Mark Reads ‘Guards! Guards!’: Part 2

In the second part of Guards! Guards!, Carrot heads for the Night Watch, and the Supreme Grand Master gets what he wants… sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Carrot

I feel like Carrot is the next in the line of a procession of Discworld characters who resemble one another. He’s part Twoflower, part Mort, part Teppic… it’s a motif that Pratchett likes to explore. We are often faced with a character who is naïve and “innocent” in terms of how experienced they are. I think Carrot is that to a T, which is why I’m so thankful that the dwarfs are a part of this. THEY MAKE HIS CHARACTER SO MUCH BETTER.

There’s just so much to like here, and I think the main reason I enjoyed this as much as I did is because it’s so nice. The dwarfs are so genuine in their love for their son (their adopted son, I should say) that it’s refreshing to see Pratchett not make a joke out of it. There’s certainly some toying with existing fantasy tropes going on here, particularly the idea of a human raised by a non-human species and being sent out into the world. But there’s a thoughtfulness to that approach. Carrot’s parents clearly adore their son and want the best for him, which in this case includes the chance for him to have human companions. Given that the dwarfs rarely interact with humans, I understood their reluctance to keep him around without ever addressing his actual origin.

And so Carrot’s father has to not only tell Carrot that he was adopted, but that he was found near a wagon burned out by bandits, who most likely killed his entire family. This isn’t done with any cruelty in mind, though I was fascinated by the little details about dwarf culture, such as courting or their expectations of gender. (A single pronoun to refer to all unnamed dwarfs in the third person! All of them have facial hair and GENDER IS MORE OR LESS OPTIONAL. THIS IS SO RAD.) In the end, these people want Carrot to have the best possible life, and they worry that staying in the mines forever will prevent that. Now, I was thankful that my parents told me I was adopted at a very young age. (It was also entirely necessary because there was absolutely no physical similarity and we were curious little shits; we would have figured it out very quickly.) But Carrot’s parent didn’t do this, so his reaction is… well, expected. A lot of denial. A quiet sadness. However, there’s this resilience within Carrot that I like, and I think it comes from the fact that he’s inherently a trusting person. That does worry me, of course, because Ankh-Morpork is not the sort of place for people like Carrot. Since he was raised by dwarfs, he’s got a literal-mindedness that isn’t very common where he’s going. He fiercely believes what he’s told because, aside from his adoption, he has never been lied to. Which means that this is going to be an interesting development:

Perhaps Varneshi should have recalled that, in the whole of Carrot’s life, no one had ever really lied to him or given him an instruction that he wasn’t meant to take quite literally. Carrot solemnly took the book. It would never have occurred to him, if he was going to be an officer of the Watch, to be less than a good one.

So what does that mean for Captain Vimes? I can’t imagine someone more opposed to everything that Carrot is than him. But I’m also curious to learn more about what the Night Watch actually is these days. There’s that disturbing moment where the guard at the gate to Ankh-Morpork asks Carrot what he did to be put in the Night Watch. OH NO, Y’ALL. Which… what the hell did Vimes do to be put there?

The Supreme Grand Master

Oh my god, this section has a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

“Right, fine, okay,” he said wearily. “If that’s how we’re going to do it, that’s how we’re going to do it. If we get a dragon six inches long we’ll all know the reason why. Won’t we, Brother Plasterer.”

WELL. WELL. NOW WE KNOW THE REASON FOR WHAT EVENTUALLY HAPPENS. The Grand Master’s impatience created an unexpected outcome.

The Dragon of Ankh-Morpork

It was a most unusual death. No one else had died like that for hundreds of years.

The stone wall behind him glowed cherry red with heat, which gradually faded into darkness.

He was the first to see the Ankh-Morpork dragon. He derived little comfort from knowing this, however, because he was dead.

HE BECAME A DRAGON. Holy shit, y’all, I don’t even know what to say about this! Obviously, this twist wasn’t even remotely on my radar, and I’m VERY INTERESTED to see how this is going to unfold. Where is the Grand Master’s body? Did only his consciousness travel to a dragon’s body? Did he literally turn into one? Can he turn back? Is he just going to burn the entire city to the ground in anger? WILL WE GET MORE CAMEOS WITH DEATH, BECAUSE YES PLEASE.

I honestly thought we wouldn’t see a dragon until much, much later. This is FANTASTIC.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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