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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The people united can never be ignited!, 21 Aug. 2003
This review is from: Guards! Guards!: (Discworld Novel 8) (Discworld Novels) (Paperback)
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.
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