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Old 07-27-2009, 01:24 PM
Little Plastic Ninja is offline
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Land-Under-Wave
Posts: 2,620
The Terry Pratchett book "Guards! Guards!". If you haven't read it, spoilers below...

I realized after about six million reads and listens to the audiobook that the story is a huge circle from the beginning where Sam Vimes lies in the gutter musing on the city:

'The city wasa, wasa, wasa, wossname. Thing. Woman. That's what it was. Woman. Roaring, ancient, centuries old. Strung you along, let you fall in thingy, love, then kicked you inna, inna, thingy. Thingy, in your mouth. Tongue. Tonsils. Teeth. That's what it, she, did. She wasa . . . thing, you know, lady dog. Puppy. Hen. Bitch. And then you hated her and, and just when you thought you'd got her, it, out of your whatever, then she opened her great booming rotten heart to you, caught you off bal, bal, bal, thing. Ance. Yeah. Thassit. Never knew where where you stood. Lay. Only one thing you were sure of, you couldn't let her go. Because, because she was yours, all you had, even in her gutters . . .'
He loves the city, as much as it hurts him to. At the end, when he begins to realize he has some feelings beginning for Lady Sybil, the story comes full circle:

And then it arose and struck Vimes that, in her own special category, she quite beautiful; this was the category of all the women, in his entire life, who had ever thought he worth smiling at. She couldn't do worse, but then, he couldn't do better. So maybe it balanced out. She wasn't getting any younger but then, who was? And she had style and money and common sense and self-assurance and all the things he didn't, and she had opened her heart, and if you let her she could engulf you; the woman was a city.

And eventually, under siege, you did what Ankh-Morpork had always done - unbar the gates, let the conquerors in and make them your own.
He's fallen in love with someone he has been in love with for years: the fact that Sybil owns a large portion of the city is important to this. She is the city. She is everything he loves about it: proud, strong, noble, and welcoming. It is because of her that he pulls himself out of the gutters and tries to make himself better than what he was -- the worst of the city, drunk and decaying and stinking. Through the city that brought him down, he is uplifted and given the opportunity to reach his potential.

For being something of a silly story about dragons, it's also an amazing book about the redemption of human nature.