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Guards! Guards!

Updated on June 17, 2012

Discworld Poll

Which lead Discworld character do you like the best?

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"Lady Ramkin's bosom rose and fell like an empire."

"The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality."

The city of Ankh-Morpork is under attack and it's up to the courageous men of the Night Watch to save the day! A secret brotherhood of the downtrodden have come up with a plan to call forth a mighty dragon to terrify the city, waiting in the wings with a carefully prepared knight to slay the dragon and take charge of a grateful citizenry. The only problem is that the Samuel Vimes and the men of the Night Watch are on the case.

Unfortunately, the watch isn't what it once was. Captain Vimes, their leader, has found his way to the bottom of the bottle with no way out. Sergeant Colon is a career watchman, more comfortable behind the desk than in the field. And of course Corporal Nobby Nobbs, one of the dirtiest, smelliest, if somewhat criminal, characters on the Disc, who carries a certificate from the Patrician to prove he's human. But they also have a new recruit who's ready to raise the bar for everyone.

Carrot Ironfoundersson, a human raised among dwarves, has been sent to Ankh-Morpork by his adopted family to learn to become a man, and they decide the best job to accomplish this is the City Watch. At six feet, six inches, packed with pure muscle and a tendency to take every instruction literally, he may already be as much man as the city can handle (his first living arrangement is in a bordello). His first act on arrival is to arrest the head of the Thieves Guild, who promptly complains to the Lord Patrician of the city. But his enthusiasm for the law sparks a dying flame in the men of the watch.

But how do you find a dragon in the middle of a city? You find an expert, of course. Enter Lady Sybil Ramkin, an expert on swamp dragons. The Lady Sybil is the last of the line of Ramkins, the highest bred family in the city. Captain Vimes finds himself somewhat out of his depth as he gets to know Sybil, and finds himself swept up in a wholly unexpected adventure that has little to do with law or dragons. And when the dragon finally takes charge of the city, and requires a high-born virgin sacrifice, the lady Sybil finds herself chained to a rock and its up to Vimes to save a life.

Some Thoughts

The first of the Night Watch novels, and the first Discworld novel I read, today it remains my favorite. The men of the Watch have their faults but are still some of the best the city has to offer. The core of steel that is revealed in even Nobby's heart is amazing. Mr. Pratchett does a great job of developing his characters while writing one of his funniest stories. Those new to the Discworld will find they fall into the story easily. Those who have read earlier stories will love the development and expansion of Ankh-Morpork, and get a better idea of its place in the world.

The story is a classic hero adventure, with a twist. Mr. Pratchett has said that when he wrote it he was thinking about how the hero tends to ride into town and woe be to the poor watchman who got in his way! He wondered what the story might look like from the perspective of the men on the other end of the pike, the ones who wake up everyday and put on the armor and, for a few piddling coins, try hard to protect and serve. It turns out that even in Ankh, the guards can have pride and rise to meet a challenge.


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    • kaytee37 profile image

      kaytee37 8 years ago

      well written! i love terry pratchett and sam vimes is my favorite discworld character.

    • profile image

      Dana 8 years ago

      I agree, this is one of my favorites.