You know how sometimes reviews describe a book as “laugh-out-loud” funny, but they are usually not? At most they produce a snigger or two. Producing genuine laughter is a gift most books lack. Well, I’ve found a “laugh-out-loud” book. It had me ROLLING. It’s “Guards! Guards!” by Terry Pratchett. It’s the most hilarious Discworld book I’ve (re)read, and that’s saying something, because almost ALL of his books do make you laugh out loud at some point.
But this one had me guffawing every few pages. It’s the first of the Discworld books to feature the City Watch, and we are introduced to Captain Vimes, the depressed and alcoholic leader, and his troops, Sargent Colon, twisty Corp. Nobbs and the shiny enthusiastic new recruit, Carrot – a six-and-a-half footer who was brought up by dwarfs and has come to the city to become a man.
Why does Vimes drink? According to Sargent Colon, he was ‘Brung Low” by a woman. Actually, Vimes drinks to stave off sobriety, because when he is sober, he gets depressed. Things are looking up, though. Vimes is going to meet a certain lady – a dragon breeder – and romance, of a sort, will bloom. There will also be exploding dragons, secret brotherhoods, the physics of L-space (L for Library) and the usual mad climax to save the city of Ankh-Morpork from horror and destruction. In this case, the horror is an enormous dragon king who demands a virgin sacrifice once a month. Not because it needs to eat humans, but more, you know, for the look of the thing.
To someone who has never read the Discworld, this book is as good a place as any for an intro to the series. Not all the later books – and there are forty in all – are as downright funny as this one. Thoroughly, heartily recommended, especially if you (like Vimes) are down in the dumps.