Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Have another belated review from a couple of March Magics ago. XD



Title: Guards! Guards!

Author: Terry Pratchett


This is less of a review, and more of a things-and-thoughts-about-the-book sort of affair.

I read this one a bit belatedly for March Magics—my first Pratchett novel. People say his books are reminiscent of DWJ, and there is a reason, namely: hilarious fantasy. (I still prefer hers, but he can be fun.)

It’s hilarious and a mess and doesn’t take itself seriously, and is basically a fun rollick. XD It takes SO MANY fantasy tropes and turns them on their heads. It has footnotes. (And one of its footnotes had footnotes.) Any book that has as detailed a thing about libraries on page three as this one has is bound to be great. (Also, the librarian is an orangutan. Because it can.)

The blurb (at least the one I read) seems to act like the book is about Carrot, but it’s really about Vimes. Captain Vimes is the LAST person you’d think of as a hero or even as Main Character material. He’s the most unlikely hero imaginable. But I surprised myself by realizing by the end that I absolutely loved him! XD He’s great.

Anyway, it follows the Night Watch of the city of Ankh-Morpork, a few down-on their luck, scrapings-of-the-gutter fellows. Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, Nobby, and Carrot. There’s also Lady Ramkin, who is interesting; the Patrician, who is creepy; and the little dragon named Errol!! (My favorite quote about Errol: “He’d eaten most of the table, the grate, the coal scuttle, several lamps and the squeaky rubber hippo.”)

You can’t really describe the PLOT, as such… there’s just a lot of stuff going on. There’s the Watch, and shenanigans, and it’s fun. 😀

Also, silly names like the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night. And helmet plumes. Also: dragons! And there’s a dash of timey-wimey to spice things up. The thing about the lost heirs!! (I kind of wish it might have turned out a little different about that character… but I don’t know if he’d have wanted that anyway, so I dunno.) There’s a bit of language/rude jokes, but still. I loved the thing about “a million to one chance but it just might work” and how people never say “it’s a certainty but it just might work”. XD There were also some brilliant things about dungeons (never build one you can’t escape from). And, of course, how people in books tend to yell “Guards! Guards!” — because they really do.

There are no chapters, just scene breaks, so it feels like a movie. This also makes it impossible to stop reading, which is awkward for those of us who need to remember to go sleep sometime.

Anyway, I enjoyed it a good deal, and this and “Mort” are probably still my favorite Pratchett books. 😀 I’ll have to try some more with the Night Watch sometime…

Some Favorite Quotes

“set a deep hole with spring-loaded sides, tripwires, whirling knife blades driven by water power, broken glass and scorpions, to catch a thief”


There is an art in throwing knives and, even then, you need the right kind of knife. Otherwise it does just what this one did, which is miss completely.


It was said that, since vast amounts of magic can seriously distort the mundane world, the Library did not obey the normal rules of space and time. It was said that it went on /forever/. It was said that you could wander for days among the distant shelves, that there were lost tribes of research students somewhere in there, that strange things lurked in forgotten alcoves and were preyed on by other things that were even stranger.*

Wise students in search of more distant volumes took care to leave chalk marks on the shelves as they roamed deeper into the fusty darkness, and told friends to come looking for them if they weren’t back by supper.

*All this was untrue. The truth is that even big collections of ordinary books distort space, as can readily be proved by anyone who has been around a really old-fashioned secondhand bookshop, one of those that look as though they were designed by M. Escher on a bad day and has more staircases than storeys and those rows of shelves which end in little doors that are surely too small for a full-sized human to enter. The relevant equation is: Knowledge = power = energy = matter = mass; a good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.


A couple of guards grabbed Vimes tentatively by the shoulders.

“You’re not going to do anything heroic, are you?” whispered one of them.

“Wouldn’t know where to start,” he said.


“Do you think picking someone up by their ankles and bouncing their head on the floor comes under the heading of Striking a Superior Officer?”


What would Captain Vimes do now? Well, he’d have a drink. But if he didn’t have a drink, what would he do?

“What we need,” he said slowly, “is a Plan.”

That sounded good. That sentence alone sounded worth the pay. If you had a Plan, you were halfway there.


“Oook,” the Librarian pointed out, patiently.

“What? Oh. Sorry.” Vimes lowered the ape, who wisely didn’t make an issue of it because a man angry enough to lift 300lbs of orangutan without noticing is a man with too much on his mind.


Fortunately, the chances of anyone surviving the ensuing explosion were exactly a million-to-one.


