I'm baaaack! Just in time for the tail-end of Cannonball Read, Jr. Believe it or not, I've kept Balls Jr. in my heart, although I became thrown off the review-posting course by 1) "training for" and "running" a half-marathon, 2) my first real relationship (to nobody's surprise, he's almost 20 years older than I am), and 3) long work hours. Nothing could ever keep me from reading, though, and I finished my 51st book earlier today. There's no credit in this round without reviews, so I'm going to try to get to at least a few more before time runs out on Halloween. I'm halfway through my first real vacation since I started my job, so I'm considering this a giant sacrifice that everybody should appreciate, even though I picked a Discworld novel because they're easy.
Guards! Guards! begins with a group of dim, disenfranchised Discworld residents with petty grudges against the world at large, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork in medium, and dishonest meat-sellers in particular who have formed a magicky group under the manipulation of an unknown hooded figure. The goal? Bring dragons back. Not the small, unimpressive swamp dragons that are bred by the eccentric Lady Sybil Ramkin, but real, noble dragons that used to live back in the good old days. The dragon will then, in theory, replace the Patrician and get revenge on those meat-sellers and nagging wives and such that so plague the conjurers. Then an heir to the throne will come forward, slay the dragon, replace it as ruler, and be a benevolent dictator.
Gigantic, fire-breathing, magic-eating dragons, you might be shocked to learn, are not easily told what to do. When the group does manage to drag one back in existence, it proceeds to effectively wreak havoc and, after installing itself as the new ruler, requires donations of gold and virgins.
In come the policemen of the Night Watch, led uninspiringly by Captain Vimes, and grudgingly inspired by the new guy - naive, law-worshipping Carrot Ironfoundersson. Carrot turns the Watch around, forcing them to try to stop crime for the first time, and by crime, he means dragons. They muster up the best that their ragtag group can do, bring in the orangutan Librarian and Sybil Ramkin and her most pathetic swamp dragon to help out, and eventually they defeat the draco nobilis, with a game-saving assist from Errol, and unmask the anonymous hooded figure, with an assist from the Librarian.
I never knew Captain Vimes started out the series as an incompetent drunk, since my first experience with him was in Night Watch, and there he was a dogged pursuer of truth, justice, and the decidedly non-Ankh-Morporkian way. In that book, also, Vimes's wife Sybil was only alluded to, not shown, and seeing Sybil as a character and how she and Vimes met was hilarious. Sybil and Carrot are both great characters.
Overall a funny Discworld entry, but I'm going to have to repeat myself and say that nothing has remotely compared to the greatness of Small Gods.
****I read this book months ago and don't have it with me, so there is a vanishingly small chance that I got every detail correct. The overall gist is correct, though.****