Mark Reads ‘Guards! Guards!’: Part 6

In the sixth part of Guards! Guards!, DRAGON PUPPIES DRAGON PUPPIES DRAGON PUPPIES. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

Done. I am done. I am done forever. THERE CANNOT BE A GREATER MOMENT THAN THIS ONE IN THE REMAINDER OF THE DISCWORLD.

People in Scoone Avenue had old money, which was supposed to be much better than new money, although Captain Vimes had never had enough of either to spot the difference.

LOOK, I WAS ALREADY INTO THIS SECTION BASED ON THIS SENTENCE ALONE. I do know what “old money” actually implies, but holy shit, this is TOO REAL. Old money or new money, just give some of it to me.

“I can’t leave the office,” said Carrot. “I’ve had Orders.”

The Librarian’s upper lip rolled back like a blind.

“Is that a smile?” said Carrot. The Librarian shook his head.

I just wasn’t ever prepared for these two characters to meet. I assumed that since Vimes found the Librarian’s peanut shells in the last section, that meant that the two would eventually cross paths. But it’s so much funnier that Carrot has to communicate with the Librarian, particularly because of that one scene that I’ll talk about at the end of this.

“If we bought a bottle or two, we could go home and then we’d be really inconspicuous.”

Nobby gave this some thought.

“But he said we’ve got to keep our ears open,” he said. “We’re supposed to, what he said, detect anything.”

“We can do that at my house,” said Sgt. Colon. “We could listen all night, really hard.”

The most beautiful part about this is that technically, this is the best way to be inconspicuous within Ankh-Morpork. Right? I mean, the joke here is that these two are so used to taking the laziest way out of anything that they can beautifully interpret their orders as a call to get drunk at home. Of course, none of this goes as they planned because DRAGONS. DRAGONS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER, including a scene where two characters are peeing in an alley.

Y’all, I can’t believe this is happening now. I expected the characters the finally see the Supreme Grand Master’s dragon much further into the book, but with this reveal happening so early, I’M NERVOUS. Where else is this book going to go???

She also had a dragon on her shoulder. It had been introduced as Talonthrust Vincent Wonderkind of Quirm, referred to as Vinny, and seemed to be making a large contribution to the unusual chemical smell that pervaded the house.

WELL, I SUDDENLY WANT A THOUSAND OF THEM, SMELLS BE DAMNED! That name. That name.

“Oh, take no notice of him,” she said cheerfully. “Hit him with a cushion if he’s a bother.”

A small elderly dragon had crawled out from under his chair and placed its jowly muzzle in Vimes’s lap. It stared up at him soulfully with big brown eyes and gently dribbled something quite corrosive, by the feel of it, over his knees. And it stank like the ring around an acid bath.

I wasn’t fucking ready for this. I was not.

“That’s Dewdrop Mabelline Talonthrust the First,” said her ladyship. “Champion and sire of champions. No fire left now, poor soppy old thing. He likes his belly rubbed.”

I want a thousand of this particular dragon. A literal thousand of them, I don’t care.

Vimes made surreptitiously vicious jerking motions to dislodge the old dragon. It blinked mournfully at him with rheumy eyes and rolled back the corner of its mouth, exposing a picket fence of soot-blackened teeth.

This does not make me change my mind about dragon puppies. I still want a thousand of them.

“…Gayheart Talonthurst of Ankh…”

Y E S

“… a group of swamp dragons was a slump or an embarrassment…

There is not an atom of my body that does not require AN EMBARRASSMENT OF SWAMP DRAGON PUPPIES. THERE ARE FEW THINGS I HAVE EVER WANTED MORE.

“And this one, I’m afraid, is Goodboy Bindle Featherstone of Quirm,” said Lady Ramkin relentlessly.

Vimes stared groggily over the charred barrier at the small creature curled up in the middle of the floor. It bore about the same resemblance to the rest of them as Nobby did to the average human being. Something in its ancestry had given it a pair of eyebrows that were about the same size as its stubby wings, which could never have supported it in the air. It’s heard was the wrong shape, like an anteater. It had nostrils like jet intakes. If it ever managed to get airborne the things would have the drag of twin parachutes.

I’d like to add a thousand Goodboy Bindle Featherstones to my order, please, and yes, I’m ready to checkout now.

The little dragon turned on Vimes a gaze that would be guaranteed to win it the award for Dragon the Judges would Most Like to Take Home and Use as A Portable Gas Lighter.

Yes, good, please continue.

Total whittle, Vimes thought. He wasn’t sure of the precise meaning of the word, but he could hazard a shrewd guess. It sounded like whatever it was you had left when you had extracted everything of any value whatsoever. Like the Watch, he thought. Total whittles, every one of them. And just like him. It was the saga of his life.

Oh.

ronhurt

OH.

This is not the first time that Pratchett has reminded us of Vimes’s outlook on his life, but christ, this one knocked me flat. In one instant, Vimes looks at this rejected swamp dragon and sees himself in it, and it’s not funny, and I am so desperate to find out how he ended up this way, and WHY MUST YOU HURT ME, TERRY PRATCHETT.

I am still in awe, though, over what he does next.

And then they realized.

It was suddenly very quiet.

All along the rows of kennels, the dragons were silent, bright-eyed and watchful. They were staring at the roof.

Here’s the thing: the last section set up a clear conflict between the Patrician and Vimes. Vimes was expected to obey and cover up any sign of the dragon, but chose to investigate the evidence. So I believed that both the Patrician and Vimes would conduct their own investigations while hiding their findings from one another. That’s a sizable conflict, one that could last a hundred pages, and then BAM, 15 pages later, Vimes sees the dragon. END OF INVESTIGATION BECAUSE HE ALREADY KNOWS IT IS REAL AND BURNING HIS CITY TO THE GROUND. Yes, he still needs to find out why, but this is not at all what I was anticipating.

And goddamn, it’s great.

So is the extended charade sequence between the Librarian and Carrot. It’s so delightfully silly (and was a blast to read aloud), and yet it’s about a very serious issue. Like, they’ve already got so many pieces to the mystery! Carrot will inevitably figure out that someone stole a book about summoning dragons, and the other three members of the Watch have seen the damned thing. There’s no denying it anymore. So what is the conflict going to morph into? Y’all, I feel so unprepared!!!!

The original text contains use of the word “crazed.”

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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