Tag: Ankh-Morpork

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

Posted May 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Fantasy / 0 Comments

Guards! Guards! by Terry PratchettTitle: Guards! Guards! (Goodreads)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Series: Discworld #8
Published: Orion, 1998
Pages: 317
Genres: Fantasy
My Copy: Borrowed from a Friend

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

The Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night is a secret organisation that plans to overthrow the Patrician and install a king of their choosing; a puppet under the control of the Supreme Grand Master. Using a stolen magic book to summon a dragon on the people of Ankh-Morpork, the plan is to slay the dragon, rid the city of its tyranny and have their hero take the throne.

Guards! Guards! attempts to parody Hard-Boiled and Noir novels with elements of police procedurals but there is one thing that really doesn’t match this style. Guards! Guards! is writing in third person with an omniscient and reliable narrator, this really seems weird since the style of novel it is trying to parody is often first person and unreliable. I’m not sure if it is the fact that all Terry Pratchett novels are written in the same style but it really didn’t help me connect with the novel, let alone notice most of the parodies.

This is a simple quest plot, The Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night obviously want to take over the throne but there are a few other plotlines that are on a quest for power. Wonse (The secretary to the Patrician) had power; he could make commands and have them carried out and he quite enjoyed that. Now he has lost this power, he wants it back. The Patrician wishes to hold onto his power as the ruining king, ultimately his calm demeanour is what aids him through the tyranny.

One thing I thought was difficult about this book was the language; while this novel uses modern language there is a lot of in world slang that took a while to get used to. There was an incident where a character got intoxicated and the words started being misspelt for emphasises. This can be effective but you don’t find out this is due to his intoxication till you read through some of his gibberish. Sometimes the language can be effective like when Death speaks, he only uses capital letters and when the dragons are speaking they use italics. Overall it just took so much to get used to. If you are a reader of the Discworld series, this might not seem too difficult but for an outsider like me it really affected my enjoyment of this novel.

This novel wasn’t broken into chapters; it’s just three hundred plus pages of continuous story. I’m not really sure the reason behind this, but the only way the novel switches between the plot and subplot are paragraph breaks. I’m not saying it is necessarily a bad thing but when you want to put the book down, I think it makes it hard to find a decent stopping place.

I’ve been very vocal about my struggle to connect with fantasy novels; I discovered I do enjoy the urban fantasy/noir blends (The Dresden Files, Bobby Dollar series) so I thought maybe this would be similar. Sure this book was funny and some of the parodies worked really well but it missed any crime element to really work for me. To make a good fantasy/noir blended novel, I think it needs to be a lot darker, with some cynical elements; it doesn’t necessarily need a crime but a quest that will cause an inner struggle within the protagonist will help.

If someone has a suggestion for a decent fantasy novel with some noir elements to it, please let me know. Guards! Guards! is a very funny fantasy novel; this is the second Discworld novel I’ve read and while I did enjoy them, I felt like the both lacked something. I guess I much prefer darker stories; this is just light entertainment and sometimes you need that, but it’s not a series I plan to read in its entirety.