Book Review: Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett

Posted September 21, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Small Gods by Sir Terry Pratchett
Genres: Fantasy, Satire
on March 17, 2009
Pages: 347
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Strange things happen to nice people in Discworld. People like Brutha tending his melon patch. Then he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god and bossy as Hell.

Also by this author: I Shall Wear Midnight, The Light Fantastic, Sourcery, Mort, The Shepherd's Crown, Guards! Guards!, Moving Pictures, A Blink of the Screen, Reaper Man

Thirteenth in the Discworld satirical fantasy series and revolving around a world canvas against which Pratchett displays his brilliant sense of humor, poking fun at everything and anything. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Discworld books on my website.

My Take

The focus is on a cruel and dictatorial religion which has forgotten about worshipping its god and is intent on its own power. Hmmm, remind you of any religions in our own world??

It’s the corruption that power and knowledge visits on prelates. The truth about history and how she is written. The manipulation that goes on to ensure your plans for…anything.

“He had to watch a couple of battles and an assassination on the way, otherwise they would just have been random events.”

Pratchett pokes at the Catholic Church’s Inquisition, Muslim intolerance, points out Martin Luther’s reasons for his Ninety-Five Theses, politicians who plot out their attacks to get what they want, Russian slogans, biblical stories, a reference to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, and on and on with the religious poking.

It’s a slow process, very slow, but Om gradually comes to see others. It’s a fun turnabout with a god being paid back for his sins, lol.

Which is worse: “knowing without learning” or “learning without knowing”?

The scene with those unbelieving philosophers is way too funny, talking ’bout them “relics of an outmoded belief system” and then backtracking like mad, lol. As for the Tyrant’s approach to the peace treaty…oh, yeah, baby!

Yeah, that ending was sweet, a real revelation, even for Om.

It’s all about true belief. Not this lip service most pay. Hey, ho, The Turtle Moves.

The Story

It’s a cruel situation for the Great God Om. Embarrassing, really. He’s stuck and all that power he’s been accustomed to using…well, it simply isn’t there. He’ll get somebody for this!

The Characters

Brutha is a novice in the church with an eidetic memory who cannot read or write and is perfectly content, in his own slow mind, to hoe the melons. His grandmother was a HUGE believer.

Omnia is…
…a country ruled by its religion that believes it worships the Great God Om. Every few hundred years, a new Prophet appears (Ossory had been one of them) with his own commandments to add to the others. The church headquarters is known as the Citadel. The Place of Lamentation is where you offer up prayer and haven’t any money. The High Cenobiarch, a.k.a., the Superior Iam, leads the church. Then there are six Archpriests, thirty lesser Iams who are followed by bishops, deacons, subdeacons, priests, and then the novices. The Sept is their Bible with the commandments, some 500+.

The psychopathic Deacon Vorbis is head of the Quisition with its inquisitors and exquisitors, which will torture anyone for any reason. Deacon Cusp likes hurting people. Inquisitor First Class Ishamle “Pop” Quoom and the missus are grateful for the retirement gifts. Brother Sasho used to be Vorbis’ secretary.

Brother Nhumrod is a novice master and hot on the subject of demons and repeating the last words of your sentences. Brother Murduck has explained before about voices. Brother Preptil is the master of music and is pleased to excuse Brutha from attendance. Bishop Drunah is secretary to the Congress of Iams. Brother Whelk teaches Comparative Religion (I can only imagine what that is about). Brother Lu-Tze keeps in the background and silently works at soil, manure, muck, compost, loam, dust, and paths. Bishop “Deathwish” Treem. General Iam Fri’it runs the Divine Legion, no matter what anyone else believes officially. Sergeants Aktar, Simony, and Fergmen have their own plans. Private Dervi Ichlos might as well cancel any of his.

I think Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah, a purveyor of suspiciously new holy relics and other…things, is a relative of Cut-me-own-Throat Dibbler.

Ephebe is…
…a very bad country where their history is wrong; their religious worship is nothing like theirs, therefore wrong; and, and! they have ideas! And philosophers are practically worshipped for themselves. It’s those ideas they have. Legibus, Xeno, Ibid, and Declivities are some of the successful philosophers. Didactylos is less successful and blends all three philosophical schools: Cynics, Stoics, and Epicureans; Urn is his nephew who’s apprenticing.

The Tyrant is the ruler of Ephebe and is elected by the people after having made all sorts of promises which, upon being elected, he promptly reneges on. Hmmm, makin’ you think of anything else happening in America??? Aristocrates is the Tyrant’s secretary.

“‘What do philosophers look like?’ said Brutha.

‘They do a lot of thinking,’ said Om. ‘Look for someone with a strained expression.’

‘That might just mean constipation.’

‘Well, so long as they’re philosophical about it…'”

St. Ungulant (its his initials — Sevrian Thaddeus Ungulant) is an anchorite in the desert with his “friend”, a small god named Angus. Uh-huhhh…

Other countries at risk include…
Djel, Tsort, Djelibeybi, the country of pyramids and gods with funny heads, the city of Ankh-Morpork where gods are worshipped if they have money, Istanzia, Betrek, and Ushistan. It will be an alliance where General Argavisti of Ephebe thinks he’s in charge whereas Imperiator Borvorius of Tsort knows he is while Admiral Rham-ap-Efan of Djelibeybi knows he is, hmph. Fatas Benj is a fisherman from a tiny country of marsh-dwelling nomads who got swept up.

In charge of ensuring history proceeds correctly are…
…the history monks in the high Ramtops of Discworld. The 493rd Abbot. Lu-Tze is one of the most senior monks with a mission.

Some of the other gods in or around Ephebe include the Queen of the Sea with her terrible price; Tuvelpit is the God of Wine in Ephebe (they call him Smimto in Tsort); Astoria is the Goddess of Love; Offler is the Crocodile God; Petulia is the Goddess of Negotiable Affection *grinning*; Blind Io is a Thunder God; Cubal the Fire God; Fedecks the Messenger of the Gods; Flatulus the God of the Winds; Foorgol the God of Avalanches; Patina is the Goddess of Wisdom, penguin and all; and, P’Tang-P’Tang is Fasta Benj’s god.

The Librarian at Unseen University in Ankh-Morpork was a wizard who got turned into an orang-utan, and he knows everything about getting around in the library…and between libraries. A very focused eagle.

DEATH is always waiting.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a bright orange background with the author’s name and the title in white with black, giving it a slightly three-dimensional effect. In the center is Great A’Tuin, the turtle which swims through space carrying the Discworld on its back. The black border on the left is a tumbling series of thunderclouds spewing lightning…in honor of those Small Gods who exist everywhere.

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