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5.0 out of 5 stars Let there be lettuce! Let there be slices of melon!
In Small Gods, the thirteenth novel of the Discworld, Terry Pratchett gets philosophical, religious, and existential on us, delivering a remarkably insightful look at man and his relationship (or lack thereof) with the gods. There are gods everywhere on the Discworld - you can't swing a simian librarian without hitting one - except, of course, only a few people can see...
Published on July 6 2006 by Daniel Jolley
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
Small Gods is not Terry Pratchett's best book by a long shot, but it's still a great parody on religion and... well... the meaning of life?
Who else but Pratchett could write "The Great God Om waxed wroth, or at least made a spirited attempt... He silently cursed a beetle, which is like pouring water onto a pond. It didn't seem to make any difference anyway. The...
Published on July 17 2001 by F. G. Hamer
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)Small Gods is not Terry Pratchett's best book by a long shot, but it's still a great parody on religion and... well... the meaning of life?
Who else but Pratchett could write "The Great God Om waxed wroth, or at least made a spirited attempt... He silently cursed a beetle, which is like pouring water onto a pond. It didn't seem to make any difference anyway. The beetle plodded away. He cursed a melon unto the eighth generation, but nothing happened. He tried a plague of boils. The melon just sat there, ripening slightly."
Some classic Pratchett lines but a somewhat weak ending. Don't miss it, though. It's still worth a few hundred smiles.
5.0 out of 5 stars For Sale: One Slight Worn Out, But Still Usable Divinity,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)Imagine, if you will, that you are a big time god, with millions of worshippers, big temples, and all the trappings. That you can incarnate as an impressive ram or a magnificent white swan and that you have all the standard godlike powers. Then, one day, you close your eyes for just a seconds and, suddenly, you found it's years later and you are a small turtle being carried 200 feet in the air by a hungry eagle. An eagle who fully intends to drop you in order to crack your shell. Fortunately the eagle miscalculates and instead of dead, you wind up face down in a compost heap. Such was the fate of The Great God Om.
Or, imagine that you are a temple novice. Not a particularly bright novice, but well behaved. You have a fantastic memory, but are a little short on what it takes to understand how the squiggly markings on the scroll can be words and ideas. You're nice, even tempered, and have a bit of a weight problem. While you will probably be a novice forever, you like novicey tasks like turning the compost heap and tending the garden. Or you did until a crazy, one-eyed turtle walked out of the grass and said, 'Hey, you!' Such was the fate of Brutha.
So begins Terry Pratchett's marvelously witty attack on organized religion, spiritual snobbery, philosophers, and bad people in general. For, with all those people worshipping Om, only one person really believed in him. You guessed it, Brutha the novice. You see, gods need people who believe in them, or they kind of dry up and disappear into the desert with all the other small gods. Om sees the handwriting on the wall. In order to stay in business he will heed to enlist Brutha, push him into action, and completely rework Omnianism. No simple task for a god whose current lightning bolt will barely singe an eyebrow.
To make matters worse, our hapless duo must deal with Deacon Vorbis, head of the Omnian Quisition. All of the Omnian Church's inquisitors take their orders from Vorbis, who was more or less the opposite of Brutha. He is very smart, quite thin, and not very nice at all. The kind of person who turns turtles upside down in the sun to see how long it takes them to die. Vorbis is a strict follower of the Omnian church and intends to be its next prophet. He is not about to let a holy turtle and a chubby novice get in the way. Instead he intends to use Brutha's eidetic memory to aid in the invasion of the city Ephebe, which is full of philosophers, gods, and is not very cooperative at all.
In Pratchett's hand the struggles of Om and Brutha are the basic material for a funny and insightful look at the difference between worship and belief. Pratchett has little toleration for dogma, unquestioning belief, or the abuse of religious power. But he is never unkind, simply honest, and it is clear that he writes from a strong ethical sense. He is to be admired for undertaking what is usually a difficult subject and bringing his points home with considerable consideration and love. If you're looking for a diatribe you won't find it here. If what you want is a bit of insight and a lot of snorts and chuckles, "Small Gods" is just the book for you.
