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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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

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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 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let there be lettuce! Let there be slices of melon!, July 6 2006
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Small Gods (Paperback)
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 them. Each small god lies in wait, desperately seeking to make someone believe in him; on the Discworld, gods need people more than people need gods, for belief is the food of the gods.

The story takes us far away from the environs of Ankh-Morpork to Omnia, a land on the Klatchian coast ruled by the priesthood of the Church of Om. It's an arid, harsh world where the Quisition works tirelessly to beat the sin out of individuals deemed to be suspicious (and almost no one is safe, for the priests regard the very existence of suspicion as proof of guilt). You would think that the Great God Om would bask in the glory and power of all that faith being demanded of the people, but ritual has replaced substance in Omnia; the people may worship Om, but they don't really believe in him anymore. For the past three years, the Great God Om has been stuck in the body of a one-eyed tortoise and has only now been able to find one man with the true flame of faith burning inside him. Unfortunately for Om, that one believer is Brutha, a novitiate in the Church whom, all would agree, is just a little bit slow on the uptake and is just about the last person Om would have chosen to become his new Prophet. Brutha does have a perfect memory, but all that memory crammed into his mind leaves little room left over for actual thought. In a way he fits right in, though, as the Church does all it can to discourage individual thought, because that kind of thing just leads to trouble.

Naturally, Brutha has a hard time accepting a tortoise as the Great God Om, and Om doesn't have the power to do anything but curl ineffectual oaths and curses at things that bother him. Om is actually a pretty surly little god, but spending three years as a tortoise, having to worry about falcons swooping down on you and then dropping you from a great height, tends to bring out the worst in gods. Brutha is increasingly disturbed to learn that Om never really gave his followers any instruction whatsoever; all of the holy books he knows by heart suddenly come into question, and that's hard on a true believer.

As the novel progresses, Brutha finds himself accompanying Deacon Vorbis, head of the Quisition, to the land of Ephebe where philosophers cover the landscape like locusts, argue violently among themselves, and generally live in barrels. One such philosopher is Didactylos, whose philosophy can basically be boiled down to the words "It's a funny old world." He now becomes the unifying part of an underground movement that insists, despite the tenets of the Church, that "the Turtle moves," that turtle being, of course, the Great A'Tuin. As so often happens, religious dispute breeds war, and the future of Omnia - not to mention the future of the Great God Om - lies in the palms of Brutha. There is only one thing you can be sure of in such a precarious situation: somewhere nearby, Cut-Me-On-Hand-Off Dhblah will be there selling all sorts of wossnames - onna stick.

