Mark Reads ‘Guards! Guards!’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Guards! Guards!, Vimes tries to take more initiative to unravel the mystery of the dragon. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld

Oh, there are so many variables at play right now, and that means I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS IS GOING TO TURN OUT.

The Brethren

Initially, I thought that Brother Fingers would play a large part in this section. He was the sole surviving connection to the Brethren aside from the Supreme Grand Master, and he was the perfect way for Vimes and the others to discover what was actually happening in Ankh-Morpork. But his use here is brief – understandably so – and I imagine we won’t see him again unless he manages to find the Supreme Grand Master. (Where is he, by the way? Was he the robed figure who scurried off?) But Vimes, his “detectoring” skills at a high, figures out what he needs for the moment:

“Oh, I know him, sir,” he said. “Bengy ‘Lightfoot’ boggis, sir. He’s a capo de monty in the Thieves’ Guild. I know him of old, sir. Sly little bugger. Used to work at the University.”

“What, as a wizard?” said Vimes.

“Odd job man, sir. Gardening and carpentry and that.”

“Oh. Did he?”

Vimes puts two-and-two together: Brother Fingers must have been the one who stole the book on summoning dragons. With progress made on this case, Vimes gets ambitious and realizes he might have another group who’ll be on his side.

Lupine Wonse

Really, it was a great idea, so I don’t fault Vimes for the way that this fell apart so spectacularly. Realizing that Carrot’s lack of imagination is a perfect weapon, Vimes heads to the Patrician’s – er, the King’s Palace to appeal to the Patrician’s assistant, Lupine Wonse, who surely isn’t pleased with recent developments. But before they can get there, they have to make it through the palace guard:

They were rough. They were tough. They weren’t the sweepings off the gutter, they were what you still found sticking to the gutter when the gutter sweepers had given up in exhaustion. They had been extremely well-paid by the Patrician, and presumably were extremely well-paid by someone else now, because when Vimes walked up to the gates a couple of them stopped lounging against the walls and straightened up while still maintaining just the right amount of psychological slouch to cause maximum offense.

So how is Vimes, Captain of the most despised and most ignored security force in Ankh-Morpork, supposed to get past them?

WITH THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOLUTION KNOWN TO HUMANITY.

There are times when it is veritable pleasure to drop the bomb right away.

“Lance-constable Carrot, I want you to charge these men,” said Vimes.

Well, it became the most beautiful solution known to humanity after Carrot returned. I found it hilarious that Vimes finally gives Carrot the command he’s been waiting for since the second he arrived in Ankh-Morpork, and then Carrot RUNS IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. Why? Why would he possibly run away?

There was a long, terrifying ululation. Vimes was amazed to realize it wasn’t coming from him.

Carrot appeared around the corner at a dead run. He had a felling ax in either hand.

I love Carrot. I love him so much.

Unfortunately, even though Vimes makes it into Wonse’s office, Wonse’s reaction to the news that the dragon has returned is not quite what he expects, at least at first. And truthfully, I was convinced that Wonse would leap upon any opportunity to get rid of his long list of things that needed to be done. However, I miscalculated my perception of him. Wonse doesn’t respect Vimes, and even if he was annoyed by the new king (and the king’s advisor, since I imagine that the Grand Master has already infiltrated the palace), that didn’t mean he was ready to listen to Vimes. Vimes is still the Captain of the Watch. He hasn’t elevated in position or standing, and it’s much easier for Wonse to dismiss him.

IT’S SO SAD. I just want Vimes to be respected!

L-Space

TIME TRAVELING THROUGH L-SPACE. THE LIBRARIAN ENTERED L-SPACE TO END UP A WEEK BEFORE THE DRAGON BOOK GOT STOLEN. I LOVE THIS DEARLY.

Waiting

As relentless as the last few sections have been, Pratchett settles down in the final part of this section of the book, and it’s unnerving. We know the dragon isn’t gone, and now, Vimes’s instinct tells him it’s not gone, either. So Pratchett uses this mystery to build dread. What will the dragon do next? Will it take more lives because no one else will believe it’s still around? The entire city is preparing for the coronation, and it’s probably the perfect moment to strike. The dragon is going to know precisely who sent it packing. And I mean both the king and the Supreme Grand Master in this case. There’s a lot of potential for disaster here, but not just in terms of violence. I’m beginning to understand Vimes’ distaste for the city’s behavior better than I thought I did, and the scene with Sham Harga is a great example of that. Without knowing anything about the king, Ankh-Morporkians are changing their behavior and their traditions, all because the king might interact with them.

On the surface, it’s an absurd thing to witness. Harga cleaning the old fat out of a frying pan is also a weird thing to complain about, but in the context of what’s happening to the city, I get it. Harga’s reasoning for changing something that makes his food particular and unique is based on their adoration for someone he doesn’t even know. Worse, Vimes knows they’ve all been conned, and NO ONE ELSE DOES.

So how is he going to unravel this?

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

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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