“A book has been taken. A book has been taken? You summoned the Watch,” Carrot drew himself up proudly, “because someone’s taken a book? You think that’s worse than murder?”
The Librarian gave him the kind of look other people would reserve for people who said things like “What’s so bad about genocide?”
Guards! Guards! (Discworld #8)
By Terry Pratchett
An ancient and long-forgotten volume–The Summoning of Dragons–is missing from the Library’s shelves. To the rescue come Captain Vimes, Constable Carrot, and the rest of the Night Watch who, along with other brave citizens, risk everything, including a good roasting, to dethrone the flying monarch and restore order to Ankh-Morpork (before it’s burned to a crisp).
Well now, I’d have to say that Guards! Guards! is my favorite Discworld title thus far. It’s a tough call, between this one and Mort. It really is.
As will all of Pratchett’s Discworld titles, Guards! Guards! is full of a dry, snarky humor that is steeped in cultural references and coated with a heavy layer of sarcasm. The meta-commentary, combined with the ability to turn common fantasy tropes upside down, make this book a delightful read.
At the center was have Carrot, a human raised by dwarves who is tasked with joining the Ankh-Morpork city watch. What he doesn’t know is that this particular order has lost about 99% of its status, and law is pretty much ignored in a city where Thieves and Assasin’s guilds hold heaps of legal power. Carrot’s attempts to do his job well result in the Guard becoming embroiled in a plot involving secret societies, dragons, and a very irate Orangutan who just wants his library book back.
The story is predictable in a few points, but as with most of the books in this series, the ride is just wild enough that the final destination doesn’t really matter. The tale combines characters both old (The Librarian) and new (Carrot, Lady Ramkin, etc.) and builds upon more of the history of Ankh-Morpork, a city that is truly awful and which now has even more facets carved into its design.
Should You Read This?
Perhaps one of the best things about this book is it begins the City Watch story line within the Discworld series. While it wouldn’t hurt you to read the previous seven entries published, it isn’t required. The earlier books will tell you more about the city and about the world in general, and will introduce you to some of the recurring characters, but this title is able to stand alone.
So if you’re a fan of fantasy, of silliness, or of very cynical public servants, this is the book for you.
Summary from Goodreads