Guards! Guards! (1989)

Guards! Guards! begins with an Ankh-Morpork brought to her knees by the fiascos of its previous rulers and the manipulations of its present Patrician, Lord Vetinari. Lord Vetinari has worked hard to subvert any thought of traditional social contract between ruler and the ruled. He has created organized crime/intricate guild system and subverted Ankh-Morpork’s police force/Watch. Its officers are no longer considered a threat to those who break the “law”.

The city wasa, wasa, wasa wossname. Thing. Woman. Thass what it was. Woman. Roaring, ancient, centuries old. Strung you along, let you fall in thingy, love with her, then kicked you inna, inna, thingy. thingy, in your mouth. Tongue. Tonsils. Teeth. That’s what it, she did. She wasa … thing, you know, lady dog. Puppy. Hen. Bitch. And then you hated her and, and, just when you thought you’d got her, it, out of your, whatever, then she opened her great rotten heart to you, caught you off bal, bal, bal, thing. Ance. Yeah. Thassit. Never knew where you stood. Lay. Only thing you were sure of, you couldn’t let her go. Because, because she was yours, all you had, even in her gutters …..

Captain Vimes is the leader of the Watch. A man who has no experience with rose-tinted glasses. Growing up in the Shades will do that to you. Brought to his knees by the manipulations of the Patrician, Vimes has become a severely depressed alcoholic who drinks to forget what he, and his Watch, have become.

In other words, both Ankh-Morpork and Captain Vimes seem ready for some kind of catalyst. And that is what Pratchett gives us. One of those catalysts brings a mystery to the eyes and ears of the entire Watch.

And then there was a sound –

– perhaps a volcanic sound, or the sound of a boiling geyser, but at any rate a long, dry roar of a sound, like the bellows in the forges of the Titans –

– but it was not so bad as the light, which was blue-white and the sort of light to print the pattern of your eyeballs’ blood vessels on the back of the inside of your skull.

According to the Patrician, they are dealing with a gigantic “wading bird” and “gang war”. Vimes does not agree.  The other catalyst comes in the form of a six foot six dwarf. For the sake of spoofing, the dwarfs of Discworld are similar to the dwarfs of epic fantasy, i.e. miners whose idea of a good height for a mine is five feet. As far as he knows, Carrot is a dwarf. When he becomes sixteen, Carrot discovers that he is not, in fact, a dwarf. Instead, he is a human like those on the surface. His father wrote to the Patrician inquiring about the possibility of a position with the Watch. Once the letter of hire is received, Carrot travels to Ankh-Morpork to “have a man made of him.” On his he memorizes most of Ankh-Morpork’s laws.

Why do I love Guards! Guards!? Pratchett is an excellent writer and this is probably one of his better works. He lays our (humanity’s) weaknesses and strengths in front of us in a manner that is both warm and sharp. No issue is too sacred. With Carrot, Vimes and Wonce we explore the long-term effects of personality, environment and chance. Colon allows us a look at the way some marriages survive. Sybil and Vimes show us loneliness and depression and different ways of coping. They also bring an odd version of Cinderella to the Discworld. The Patrian and the dragon show us two sides of the same type of leadership. Theirs aren’t the only types of leadership we see. Organized crime is a fitting word for the guild system, and the wizards, of the city. In addition, there is the Supreme Grand Master of the The Elucidated Brethren. Democracy is a term the citizens of Ankh-Morpork are unfamiliar with. The Librarian remains comfortable in his skin. Lines between classes are best seen in the river of Ankh-Morpork and, indeed, it does divide “betters” (Morpork) from their “lessers” (Ankh).

With Guards! Guards! Pratchett’s satire pricks me, and hopefully many others, with its truths. Mainly though, I am left with a sense of hope. Or perhaps opportunities? Anyways. Absolutely fabulous.


Translations:

  • Audiobook: Guards! Guards!; Narrator Nigel Planer; Random House AudioBooks, 2007
  • Bulgarian: Стражите! Стражите!; Translator Мирела Христова; ИК Вузев, 1998
  • Chinese: 來人啊!Translator 魯宓 (Hu Shu); 寂寞出版股份有限公司, 2012
  • Czech: Stráže! Stráže!; Translator Jan Kantůrek; Talpress, 1995
  • Dutch: Wacht! Wacht!; Translator Venugopalan Ittekot; Het Spectrum, 1993
  • Estonian: Vahid! Vahid!; Translator Allan Eichenbaum; Varrak, 2002
  • Finnish: Vartijat, hoi!; Translator Marja Sinkkonen; Karisto, 1999
  • French: Au Guet!; Translator Patrick Couton; Nantes, L’Atalante, 1997
  • German: Wachen! Wachen!; Translator Andreas Brandhorst; Münich, Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1991
  • Hebrew: שומרים! שומרים! Shomrim! Shomrim!; Translator Shelomit Hendelsman; 1998
  • Hungarian: Őrség! Őrség!; Translator Sohár Anikó; Cherubion, 2000
  • Italian: A me le guardie!; Translator Antonella Pieretti; Milano, Salani, 2002
  • Norwegian: I lovens navn!; Translator Torleif Sjøgren-Erichsen; Tiden, 2002
  • Polish: Straż! Straż!; Translator Piotr W. Cholewa; Warszawa, Prószyński i S-ka, 1989
  • Portuguese (Brazil): Guardas! Guardas!; Translator Ludimila Hashimoto; São Paulo, Conrad Editora do Brasil, 2005
  • Romanian: Gărzi! Gărzi!; Translator Mihalescu Bogdan; Rao, 2008
  • Russian: Стража! Стража!; Translator Светлана Увбарх; Москва, Эксмо, 2001
  • Serbian: Straža! Straža!; Preveo: Dejan Papić; Beograd, Laguna, 2000
  • Spanish: ¡Guardias! ¡Guardias!; Translator Cristina Macía Orio; Barcelona, Martínez-Roca, 1993
  • Swedish: I lagens namn!; Translator Peter Lindforss; Stockholm, Wahlströms, 1995
  • Turkish: Muhafızlar! Muhafızlar!; Translator Niran Elçi; İthaki Yayınları, 2003
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About humanitysdarkerside

Bibliophile, small-time activist, ASD, blogger

Posted on 2018-03-26, in Book reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Reblogged this on humanitysdarkerside and commented:

    My review of Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! from my Terry Pratchett blog.

    Like

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