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Terry Pratchett – Small Gods

December 21, 2011

157. Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (1992)
Discworld, Book 13 (technically; it works just fine as a standalone)

Length: 358 pages
Genre: Fantasy Humor

Started: 26 November 2011
Finished: 01 December 2011

Where did it come from? LibraryThing’s Secret Santa program (last year. I’m so behind.)
Why do I have it? See above.
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 07 February 2011.

Lo, my God is a
cranky God, and also, he
be-eth a turtle.

Summary: Brutha is a uneducated novice in the Church of the Great God Om, without many ambitions (or deep thoughts, for that matter), and he is happy working in the gardens of the temple. One day, he hears a voice in his head – the voice of the Great God Om – and the voice says “Psst! Hey you!” For the Great God Om is currently in the form of a turtle – stuck in the form of a turtle, in fact – and he, like all gods, requires true belief in order to maintain his power… and substance. Brutha may be an unlikely prophet, but he’s what Om’s got to work with… but will a turtle and his believer really be enough to stop an incipient holy war?

Review: Terry Pratchett’s main premise in Small Gods – that gods are created by their believers, and not the other way around – is not a particularly new one, nor is his satirical take on organized religion particularly subtle. But man alive, does he take that premise and that satirical tone, and run to some damn funny places with it. Some of the running gags (everyone telling Brutha, upon seeing the turtle, “there’s good eating on one of those”) fell flat after a while, but others (Om’s thoroughly ineffectual attempts to call down damnation and smiting on everyone who annoyed him, which was pretty much everyone) made me chuckle every time. There’s also the usual complement of one-liners, which range from silly to quite sharply insightful, but always drily witty. The plot does meander a bit, and not all parts are always explained as thoroughly as they could be, or tie in as well as they should, but for the most part, things move along well enough, and the diversions are entertaining enough not to be too much of a detriment.

I haven’t read many of the Discworld books, and I thought Small Gods stood on its own just fine. I do know enough to appreciate the irony of Omnianism, the religion whose God is now stuck in the form of a turtle, considering Discworld to be round, and any mention of The Great Turtle to be the vilest heresy. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: Probably not for religious folks who either don’t see the foibles of their religion (or religion in general), or don’t like people poking fun at those foibles, but for everyone else, Small Gods is an irreverent look at the power of belief.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bookworm 1858, Kay’s Bookshelf, The Labyrinth Library, Puss Reboots, The Wertzone
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Now consider the tortoise and the eagle.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 21, 2011 11:41 am

    Hello Fyrefly,
    I also read “Small Gods” about a decade ago and did enjoy it; but I totally agree with your grade. :) I have also read “Pyramids” by Terry Prachett as well about 12 years ago. It’s another Discworld novel if you’re interested. I can’t tell you what it’s about because I forget, but I was going through an Egyptian theme phase and that’s pretty much why I read it in the first place. :)

    I must say that I really enjoy reading your blog. You have such an eclectic reading choice. I even “stole” your opening TBR pile count. Not your haikus – I’m not that poetic, but the part where you count what you read. :) I just substitute what I read! :)

    • December 26, 2011 12:35 pm

      Mareena – I’ve only dabbled in the Discworld books so far – there’s just so many – but for the most part I’ve really enjoyed them. I’m always looking for suggestions of which one to pick up next!

  2. December 21, 2011 4:42 pm

    That sounds intriguing! I bet my son would love it.

    • December 26, 2011 12:37 pm

      BermudaOnion – I know your son’s a fantasy fan; has he read much (any?) Pratchett? If not, I think this would be a great starting place, if it’s a topic that interests him.

  3. December 28, 2011 1:08 pm

    I really need to read more Pratchett!


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