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Guards! Guards!
Terry Pratchett, adapted by Stephen Briggs, illustrated by Graham Higgins
Victor Gollancz, 122 pages

Graham Higgins
Guards! Guards!
Terry Pratchett
Terry Pratchett lives in Somerset, England, where he spends all his time, and more, writing his rigorously naturalistic, curiously entertaining, shamelessly popular Discworld novels which have earned him extravagant acclaim and puzzled stares from millions of readers around the world.

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SF Site Review: The Discworld Assassins' Guild Yearbook and Diary 2000
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A review by Steven H Silver

Stephen Briggs has adapted many of Terry Pratchett's works to stage and map and now turns his attention to the graphic novel form. This rendition of Guards! Guards! is faithful to the plot of Pratchett's original novel, although some of the plotlines have been lost, while others are simplified in the process of adaptation. These alterations are not apparent, however, from simply reading the graphic novel. The reader would require knowledge of the original book to figure out where Briggs has performed his editing.

Briggs's partner in this procedure is illustrator Graham Higgins. The range of the illustrations vary from gritty to cartoonish, and although the mix does not always blend smoothly, neither does it destroy the continuity of the book. Readers who are already familiar with the representations of Discworld and its characters by John Kirby or Paul Kidby may be caught off-guard by Higgins's depictions of the same characters.

Pratchett does not write jokes, but rather situational humour -- a fact which is clear when reading this adaptation of Guards! Guards!

Although this is definitely a funny book, the only "jokes" that seem to exist are several humorous inclusions in the illustrations, which begin in the prologue and run throughout the book. Because these visual gags don't conflict with the written word, they serve to heighten the humorous effect of the book.

The plot of Guards! Guards! details the infliction of a dragon into Ankh-Morpork as a means of grabbing power by a secret brotherhood. At the same time, it introduces the members of the city night watch, a rag-tag collection made up of a drunken Captain Samuel Vimes, an overweight Sergeant Fred Colon, a barely human Nobby Nobbs and the newest recruit, the straight-arrow dwarf Corporal Carrot. While readers of the Discworld books will already know much more about these characters than is revealed in Guards! Guards!, Briggs focuses on the task of introducing the characters to the reader without allowing information from the later books to creep into this graphic novel.

The layout of Guards! Guards! also seems to have been done with non-graphic novel readers in mind. Many graphic novels include a surplus of broken frames which may confuse the new reader. Guards! Guards! is laid out in a straight-forward manner, allowing the reader to enjoy the artwork, plot and dialogue without worrying about the order in which it should all be read.

While it cannot serve as a replacement for the original novel on which it is based, Guards! Guards! is an excellent graphic version of Pratchett's story which will delight his fans and, perhaps, introduce new readers to the joys of the Discworld novels.

Copyright © 2001 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is one of the founders and judges for the Sidewise Award for Alternate History. He sits on concoms for Windycon, Chicon 2000 and Clavius in 2001 and is co-chair of Picnicon 1998. Steven will be serving as the Programming Chairman for Chicon 2000. In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is trying to get his short stories published and has recently finished his first novel. He lives at home with his wife and 3200 books. He is available for convention panels.

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