I was going to say that Guards! Guards! was my first Pratchett read, but then I realised that this wasn’t quite right. My first Pratchett read was actually Good Omens, by Pratchett and Gaiman. I wasn’t as much of a fan of Good Omens, finding that co-written books are difficult to pull off in general (though exceptions, I’m sure, exist).
Guards! Guards!, then, was my first Discworld read. It wasn’t a long or a hard read (thankfully, I picked it up to escape the literary pretensions of Use of Weapons, by Banks). It was a funny read, for the most part. It’s a book that doesn’t take itself too seriously, peopled by characters who generally also have the sense not to take themselves too seriously (well, except for the villains, who are villains for a reason). It manages to poke fun at a wide variety of things (like, for example, guards). And of course, it is an intensely British book – it takes about three pages for this to become obvious – presumably because Pratchett himself is an intensely British person.
I can’t decide whether my favourite comic character in the book is the ape (or monkey, if you’re feeling brave) Librarian or Carrot the dwarf. Both have their merits, the Librarian being smarter (while having the most limited vocabulary) than all the other characters save Vetinari, and Carrot being more heroic and righteous (while having the least imagination) than probably the entire rest of Ankh-Morpork. Or if you frown on comic characters and prefer the straightforwardly evil ones (perhaps because you hate the world and all that is good in it), there’s always the dragon, the book’s secret hero, who was indeed delightfully evil, if somewhat redeemed by the twist at the end.
Verdict: Pleasant reading, if you want to while away a few evenings smirking at witticisms or just smirking in general.
I give this book: 4 out of 5 flying dragons