A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about one of Discworld’s most frequent recurring characters, Death. This week, let’s look at my favorite group of regulars, the City Guard of Ankh-Morpork. There are eight books focused on this group of rather hapless police officers, and they’re the one subseries I’ve read all the way through (but completely out of order).
The City Guard are led by Sam Vimes, the relatively sane focus point in the middle of some very odd characters. I think Vimes is what makes these my favorite set of books. Besides being an awesome character, he’s the straight man who makes the comedians even funnier. Vimes is a world-weary police officer with a cynical streak a mile wide, who nevertheless believes in honor and justice and above all, the rule of law. He’s uncorruptable while completely practical about the corrupt city he guards. He undergoes more evolution than most Discworld characters, and even though I read him all out of order it’s interesting to see his character grow through the books.
Vime’s righthand man is Corporal Carrot, biologically a six-foot human and culturally a dwarf (it’s complicated). He’s simple, but not stupid. He also believes in honor and honesty, but unlike Vimes, he believes everyone else is honorable and honest too. The funny thing is, around Carrot, they are.
Sargeant Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs typically appear together. Colon always knows the best place for a drink or a smoke, and the best ways to avoid any and all trouble. Nobby has to carry around a card to verify that he’s human; descriptions are vague, but I picture him short, skinny, pimply and hairy. He’s convinced of his own vast wisdom and sophistication, and is a guardsman who is nevertheless addicted to petty theft.
There are a few women on the force: Cheery Littlebottom is a dwarf who breaks dwarfish taboos by openly admitting to being female, and Angua is a brilliant fighter and tracker, largely because she’s a werewolf.
There are some other regulars among the guards, but those are my favorites. They’re a motley and very funny crew, who generally manage to pull success out of chaos. Guards! Guards! is the first in the subseries, and Jingo, Night Watch and Thud! are among my favorites. But really, they’re all good, and you can probably just grab any you like. It’s Discworld–you’ll figure things out.