41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Pratchett's Discworld books can be further subdivided into several series starring various lead characters (Rincewind, Granny Weatherwax, Death, etc) - Guards! Guards! is the first of the 'Watch' books, which taken en masse are probably the best Discworld books of all. The story concerns a plan to depose the current ruler of Ankh-Morpork by using magic to summon a dragon to terrorize the city, and stage manage a false hero to defeat the menace and be crowned king - needless to say these plans go wrong, and the summoned dragon cannot be controlled, and takes Ankh-Morpork for itself...
The novel introduces the recurring unlikely heroes of the Night Watch, a ragged bunch of city guards who, thanks to the official policing of thievery by the Thieves Guild, aren't actually supposed to do anything normally. Captain Sam Vimes is ostensibly the lead hero character, though it's interesting looking back at his first novel that the character is more of a jaded alcoholic than the 'super-policeman trapped in a diplomats body' that the character would develop into. Other new faces that would go on to feature in numerous novels include the cynical Sergeant Colon, the loathsome Corporal Nobbs, and new recruit Constable Carrot - a human raised by dwarves with a heroic background only hinted at here. Other notable first appearances include the Patrician Lord Vetanari - while the character had been named in previous books this was the first time the character actually took on a central role, and became the familiar all knowing, all-scheming ruler of Ankh-Morpork, and street vendor Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, though the character was initially more of an all-round spiv than just a seller of dubious pork products.
Guards! Guards! has a plot that rattles along at a good speed, plenty of memorable characters, and is one of Pratchett's funniest novels (the 'It's a million to one chance - but it might just work' sequence being possibly the best extended gag). For those who've read the previous 7 Discworld novels this is the best one yet, and thanks to its nature as the first 'Watch' book this is also a great jumping on point for new readers. Highly recommended.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the three best books by Terry Pratchett, at least according to my personal taste (the other two being "Small Gods" and "Hogfather"). It is very unfrequent to find so many qualities in one book. All Discworld novels are funny, but this one is purely irresistible.
The gallery of exceptionally funny characters is simply unbelievable. This is the first of books about the Night Watch in Ankh Morpork so be prepared to meet many new characters - Sam Vimes, hard drinking police veteran, very low on his luck but destined to a great future; sergeant Colon, possibly the best caricature of the typical Bobby I ever saw; corporal Nobby Nobbs, who, as we all know, was "disqualified from human race for shoving"; and especially constable Carrot, the biggest dwarf who ever lived and possibly the ONLY honest person in all Ankh Morpork.
Those four guys form one of the most likeable cop teams I ever saw - and they have a really big problem to deal with... the kind of problem that sleeps on golden hoard, breaths fire and eat maidens. Then there is also the secret society - possibly the most hilarious secret society I ever saw in a book, plotting to take power and never paying for pizza... And of course the Patrician or Lord Havelock Vetinari, the smartest, the most devious and most dangerous (although not TOTALLY evil or tyranical) ruler in the Discworld history.
This book is a delight. There is not one weak spot, not one failed dialogue, not one weakness in the plot - only a continous, smart, totally comical story about a political plot gone horribly wrong, a small police squad desperately trying not to get eaten, a city that gets a new king and a GREAT (or maybe it is small) love story which will need an old copper tea kettle to find a satisfactory conclusion, the item being eaten in the processus...
Buy it and read it! You will not regret it and you will be then able to enjoy other Night Watch stories in Discworld novels - they are worth it.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 October 2004
Sorry about the somewhat crazed title but this book is pure genius. You are bound to love(not literally in the case of Corporal Nobby Nobbs)the new characters, he builds their personalities and deepens their characters as the story progresses. From the ingenius idea of creating this book, Pratchett has built a whole new world for the night watchmen, it is still the same old city but here you get to see what the underbelly(it's actually more of a beer belly as the underbelly isn't very well hidden) of Ankh-Morpork real is like. The dismally depleeted watch is a cast of incredible characters: the drunkard, head of the watch Sam Vimes(one of the best characters ever created), the brand new recruit from outside the city Corporal Carrot(6 feet high man who counts as a dwarf and is living in a house of "seamstresses" and an all round good guy), Sergeant Colon(born to be a big, fat sergeant) and Corporal Nobby Nobbs(the less said the better). They are caught in a timeless tale of a dragon terrorizing the city and a book called "The Summoning of Dragons" (it tells you how to summon dragons)which has been stolen from Unseen University (the wizard school). If it has one problem it is: justkidding, it doesn't have one. The other characters are insanely fantastic. The malevolent Lord Vetinari, the malevolent Dragon, the "elegant" Sybil Ramkin and her swamp dragons (they live in fear of their digestive systems). A masterpiece at its worst and a perfect place to start for new comers, once you've read it the rest of the Citywatch books is the way to go!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 22 May 2000
I laughed so much at one joke that I was nearly thrown off the train. The watch and the witches are my favourite - their humour is so real.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
"Guards ! Guards !" is the eighth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series and is the first to focus on Sam Vimes and Ankh-Morpork's City Guard. Although the City Guard was once a fine and noble profession, it has fallen by the wayside in recent years. Once, there had been hundreds of members : as the book opens, the City's Night Watch is staffed only by Sam, Sergeant Fred Colon and Corporal Nobby Nobbs. Like the Night Watch itself, Sam has also fallen on hard times. Having started drinking to forget (it was possibly something to do with a woman), he now drinks to forget the drinking. Despite his faults, though, he's a likeable cynic who has a well-developed sense of fair play and identifies with the underdog.
