the law comes to a city where thieves and assassins are pillars of the community and the city watch is a running joke. It also about the power of mediocrity. And of course the power of a book.
Highlights include quotes such as:
"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."
"A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read."
"There was a thoughtful pause in the conversation as the assembled Brethren mentally divided the universe into he deserving and the undeserving, and put themselves on the appropriate side.
Every time I read (or in this case listen) to it I am struck anew by the wit and insight dripping from each line. If you want a good fantasy novel and appreciate satire and a dry British wit, this book is for you.
Note- this is an excellent book to start with if you are thinking of trying Terry Pratchett, it introduces one of the best groups of characters in the Discworld but it also stands on its own.
P.S. This is a must read for any body who works in a Library.
I just started listening to the series again, for the umpteenth time, and I noticed that this is the novel where Pratchett really hits his stride. His earlier novels are extremely good, but they don't have quite the edge of this one. It's worth a listen just for the secret password scene at the beginning of the novel.
What's really mind boggling is to think that his wit and gift for language just keep getting better in each book. By the time he reaches Going Postal, which I think is #29 in the series (how often does anyone write 29 books, let alone 29 excellent books), you're not so much reading as admiring a truly jaw-dropping performance.
Audible Member Since 2003
Not understanding what all the Discworld series hoopla was about I decided to start with GUARDS! GUARDS! I was not sure I wanted to listen to a fantasy book complete with wizards and dragons, but quickly I learned it wasn't really about the setting of the story that so enamoured Pratchett's fans. It's the writing dripping with brilliant comedy and sarcasm. This guy is really good.
One really has to listen to it to appreciate it, but I suppose the best way to characterize this story is Monty Python meets Lord of the Rings. And that description is lame by comparison to the actual work of Terry Pratchett. Go ahead - give it a try. It's a lot of fun.
Metaphor never had it so good! Brilliantly read, clever, funny and engaging. I wanted start it over as soon as I was done.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
Excellent narration, but old, with some soft whirring sounds that I quickly tuned out. I've read Sir Terry Pratchett's entire "City Watch" Series — a subset of his Discworld Novels. This series has it all: elegant plotting, suspense, action, relationship development, character-development, punnery, parody, and plenty of political and social satire. Plus, a little romance (a very little).
Minor Quibbles: This book has a coherent plot, but the pace begins slowly with the lengthy secret brotherhood meeting. Sometimes, the jokes and the running commentary bog down the flow for a minute, and sometimes the satire feels teachy/preachy, but not enough to keep me away.
GUARDS! GUARDS! is the first book in the Discworld sub-series, where we meet Sam Vimes, captain of the Night Watch, the sorriest police force ever. Vimes is a fabulous character in the way of film-noir, hard-boiled yet soft hearted with an iron core of courage and integrity. We see him progress from boozing loser to protector of the people, upholder of the law, champion of the weak, and overall hero.
I LOVED the scene when Vimes riffs Clint Eastwood's DIRTY HARRY: "What you've gotta ask yourselves is, 'Am I feeling lucky?' Well? Are you feeling lucky?"
I also adore the Patrician (ruler) of the city of Ankh-Morpork, a (sometimes) benevolent dictator/ assassin named Lord Vetinari. He's a pragmatist and a realist of the highest order, having no illusions about his fellow man and happy to manipulate human nature to further his goals, but somehow he's likable enough, for all that. His "conversations" with Vimes are hilarious.
Then there's Constable Carrot, the huge "dwarf" with an even bigger heart. There's chubby old Sergeant Colon and monkey-faced Nobby Nobbs. What a fabulous cast of characters in this series -- a mix of humans and trolls, dwarves, werewolves, gnomes, vampires, wizards, dragons, etc. Pratchett peppers the series with satire and social commentary on gender, race, and species equality, the nature of humanity and the nature of life itself (the undead are alive?). In fact, the beloved Discworld character named Death, aka Mort, makes at least a cameo in every book, too.
SETTING: Here be wizards and magic and dragons. Small swamp dragons and huge noble dragons. Good-boy Bindle Featherstone (Errol) plays a key role in this book.
Pratchett and his faithful readers have made famous the fantastical planet Discworld and the vast twin-city of Ankh-Morpork. Even though the books are set on a fictional planet, the setting is similar to Old London, back when guild houses were prevalent, around 1400 I'd guess. Like old London, Ankh-Morpork is a city on the brink of advance. In fact, this is the city before an organized, equipped, and authorized police system even existed. Only the "Watch" existed, a handful of barely acknowledged men -- yes, all men at first -- who walked the beat. Or shuffled. Snoozed. Boozed.
Across the City Watch series and the cross-over "Modernization / Civic Industry" books with Moist Von Lipwig (Going Postal, Making Money, Raising Steam, The Truth, Moving Pictures), the shambling Night Watch develops into a force akin to Scotland Yard, and the City they protect moves out of the Middle Ages into a Modern-ish era.
Pratchett created a flat world that feels real, vivid, and almost round.
I contacted customer service over the editing gaff in this recording. More or less I told them exactly how to hear the mistake themselves. at 4:43:30 in to the play time.
In less than a day, Angelys R. with Audible Customer Support responded with "I have entered this audio file into our audio bug department and have reported the issue to this department. Please allow some time for our audio technicians to repair this file. Once repaired; they will contact you via email to inform you that this file has been replaced within your online library and you can re-download"
I am quite pleased with this response!
I enjoyed the story beyond the distracting editing gaff. I will not be requesting a refund.
Then laughed some more. Pratchett only gets better as he continues this series. If you've never heard any of his books, this is as good a place to start as any. If you're familiar, well, this is another jewel in the Discworld necklace.
This is a fun book with quite a bit of character development. Mr. Planer voices the characters very nicely and we again hear the humor of Mr. Pratchett in his wonderful descriptions, settings and metaphors. This is a good police procedural wrapped up in the trappings of the disc world and I enjoyed it.
The quality of this recording is probably one of the best of the Discworld series that I've heard from Audible.com. I noticed the cover was new - a mostly black design. I suppose that means the source is from a newly released, remastered version. There is no hiss or pops or other technical glitches that mar the other recordings in this series.
The story itself is great and marks the point at which the series becomes really enjoyable and fun. The very first books in the series where good, but looking back, you can see how awkward those first few stories where, and the living background of the Discworld hadn't yet come into its own. The Discworld and its history go from being randomly thrown together references of other genres, and establishes a consistent history of its own that all the following books fit into.
Pratchett loves detective stories, and that becomes obvious when you listen to this fantastical mashup of Columbo, Hill Street Blues and a little Dirty Harry thrown in. I think the books that focus on the Watch are probably my favorite - at once the most 'modern' feeling, and the most filled with references and hilarity.
Guards! Guards! may very well be, in my humble opinion, Pratchett's best Discworld book yet. The characters are so unique and relatable that I sometimes feel as though I might have met them before. The librarian of Unseen University is, far and away, my favorite character, and his inclusion in this book was delightful and hysterical. So hysterical that my husband will no longer let me listen to Pratchett when he's working from home because my laughter disrupts his concentration. Vimes is as salty as ever, even faced with dragons, and the added bonus of a mystery/conspiracy put this Discworld volume above all the rest. I confess that I'm only two-thirds of the way through the series, but I am steadily plowing ahead with great anticipation, as well as fear that one day I will reach the end...and it will be, well, the end.
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