The city breathes.
Terry Pratchett once said that “I hope Ankh Morpork feels like a city that’s still there after you close the book,” and to that end he has wandered the damp alleyways of the horrible and wonderful city in over a dozen novels.
Ankh-Morpork is sustained by an endless sacrifice of the countryside, where farmers “live their whole lives for Ankh-Morpork without ever seeing the city.” The River Ankh is so polluted that, when you throw puppies in it to drown, they walk to the side. Fortunes are made on people’s piss and shit, when a special man sees that what the city lacks is sewers, and what it needs is people to make things smell better.
The people of the city began as petty-minded incarnations of everything bad in human nature (as seen in Guards, Guards!, the first Ankh-Morpork book). But as Terry warmed to humanity wised up to life, it became or fonder city. There’s a place for everyone in Ankh-Morpork, the kind and the nasty, the foolish and the brave. There’s the safety of the patriarchs, and the determined presence of no-nonsense matriarchs. The city is a little bit London, a little bit New York, and totally itself. Throw magic into the mix of that sort of city and, well, anything can and does happen.
The whole thing is presided over by the most efficient and potentially benevolent form of government: the despotism of Lord Vetinari. It’s kind of like if everyone in Game of Thrones gave up the power struggles and just let someone like Varys, Littlefinger, or Tywin Lannister get on with ruling a city. Vetinari is a pragmatic liberal (when it suits him), who has thrown open the doors of the city to anyone wishing to enter. He and Ankh-Morpork are so deeply linked, it is impossible to imagine one without the other.
In generations to come and long after contemporary readers are dead, when these novels surface on dusty library shelves in their battered, ugly sleeves, someone will pick up one of these books at random. And Ankh-Morpork will be there, with its thieves leaving receipts, its troll and werewolf watchmen (and women), its incremental gains in banking, postage, and sewage—and its people. Its horrible, nasty, drunken, amiable, kindly, suspicious, foolish, greedy, open, accepting, small-minded, pragmatic, stubborn