The first time I started reading this book, I didn’t get it. I gave up in disgust when I got to the point where the Librarian was an orangutan. Real fantasy wasn’t supposed to be absurd! It was supposed to have magic spells in it!
Only the efforts of many friends singing Terry Pratchett’s praises finally convinced me to pick it up again. Now I realize the guy is freaking brilliant. Discworld still doesn’t make a lot of sense, but the fantasy isn’t the point, it’s the characters.
Guards! Guards! is about guards. Those faceless people who get killed off in droves in your typical fantasy story while the readers yawn. Only these guards get names. Not only do they get names, but they get backstory, and character development, and a romantic subplot. They even get to save the day. Terry Pratchett focuses a lens on our foibles and some of the less admirable aspects of human nature. Ankh-Morpork doesn’t sound like a place I would like to live. And yet, while optimistic would be too strong a word, Guards! Guards! is eminently hopeful.
And who could resist going all fangirl all over Commander Vimes?