Things start turning around for Sam and the Watch in "Guards ! Guards !". The force sees a dramatic rise in numbers with the arrival of Carrot Ironfoundersson. Orphaned as a baby, Carrot had been taken in by the dwarfs and raised in a gold mine. Until shortly before he left home, he didn't realise he was human - he'd always thought he was just tall for his species. His adoptive father decides it's best for Carrot to spend some time with other humans and 'manages' to secure a position for him in the Ankh-Morpork City Guard. Carrot, on his arrival, is viewed with some amazement : an actual, honest volunteer. He takes things very literally (as dwarfs tend to do), is very innocent (he wouldn't know what to do with a seamstress if one fell into his lap) and a lot of the humour comes from his utter confusion.
The problem for Sam and the Night Watch is presented by the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren. Well, actually, the problem is its mysterious (and big-headed) Supreme Grand Master, an ambitious and manipulative individual. (The remaining members are bitter, vitriolic, small-minded, jealous, resentful and a bit stupid. As a result, they're very easy to manipulate). He's devised a Machiavellian plan that will involve the removal of the Patrician (Ankh-Morpork's tyrant) and lead to the restoration of the monarchy. Unfortunately, his plan involves the controlling of a very dangerous dragon - to that end, Brother Fingers has managed to 'acquire' De Malachite's book on summoning dragons from the Unseen University's library. For some reason, it doesn't seem to bother him that the book is badly burnt.
This is the first of the Discworld books to feature Sam and the City Guard. As a result, it's a pretty good starting point if you've never read any of the other Discworld books before and want to see what you're missing. Pratchett's books are always very funny and this one gets better as it goes along. Definitely recommended.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2000
'Guards! Guards!' was not the first City Watch book I read. But after reading, and LOVING, 'Men at Arms', I just knew I had to get this one. From the start of the book, when the plot was established, and the characters introduced, I knew I was onto something good. I enjoyed the range of characters involved, particularly the obvious differences between Vimes and Carrot. The plot, basically the idea of a dragon ruling a city after being conjured up by a mad secretary, is absurd, but thoroughly Discworld. There is a lot of good humour in here to, much of it is darkly hilarious, but this is a good thing as it contrasts with the crime/mystery atmosphere that surrounds this, and indeed all of the City Watch books. The villain in this is Lupine Wonse, secretary to Lord Vetinari. Apparently from the same background as Sam Vimes, he is a strangely clever, if quite insane character. The way, in which Pratchett shows the whole situation to be getting first out of Wonse's hands, and then spiralling out of control, portrays two things. First it shows, brilliantly in my opinion, Wonse turning from disillusioned and power-crazy, to the maniac he is by the end. This also shows how Pratchett can build up the drama up to the very end of his books. From reading all of Pratchett's City Watch books I can see then is a similar pattern in all of them. They each have a dark and mysterious atmosphere and defiantly the nastiest jokes in any of the Discworld books. Here, 'Guards Guards!' is no exception. My favourite joke in 'Guards! Guards!' is from an incautious Vimes, "Throw the book at him, Carrot ....." Overall ,this is a excellent City Watch book, and probably my favourite Discworld book so far.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
`Guards! Guards!' is the eighth book in the Discworld series and the first to focus on the Ankh-Morpork City Watch. I must admit to not really being much of a fan of the Watch books but after having reread `Guards! Guards!' I may have to make a reappraisal of that view. The story sees a young man named Carrot journey to Ankh-Morpork to join the Watch and have a man made out of him. The only trouble is the Watch is currently staffed by only three officers and they are more interested in keeping their own hides in one piece than keeping the peace and a secret society is planning on summoning a dragon to take over the city.
