Small Gods: A Novel of Discworld
1 journaler for this copy...
Since first discovering Discworld years ago via the raves of assorted BCers, I've been happily learning about the City Watch, Death and his family, and the Wizards of Unseen University, and have enjoyed them all. This book was something of a switch, though; its setting is a time and place far removed from most of the settings of the other books, and about the only crossover characters are Death (of course) and a few of the gods. [Oh, and a clone of C.M.O.T. Dibbler, called "Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah" - I gather that some things are constant everywhere you go...] The story's more philosophical as well, dealing with - in addition to philosophy - the nature of gods, faith, and righteousness.
Somehow, Pratchett finds humor in the midst of all this higher thought (plus a very nasty Inquisition and a war or two). The Great God Om, currently embodied as a tortoise, finds he must rely on a naive, slow, earnest young novice named Brutha, the only person who sincerely believes in him (though even Brutha has trouble accepting the tortoise shape; Om's always depicted as something huge and powerful, usually with horns). From the introduction of the tortoise-god when an eagle drops him at Brutha's feet [watch for the ongoing tortoise-eagle confrontations; the climax is a dilly], through the journey to Ephebe [think ancient Greece] and the growing realization that much of what he's been taught isn't true, through a death-march in an arid desert, to the final conflict back in Omnia, Brutha learns, grows, changes - and argues with Om - until he's someone who might change the course of history...
There were some wonderfully funny bits in this one, and some very moving ones as well - and more than a few nasty, scary bits too. [And I got positively teary at the end.] I'd feared that I wouldn't like the story as much without most of the well-known characters from the other books, but "Small Gods" turns out to be among my favorites - although at this point a "favorite Discworld book" is liable to be described as "in my top twenty-however-many-there-are"!
There are many, many quotable bits in the book, but I'll stick to just this one:
"His [Dydactylos the philosopher's] philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools - the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans - and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink.'"
Oh, and check out the TV Tropes page for the book - entertaining and informative, but do beware of spoilers!
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