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise!,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)"Small Gods" came to land on my window sill after fluttering in the wind for what appeared to be ages; even though I knew it would eventually flutter somewhere nearby, it came as a pleasant, somewhat unexpected surprise.
Being my first Terry Pratchett novel, I didn't really know what to expect other than a number of sardonic comments on religion and its place in society. Prior to reading it, I thought it would take on the tone of a polemic: unrelenting and pretentious at heart; so I didn't necessarily rush out greet it. The great thing that I discovered afterwards, however, is that Terry Pratchett novels are so lighthearted in tone that they will make even the biggest cynic crack a smile.
The inherent message of the story is simple: as ridiculous as everything associated with a particular god may be, there is certainly no doubt in the fact that we cannot live without them. The book makes a conscious effort to let us feel how faith draws out the best, and sometimes the worst, in us, and through the story's protagonist, Brutha, professes that the best way to believe is by what you know lies deep inside you.
If you're wary of being offended, don't fret. Pratchett treats the matter with the respect it deserves, as long as you're not too big on organized religion. Give it a try; it just might inspire you to think a little intrinsically as opposed to simply going along with the waves.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)Brutha is an unlikely choice when a Great God is choosing a prophet... but a battered tortoise is an unlikely form for a god to be stuck in. Brutha, a novice at the temple of the Great God Om, goes on a journey (both metaphorical and literal). He is chosen by Vorbis (who is not EXACTLY evil), for his most unusual talent, to travel to the 'evil' city of Ephebes inhabited by 'polytheistic heathens'. He meets, among other characters, strange men who devote their lives to not being sure about anything: philosphers. Brutha serves his god in various ways (finding tasty lettuce leaves in particular). He must learn to think like a god and rekindle the belief in Om before it is too late and Om winds up... where the Small Gods go.
A hilarious book and excellent parody. Terry Pratchett has done it again. Where gods get their power from? And what happens to a god when he loses his power and can no longer smite anyone? Read this book to find out. Also read this book if you want insight into the nature of religious belief along with hours of laughs (provided you don't take it TOO seriously).
5.0 out of 5 stars The clearest mirror of all,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)In this era of triumphant religious fundamentalism, Small Gods is a pretty dangerous item to be seen carrying. Terry Pratchett, carrying a reputation of being a major force in writing fantasy and humour has shed both in this penetrating book. It's an incisive satire of the mores and methods of the three major religions of Western Civilization. Pratchett's astute axiom that the Discworld is a "mirror of worlds" applies with more force here than any other Discworld book. Pratchett casts away whatever subtle restraint he's given other philosophical issues to directly confront us with a harsh truth about faiths.
The basic theme is a simple, but rarely recognized, truth. Gods are created by people. The fewer the believers, the smaller and weaker the god. When belief fades or believers eliminated, the gods cease to exist. Once mighty, the god Om has been relegated to the body of a tortoise. He retains but one true believer: Brutha, a novice in the Citadel of Om. Brutha makes frequent reference to segments of the "holy book" Om supposedly authored. Mystified by attribution to himself of these writings, Om wonders who really wrote them. And why they were written. What has been perpetrated in His Name?
Brutha, who has a photographic memory, is conscripted into a religious crusade against neighbouring Ephebe. The Omnian Church wants to erase Ephebe's false belief that the world is a disc riding on the backs of four elephants standing on a turtle swimming through space. According to Vorbis, head of the Quisition, such false doctrine must be erased, erasing the Ephebians in the process, if necessary. Besides, Ephebe's on the best trade route to the Turnwise coast. Tucked away in Brutha's pocket, Om is taken along. But how does Vorbis expect to conquer mighty Ephebe, home of philosopher kings, with a token force of fifty soldiers?
Pratchett is as direct as Vorbis is devious. There's an old saying that runs "I'm not a bigot, I hate everybody". Vorbis doesn't hate anybody, just those following false doctrines. Nor does Pratchett hate anyone, but his scathing wit in this book leaves few untouched . There are some light passages, but this book is deadly serious. It's not small gods, but small minds that Pratchett targets and he hits the mark unerringly [He's nearly prescient about Christian reaction to J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter books]. Pratchett holds the mirror before us to consider our beliefs. What do we have faith in, and what sustains that faith?. If it proves false, how do we respond? What an experience it would be to visit Pratchett when one of the evangelicals arrives at the door! If he's as verbally devastating as he is with the printed word, there'd only be a smudge on the doormat.