I must admit I enjoyed this book more now than I did when I first read it and I cannot see why I use to dislike it. The characters from this book go on to be some of the best from the entire Discworld series and the story is very funny as well. This was the first Discworld book to really expand the character of Lord Vetinari and start to tie down some of the facets of Ankh-Morpork life which become staples of the later books. This was a very enjoyable book and although it still isn't one of my all-time favourite Discworld books, it was still a very good read.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 15 May 2001
I've read 9 of the books in the Discworld series now, reading my tenth now (Equal Rights) and all of them have been fantastic. This, however, is the best. The descriptions of the setting - Ankh Morpork, the shades and eveything else in it is wonderful. The characters are perfect, you can fall in love with 'em. Carrot, Captain Vimes, Sergent Colon, Nobby, Errol, the librarian etc. Then there's the jokes throughout the book and a fantastic story to finish it off. Probably the best book I've ever read.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Discworld really doesn't get any better or funnier than this. For the first time in the series, we get an extended up-close view of life in the remarkable city of Anhk-Morpork. We are introduced to such wonderful characters as Captain Vimes of the City Watch and his singular subordinates Nobby, Colon, and the giant dwarf (adopted) Carrot; the formidable Lady Ramkin; and Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler. The remarkable fashion in which the Patrician Lord Vetinari runs the city is explained in some detail, we begin to really get to know the Librarian of Unseen University (who was of course turned into an orangutan some type back as a result of a magical accident), and Pratchett gives us a basic rundown on the theory of L-Space under which all libraries work and are magically connected.
Everyone knows that dragons do not exist, not the type of giant mythical creatures who fly around breathing fire all over the place. Thus, it comes as something of a surprise to people when Anhk-Morpork begins experiencing incidents of the body-melting variety; such a perpetrator can only be dismissed for so long as a giant wading bird, however. It seems that a group of unimportant have-nots has been wooed into a secret society bent on teaching the haves a lesson or two by magically summoning a dragon to carry out their wishes. Naturally, things get out of hand, and the dragon finds a way to establish permanent residence in reality. Declaring himself king of the city, preparations are made to turn over treasure and begin sacrificing maidens. The City Watch has long been nothing but a joke in town, especially after the establishment of proper guilds virtually eliminated illegal illegality, and Captain Vimes and his men have no desire to enforce the law anyway, unless enforcing the law somehow involves drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Young Carrot (who has just found out he is a human and not a dwarf after all, all six and a half feet of him) amazingly volunteers for the Watch and actually tries to enforce the law, thereby causing a bit of controversy at first. Then the dragon business comes along, and the City Watchmen take it upon themselves to try and overcome the wossname since no one else, aside from the noble swamp-dragon enthusiast Lady Ramkin, seems to offer much resistance at all (even when extolled by Sergeant Colon's rally cry "The people united can never be ignited!"). Of course, the odds of solving such a crisis as this are a million-to-one; odds of a million-to-one guarantees success, as everyone knows, and the problem comes in making sure your plan's chance of success does not miss the mark; it can't be a thousand-to-one or even 999,999-to-one odds because you've never heard of anyone succeeding with those odds against them, now have you?
There is so much that goes to the very heart of the Discworld in this novel that one cannot begin to list it all here. Captain Vimes and the City Watch members are some of the most human characters in the series, and they also happen to be very funny. Virtually everything about this book is terribly funny. The only question I have about this novel is how in the world the inept wizard Rincewind managed to be completely absent from such a dangerous situation as the one represented by the dragon to the city. It's really best that he does not appear in these pages, though, as it would take something away from the incredible appeal of the City Watch characters. If ever a Discworld novel were required reading, it would have to be Guards! Guards! If you can't enjoy this book, then Pratchett's Discworld series is not for you.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 29 August 2003
Guards! Guards! is the first book about the city watch, the most entertaining and hilarious series of all. If you are new to Discworld and do not wish to read through all 27 or so books in order then Guards! Guards! is the best place to start. The city watch has the finest collection of characters in all of the Discworld books easily beating the witches series and the Rincewind series. Captain Vimes is my favourite of all and the much loved Carrot is excellent foil. Nobby and Sgt Colon are also among the best but most importantly maybe is that it is all set in Ankh-Morpork. The most glorious city to have ever have been called Ankh-Morpork.
From the dedication onwards this book is funny and compelling and at the end of it you will undoubtedly be asking for more. That you will go on to read 'Men at Arms', 'Feet of Clay', 'Jingo', 'The Fifth Elephant' and then Pratchett's real masterpiece 'Night Watch' is a foregone conclusion.
Excellent, yet they keep on getting better.