Guards! Guards!| Terry Pratchet

On Expectations and fiction.

IN THIS POST I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THE END OF THE BOOK GUARDS! GUARDS! IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE END, THEN PLEASE HOLD OFF ON READING THIS POST UNTIL YOU HAVE READ – AND FINISHED THE BOOK.

The ending of the book is not how you’d expect it. I mean, that’s what everyone wants isn’t it? An ending expected isn’t as entertaining as one that contrasts to what we expect.

We expect that Carrot will be found to be the King and crowned as such.

We expect that the Ankh-Morpork Night Watch men will receive a substantial reward for their deeds and,

We expect that they expect that.

But here’s the thing. None of that happens. This book went down the wrong trouser leg of time and here we are. Carrot is in the Night Watch who receive a new kettle and a dartboard for their troubles. Upon request.

So why is it then that it defies expectations so much?

Well, my sister and I were talking about this not too long ago. and we came to the conclusion that we have come to expect the endings in fiction that we want in real life. We’d like to think that that old sword hanging above our mantle is the sword proving us to be king. And we’d like to think that the girl fainting in the street is very rich or very royal (hopefully we’d like to think both) because then we’d have justice. It’s like, you help the girl, you win a prize.

We want our lives to be that. Only of course they’re not. Like the aforementioned sister has put nicely in her blog: “Life isn’t fair. Who told us it ought to be?” I’m not going into that can of beans because that is irrelevant to the discussion. (Topic: Expectations in fiction) And as William Goldman has so kindly put in his book and adapted screen play: “Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” (The Princess Bride)

We’ve come to expect such fancies in fiction because they want to sell books. And you don’t sell books by having nobody end up together. Or the king not crowned or a dartboard as a thank you gift.

At least you didn’t.

Now it’s different. All books have the same ending and so books that subvert the ending are new and refreshing and more realistic – although we wouldn’t like to admit it too much.

Get Reading. Get Travelling.

Ash.

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