Length: 376 pages
Setting: Ankh-Morpork on Discworld
Summary: Short version: The Night’s Watch isn’t as useless as people think
Long version: Cotton is sent to Ankh-Morpork to become a member of the Night’s Watch. Because Cotton is a very large human, but because he was raised as a dwarf, he does everything by the book and literally interprets everything you say. Cotton doesn’t realize that the Night’s Watch is the lowest of the low. Their goal is to get through the night without dying. Things change a little when a dragon shows up and starts incinerating people. Captain Vimes, through an alcoholic haze, decides to do something about it. He enlists the help of Lady Ramkin, a noblewoman with an enthusiasm for raising swamp dragons. Things become a bit dicey when the dragon becomes king, but it all works out in the end.
Final thoughts: Now, this is more like the Discworld book I love. Laugh out loud human and phrases begging to be shared with my neighbor (whoever they might be) all wrapped around some biting social commentary. Don’t forget the tropes turned on their heads (virgin sacrifice, a hero come to slay the dragon, a one-in-a-million shot). The dragon is quite capable of creating peace in Ankh-Morpork and exacting tribute from its neighbors. It just requires that you sacrifice a virgin to it every month. People are willing to kill each other over trifles, but choosing a virgin sacrifice is a horror not to be born. And then there’s Cotton – he just wants to do good and follow the rules. The problem is, the public isn’t used to the Night Watch actually enforcing the rules. He even goes so far as to try to arrest the dragon.
While I love Terry Pratchett, there is often a distinct lack of female characters. There’s really only one of note in this book, but she is a true character. Lady Ramkin is awesome. She’s so rich, she no longer has to follow any social niceties. Therefore, she feels no guilt about spending all her time and effort in raising swamp dragons, who have a bad habit of eating everything in sight and randomly exploding when their plumbing doesn’t work correctly.
Title comes from: The phrase is used twice to call the guards
Reading challenges fulfilled: book #54 for 2018, #7 in my The Big Read Challenge, and #18 in my Finish the Series Challenge
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