Tim Goring's Reviews > Small Gods

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
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M_50x66
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Oct 01, 14

Read in August, 2009

My kids and I have discovered that Pratchett's Discworld books fall into several categories. The Night Watch books are invariably fascinating and entertaining. The books about wizards are somewhat amusing if they deal with the staff of Unseen University; those about Rincewind are not as much fun. The books about witches are an enjoyable read, better than Rincewind but not nearly as captivating as the Watch. And then there are the others, that have to do with miscellaneous features of Discworld: Reaper Man and Mort, about Death and his family; Hogfather, about Christmas-type mythology and featuring Deaths' granddaughter; Thief of Time; The Last Barbarian, about Cohen the Barbarian and his friends storming the bastion of the gods; Making Money and Going Postal, about the redevelopment of currency and the resurrection of the postal service; Monstrous Regiment, about a country at war with all its neighbors; Pyramids, about one of the countries; Soul Music and Moving Pictures, about the development of rock-and-roll and movies due to alternate universes bleeding into Discworld. (This is not a comprehensive list.)

Small Gods deals with religion. In Pratchett's Discworld, gods have form and power depending on the number and intensity of their believers. The most powerful gods have human or semihuman shape. The small gods may be small items or animals. The desert is inhabited by noncorporeal gods looking for believers to bring them to life.

The great god Om has been reduced to the form of a tortoise because, even though a whole nation venerates him (in the form of a bull), the brutality of the priests (including inquisitors and an exquisitor) has created a situation in which people go through the motions due to fear rather than belief. Om has one believer left, who eventually has a showdown with the exquisitor. In the process of righting wrongs, the hero moves from being a stupid and naive believer to an enlightened nonbeliever, transformed by his discovery of how the system works.
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