Title: Guards! Guards!
Author: Terry Pratchett
Publication Date: 1989
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery
For Carrot, life as a dwarf has been unusual. He needs to crouch through doors and he stands 6’6″, many feet taller than any dwarf he’s ever known. However, he had never considered it odd until his father reveals he was adopted and it is time he left the mines he has called home. As the son of a dwarf king, he is sent to join the city guards at Ankh-Morpork the most prestigious city in all the world. He eagerly agrees, unfortunately, it is not as grand a job as he had hoped. To survive Carrot must not only battle the cynical nature of Ankh-Morpork but also dragons, conspiracy, and his meager paycheck.
Guards! Guards! was the first of Pratchett’s books I ever read and it was eye-opening. The book itself follows a fairly normal plot, however, it features many plays on common fantasy tropes. Ankh-Morpork, the central city of the Discworld is rotten to the core instead of pristine like the cities of Gondor. Most of the dragons in the story are not the majestic creature that they have become in the rest of the fantasy genre. Even the humor relies far more on irony than any other book I’ve ever read. The irony is one of the strongest selling points of Pratchett’s writing and it continues to be a major strong point in Guards! Guards! In addition, the characters feel defined and different, all fitting a niche that is needed to make the book whole. Each character no matter how different also fit the almost goofy tone that Pratchett writes in, the tone that plays right into the irony. Before reading this book I had no clue this style could be pulled off effectively and if you’ve never read a fantasy book that utilizes irony to make the world feel real – or have just never read a Terry Pratchett book – then I would highly recommend Guards! Guards! to you.