Genre/Category: Epic Fantasy

Age Group: Adult

Published: 1989

Pages: 288 pages (hardcover)

Series?: Part of the Discworld series, which frankly confuses me because there’s so many and they’re… yeah, confusing. But also book one in the Night Watch / Ankh-Morpork City Watch sub-series.

When Read: April 5 – 6, 2016

Favorite Character: Captain Vimes

Source: Library

Other Notes: Read it (a week late) for the March Magics a couple years ago, celebrating Diana Wynne Jones and Terry Pratchett, hosted by Kate @ We Be Reading.

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages . . .

~ The Page Dreamer



23 thoughts on “Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

  1. It’s been far too long since I read this one. I’ve read almost all of the Watch subseries. Like the rest of Discworld, I ended up reading this set out of order, so I didn’t get to Guards! Guards! (which is the first featuring the Watch) until about 6 years ago. 😛 Oh, well. I LOVE Vimes. And Carrot, and the swamp dragons!!! And the Watch gets more interesting and complex as their series goes on. Personally, I love Vetenari, but if I were in Anhk Morpork, I wouldn’t trust him, ha. Or maybe I would, I’d be too afraid of accidentally crossing him. And the Librarian is the best! Honestly, I think Unseen University’s Library would be my first choice of fictional book-collection-places to retire to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read a fair bit of Discworld by now, and Guards! Guards! is still one of my favorites. 😀 I agree with most of your thoughts. (That said, I rather like Vetenari, but I’ve also got a lot more experience with him than you have. Or had. Or whatever the correct verb tense is.)

    As a warning- the second book in the Night Watch subseries, Men at Arms, isn’t half as good as Guards! Guards!, or even most of the Discworld novels. You can email me or PM me on Goodreads if you want to know details (of whatever level of spoiler-y-ness you desire), but basically what I’m saying is: if you read it, don’t let it turn you off from the subseries or from Discworld as a whole.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Guards! Guards! might still be my favorite too! I can’t decide. It was my first, so that’s special… (Ooh, I’m now curious what I’ll think of Vetenari if I see more of him.)

      I seem to recall you mentioning that — thanks for the heads-up! I definitely think all the books seem to be on a case-by-case basis — like I didn’t care as much for Soul Music, largely because I didn’t care about all the rock references and didn’t “get” a lot of the book. So yes, I’m cautious of the next one but I’ll not let it put me off, don’t worry! 🙂


  3. Um. WHY HAVE I NOT READ THIS BOOK YET??? It’s been sitting on my shelf for like 2 YEARS NOW. #Shame I knew I wanted to try his books and that they supposed to be funny but ooooh my goodness, this sounds HILARIOUS! It absolutely looks like the type of story I’d LOVE! I think nonsensical stories are the best. (I mean, I’m an Alice in Wonderland fan, obviously I love nonsense. xD) A orangutan as the librarian? WOW. XDDD But the description of that library. O___O I LOVED THAT SO MUCH! I was just sitting here laughing and grinning at ALL the quotes.

    Looks like this needs to go higher up my TBR list! (Like I actually have an organized TBR list… LOL.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yesss, read it! 😀 I think you’d like it! Nonsense books are fun. XD And this one actually does make sense, in a weird way… Anyway, it takes a little getting used to and then it’s just hilarious. And weird. 😛 YES, THE LIBRARY DESCRIPTION. I’ve read a handful of Discworld books and I still think this one’s probably the best! Though I’ve only read a fraction of the ones out there… (And, of course, you might like Hogfather because of the movie. XD) But this is a good one to start with and I love that it can just stand on its own. 🙂

      (Haha, I’m that way too — I say that, but it’s not like a have a numbered list or anything. XD)


  4. I really want to continue on with the Watch series but the library only has the second book in ebook — which I would have to read on my phone. 😛 I may just break down and buy it though because you’ve reminded me how much I liked Guards! Guards!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh, I know that feeling. My usual library doesn’t have the final Death book, and I want it so badly! I’ll have to make it to a different library at some point… And ebooks are hard for me to get around to unless they’re for review — but I read them on my computer, and if I could only do it on a phone, I would be the same as you! (Yeesh.) Guards! Guards is so fun! 😀 I really want to continue the series as well. ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. I’m very late commenting on this, but I’m just stopping in to acknowledge publicly how much I love any Discworld book involving the Watch. XD And I particularly enjoyed this one–I think I actually read it on my way to Realm Makers last year, if my memory serves me right. I know I was on some kind of trip, anyway. Definitely made the miles fly by.

    Liked by 1 person

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