5.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett steps out of humorous fantasy and into satire,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)People look at me funny when I compare Pratchett to Jonothan Swift or Kurt Vonnegut, but I hold my ground and I point to this book as his satirical masterwork. While Moving Pictures was his first attemt on dedicating a book to satirizing something about our society, Small Gods is his best and led to such stand out satires like Interesting Times, Jingo, Men at Arms, and Hogfather. This book more than the others, I feel, tries to say something serious about its subject matter, that being religion, faith and God. Reading this book influenced the way I look at religion today. Many of my peers (I'm 19) who wish to be rebellious like to make fun of people who believe in god, criticize the Bible because it contradicts itself, and point to violence caused because of religious differences as the reason why faith and belief in religion is a bad thing. What Pratchett says in this book is that faith is what you make of it, orthodox thinking is a stranglehold on belief, and that evil men use religion for evil purposes, not the other way around. It is a very lighthearted book with serious undertones, and I can hardly see how anyone could be offended by it, unless they have a stick up their rears about their particular religion and how it is the one true faith.
4.0 out of 5 stars Really great - standalone Discworld,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)If you haven't read Terry Pratchett before, prepare yourself for some great laughs, inventive plot, and sharp satire. Pratchett's facility with satire within such an overfed genre (fantasy) is always a breath of fresh air.
Small Gods starts in Omnia, a country organized around a fundamentalist religion. Novice Brutha (our hero) is a simple, honest novice at the Temple who discovers that the voice that is speaking to him is coming from a tortoise claiming to be his god - Om. The tortoise explains that he's got some head-cracking to do, and he needs help. Why? Because he's a tortoise! Brutha gets set on a path walking between belief in his God and skepticism, while the evil Quisitor Vorbis tries to foment a holy war between Omnia and neighboring Ephebe. As the plot moves forward Brutha has to decide whether to do what he's been told or what he feels is right, even if the directions come from a tortoise.
Initially, I thought that Small Gods was a too obvious with the "question religion" type message, but I got over that because of some great writing by Pratchett: you shouldn't have to die for the truth - it's dying for lies makes more sense. Most of all, your god doesn't want you to die for it if the God's existence is dependent on you - you should live a long and fruitful life for your god.
If you're really put off by snarky references to religious tradition that may be too close for comfort, you may have probelms with Small Gods. But if you have a pretty good sense of humor and you're ready for some challenging satire that will make you think a little and entertain you, then go get some Terry Pratchett, for small Gods' sake.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)Terry Pratchett is an awesome writer and "Small Gods" is a fantastic book. Pratchett has singlehandedly created his own genre and has garnered himself a huge following -- and it's easy to see why. "Small Gods" has to be one of the wittiest books ever written, with incredibly sharp one-liners, in-jokes and pratfalls. Great names and clever words hide subtle parodies and satire, which are a bonus as the plot is entertaining enough on its own.
I tried to read this book in contracts class when it first came out and kept on getting busted for laughing out loud, no matter how much I tried to hide it. The only other author able to do this for me is PJ O'Rourke. If you read it on public transport, people will look at you and think you're kinda strange, unless they too know who Pratchett is, in which case they will envy you reading and try to catch furtive glimpses of the text over your shoulder.
This is one of my favourite books of all time -- read it and love it too. If I could award it 6 stars, I would.
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best,
By A Customer
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)In my humble opinion, Small Gods is one of the best in the discworld series, right up there with Hogfather and Interesting Times. The great thing about Pratchett's books is that they have so many dimensions. This one is no exception. It made me think and it made me laugh.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book proves that the best humor is the most honest.,
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)_Small_Gods_ was my first Pratchett book. I was unwilling to read it, as I have never been a fan of fantasy novels. Once started, I couldn't put it down!
Swinging like a crazed Tarzan between hilarious and depressing, this novel is an insightful and wonderfully funny look at organized religion everywhere.
And even with all the slapstick, puns, and biting wit, Pratchett still leaves us with an inspiring message: true faith is a powerful thing.
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Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
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