John Kirk's Reviews > Pyramids

Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
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's review
Apr 02, 2015

really liked it
bookshelves: discworld
Read in June, 2010

I first read this at school: I borrowed it from the library just before the summer holiday, and read it three times before I returned it. Later on I bought my own copy, and I think it's one of the best Discworld novels, although I've now read it so many times that I don't get as much enjoyment out of it as I used to. Mind you, it took me 12 years to understand a physics reference that had gone over my head before ("the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram"), so I can sometimes get new stuff out of a familiar text.

There's a good story, with the action-packed climax that Pratchett has moved away from in his later books. (Key lines: "The speed of night" in Mort, and "How about once?" in Pyramids.) I first read this after I'd been studying philosophy at school, and the "axiom testing range" is a very clever idea, although you need to be familiar with Zeno's paradoxes to properly appreciate it. I think the funniest line was: "The trouble with you, Ibid, is that you think you're the biggest bloody authority on everything!"

(Explanation for non-academics: if you quote reference books in footnotes, it gets a bit tedious to keep repeating the same title several times, so "ibid" basically means "ditto", i.e. the same book as before but a different page. That means you'll get lots of references like "Ibid, p79", which suggest that a particular person knows about several different topics. It's less common nowadays, with computer generated bibliographies, but it made sense in the 1980s when this book was written.)

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