Monday, 26 November 2012

Curled Up Next to the Fire: Guards! Guards!

Now this has taken me some time to get to. It's a strange old story really. I tell people I'm a geek and it conjures up all sorts of images and associations in their heads. Also a lot of assumptions. They assume I've seen this or read that. Then I have to squeak in an ashamed tone of voice, "Well, er, actually, it, uh, turns I out I haven't." Notable examples of this are having only seen Lord of the Rings: Return of the King the whole way through and not the other two movies and, until about twenty minutes ago, never having read a single Terry Pratchett book.

All these things, by the way, are grievous offences that I am working to rectify. Life just keeps getting in the way, you know? Pesky Life. Should mind its own business really.


Anyway, moving swiftly on from what could become some kind of existential rant, my purpose here is actually to rave. You see, all those people who kept telling me and telling me that I would love the Terry Pratchett books can now beam with the pride of "I told you so". Might even let them say it. Once.

So, my at-long-last induction into the wondrous world of Terry Pratchett. In the years that I was harassed to read the books (and being read very, very amusing snippets), I was told that instead of starting in the logical and fabled place of "The Beginning", I should avoid doing that and start with the City Watch sub-series of the Discworld novels. Given that the very, very amusing snippets read to me were from the City Watch/Samuel Vimes books, I picked up Guards! Guards! And in the last week (or two, temporal mechanics has gone all a bit fuzzy now), I have been finding it somewhat tricky to put the book down.

Now at first the structure worried me. I'm an OCD man, I like to finish a chapter of a book before putting it down and going to bed/conducting whatever mundane Life activity I have to perform. So when I first sat up in bed to read Guards! Guards! I did my usual trick of un-focusing my eyes (sounds weird, but the vision is blurred enough that I can barely read words and thus avoid spoilers) and flicked ahead to find the chapter end so I knew when I would be logically able to put it down, should sleepiness overcome my desire to read. And this is when I found that there were no chapter breaks. This was a little disconcerting, but I pressed ahead regardless. Must have demolished about twenty pages before heavy eyelids made me put it down. And a very amusing twenty pages they were. After that, worries about structure melted away and whole thing just flowed quite beautifully. Probably helped with the whole not-quite-being-able-to-put-it-down thing.

I imagine a good percentage of my readership are more than a passing familiarity with the works of Terry Pratchett and how deeply, deeply hilarious they are. I had been told and told, but I guess I never truly one hundred percent believed it until it was staring me in the face, reducing me to absolute hysterics.

It has just occurred to me that I've missed out on a certain obligation of book review-type posts - a brief summation of the plot.

So, Guards! Guards! is the story of Captain Samuel Vimes, currently commander of the Night Watch in Ankh-Morpork's City Watch. And he has a lot to deal with - new recruit Carrot Ironfoundersson, a suspiciously human-looking dwarf who actually believes in the Law and goes around arresting people and, unknown to him, a secret brotherhood that are busy going about trying to conjure up a dragon. All in all, the last things Captain Vimes ever expected to have to deal with.

Now back to the hysterics. Not many books can claim the honour of making me laugh out loud. Especially in public. They are Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (and its two subsequent sequels, Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe and Everything) by Douglas Adams and jPod by Douglas Coupland. Notice a trend? Both called Douglas. But now, Terry Pratchett has muscled his way into a neat little spot that I suspect was waiting for him all this time.

Also, pretty much every Ankh-Morporkian speaks in a West Country accent. Especially Sergeant Colon. Might be a side effect of living in Somerset, but whenever I read their dialogue, it's definitely West Country. Don't know about everyone else's opinions on that score.

So there we have it really. Everyone now gets to pat themselves on the back and say "I told you so". Because you did bloody well tell me, didn't you?

1 comment:

  1. "I told you so" okay I may not have done but I should have done.
    "Carrot was two metres tall but he'd been brought up as a dwarf, and then further up as a human."

    -- (Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms)

    Briliant Quote without giving away the next books story line. Read Men At Arms, much much better (it's about the breakdown of law and order they are always--well not always-- a hoot) Dammit read the whole lot. Can't think of one bad one and I've read the whole lot so far.

    For When you become a real fan boy: