Monday, September 29, 2014

Small Gods (Terry Pratchett)

Small Gods
(A Discworld novel)
Terry Pratchett
Fiction, Fantasy
***** (Great)

DESCRIPTION: For three thousand years, the devotees of the Great God Om have built great temples in His honor and spread the wonder of His word... usually at the end of His swords, ending in the depths of His dungeons, under the merciful ministrations of His holy inquisitors. Seven great prophets, blessed to speak directly to Him, have added their words to the holy texts, and an eighth is due to arrive any day now. To prepare the path for his arrival, the exquisitor Vorbis labors mightily to cleanse the world of heretics - particularly those who worship false gods and speak lies about the shape of the Discworld. Such fools shall soon known the wrath of Om when He returns... assuming there is anything left of them beyond unsightly stains on His dungeon floors.
Novice Brutha has been called an idiot his whole life, and has no reason to doubt that he is, indeed, a fool. Despite an extraordinary memory and unparalleled observational skills, he cannot read or write even after years in Omnia, the great church-city at the heart of the Omnian religion. While tending the melon patches one day, he hears a small voice, claiming to be his god Om. But Om's statues are mighty and awe-inspiring, while this voice belongs to a lumbering one-eyed tortoise. Surely, this is one of the demons he has been warned about, come to tempt him to sin!
Om doesn't know what went wrong. He meant to come to Discworld as a mighty bull... only to wake in a tortoise's body, barely clinging to a vestige of godhood. Brutha's belief drew him like a moth to a flame. This isn't the prophet he would've picked, but it seems he has no choice - because even here, in the very heart of the church founded in his righteous honor, only Brutha truly believes in the great god Om. And a god who runs out of believers is a god on the brink of death.

REVIEW: Pratchett has a singular way of exploring profound topics with the silliest writing. Here, he delves into the thorny realms of religion, belief, gods, and mortality itself, not to mention the difference between factual truths and the "fundamental" truths on which so many institutions - human and divine - are built. The world and characters start out as simple, almost cartoonish sketches, but somehow grow into full-blooded people over the course of the tale. Nobody is infallible, not even a god, and there are plenty of lessons to go around. Between the frequent laughs are some serious examinations, offering no definitive answers. Given my lousy reading streak lately, this was an especially welcome story, one of those rare works that engages the mind on multiple levels. That success, plus several delicious quotes and one-liners, kicked it to the top of the ratings pile.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Sky Coyote (Kage Baker) - My Review
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents (Terry Pratchett) - My Review
The Amulet of Samarkand (Jonathan Stroud) - My Review

No comments:

Post a Comment