Pratchett's razor-sharp wit cuts especially deep into religion, society, and the body politic in this novel. To some degree, organized religion is being satirized in these pages, but it's a healthy and honest sort of criticism; more than anything else, Small Gods is an ingeniously subtle philosophical examination of the meaning of life in an uncertain world. Pratchett offers one explanation as to how and why gods die, and there is more than enough weighty material in these pages to give us pause in between fits of laughter.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And they're all small --, Sept. 1 2005
By 
wiredweird "wiredweird" (Earth, or somewhere nearby) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Gods (Paperback)
-- sooner or later.
Pratchett has done the unthinkable - kept a series (and a humor series at that) alive and fresh well into its second dozen. This book started that second dozen.
It's about Brutha, a minor novitiate even among novitiates who are all minor. He's doing what he does best, hoeing the beans, when his god arises before him in physical manifestation:
A turtle. Slow. Partial to lettuce. Not fond of being turned over or dropped. Not much for conversation when it gets cold out. And, as near as Om can tell, the god of Brutha only. No one else seems to be paying much attention when the god calls down plagues, or at least some really nasty rashes.
In Prathcett's hands, this small start yields a very worthy bit of amusement. No, there's really no point to what Pratchett writes (well, that's what he wants you to think). Brutha crosses his world, overturns empires as easily as he overturns weeds in the bean-patch, and dies happy. Everyone dies, and Brutha has seen lots of the other ways - this really is a happy ending.
For all of its shallow jests, this book has rewards for the serious reader. Brutha wins in the end by be slow, thick, and mind-bogglingly even-handed. Om finally comes out of his shell and really makes his entry, even among the more exclusive clubs of the gods. Everyone gets what they deserve in the end, no matter what you thought they deserved. By the way: observe Om, the lowly turtle, and the place of the turtle in Discworld cosmology.
Pratchett fans: watch Vorbis. Yes, the character dies, but that doesn't mean much in Discworld. He may reincarnate as Vetinari, or maybe as Vetinari's evil identical twin. Death is there, all caps, but really quite a congenial chap - says "Thank you" when you pass him the bottle, sort of thing. The librarian is there, working hard in librarian heroics. Lu Tze is there, makin sure that history turns out the way it's supposed to, not that he has a lot to work with.
Every series has its ups and downs. This is a serious up for Discworld. Enjoy!
//wiredweird
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just An All Around Good Book, Jan. 5 2002
By 
"sthielman" (APO, AE United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
Small Gods was perhaps the best book Terry Pratchett has ever written. It was a bit more serious than most of his other books, which was partly why I liked it. The book was refreshing to read, simply because I had never read anything with so much to say that managed to say is so clearly, while still maintaining a light-hearted attitude.
One thing I enjoyed about Small Gods was that it kept my attention the whole way through. The plot was fantastic with many interesting little twists and turns that made me want to keep reading. It was basically about a god who gets reincarnated as a turtle. He figures out that his believers beleive in his church because they are afraid of it, but nothim. It was very well-written and told the story flawlessly. Quite aside from that, it had me falling out of my chair from laughing on several occasions. Needless to say, I enjoyed it.
The book also had great characters. It was easy to relate to them because they acted like regular people, but without becoming stereotype nonentities who just lead their boring lives. There were all different types of personalities with all their different opinions and emotions, but the narration stayed neutral the whole time. One thing that's important in any story is a good villain and this one had it. His name is Vorbis and he's the head of what I assume is the Discworld parallel of the Inquisition. I hated him throughout the whole book. He was a cynic and a sadist, but Pratchett does us the enormous service of never dehumanizing him the whole time. He had motives for what he did, even though they were twisted, and at the end we pity him more than hate him.
It wasn't just fluff. It's very easy to classify all books with humor in them as fluff, but you can't do that with this one. It had an idea behind it throughout the whole book and even somewhat of a moral. This was that people should never ever be treated as things. Pratchett applies this to every character and not just the villain. One thing that I appreciated was the fact that Pratchett maintained a clear head throughout the whole thing. He tried to be inoffensive, but not too hard. There is a fine line between inoffensive and politically correct, and Pratchett didn't cross it. Overall, I thought it was because it made me think.
In conclusion, I give Small Gods two thumbs up and five stars because it deserved it. I felt better for reading it and highly recommend it to everyone who hasn't.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just An All Around Good Book, Jan. 5 2002
By 
"sthielman" (APO, AE United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
Small Gods was perhaps the best book Terry Pratchett has ever written. It was a bit more serious than most of his other books, which was partly why I liked it. The book was refreshing to read, simply because I had never read anything with so much to say that managed to say is so clearly, while still maintaining a light-hearted attitude.
One thing I enjoyed about Small Gods was that it kept my attention the whole way through. The plot was fantastic with many interesting little twists and turns that made me want to keep reading. It was basically about a god who gets reincarnated as a turtle. He figures out that his believers beleive in his church because they are afraid of it, but nothim. It was very well-written and told the story flawlessly. Quite aside from that, it had me falling out of my chair from laughing on several occasions. Needless to say, I enjoyed it.
The book also had great characters. It was easy to relate to them because they acted like regular people, but without becoming stereotype nonentities who just lead their boring lives. There were all different types of personalities with all their different opinions and emotions, but the narration stayed neutral the whole time. One thing that's important in any story is a good villain and this one had it. His name is Vorbis and he's the head of what I assume is the Discworld parallel of the Inquisition. I hated him throughout the whole book. He was a cynic and a sadist, but Pratchett does us the enormous service of never dehumanizing him the whole time. He had motives for what he did, even though they were twisted, and at the end we pity him more than hate him.
It wasn't just fluff. It's very easy to classify all books with humor in them as fluff, but you can't do that with this one. It had an idea behind it throughout the whole book and even somewhat of a moral. This was that people should never ever be treated as things. Pratchett applies this to every character and not just the villain. One thing that I appreciated was the fact that Pratchett maintained a clear head throughout the whole thing. He tried to be inoffensive, but not too hard. There is a fine line between inoffensive and politically correct, and Pratchett didn't cross it. Overall, I thought it was because it made me think.
In conclusion, I give Small Gods two thumbs up and five stars because it deserved it. I felt better for reading it and highly recommend it to everyone who hasn't.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Do the gods make man or does man make the gods or ...., Jan. 1 2002
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
I've read quite a few of the Pratchett books, mostly at the insistence of my 13 year old son who loves these novels. This ranks right up there among my favorites, and is intriguing for the allusions to so many of the world's religions. The author is clearly well read, and catching these little references produced many aha! moments, I confess that I even lugged home a compendium on world religion to dig out the paralells and little obscure references - and there is alot more to this book than meets the eye. Well, but in the end, I find myself in complete sympathy with the conclusion, and thus a truly satisfying narrative from start to finish. I should add that this approach to reading this book drove my son absolutely crazy, and in fact taken only at face value, no references or allusions the book is still a great read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Turtle Moves!!, Nov. 6 2001
By 
Angela McClelland (Wheeling, WV USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
I was pleasantly surprised with this book. One of my friends suggested I not read this one yet, because she knew my habit of giving up on a book when bored with it. But being me, I read it anyway.
It was excellent. The way Pratchett describes how gods and goddesses come into power and shrivel into a mere ghost of their previous forms by basis of belief is superb. This is one of those books that entertain you all the way through, but soon you find yourself really thinking about what the content means or what it COULD mean.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Discworld books, Oct. 17 2001
By 
Kevin (Ann Arbor, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is simply hilarious. All of Terry's books at least make me crack a smile at one point, but only a few are truly comedy masterworks, and this is one of them. I don't want to give away much of the plot or any of the jokes, so this won't be a very long review. Suffice to say that this is one of the best religious parodies I've read. Some other reviewers have found this book offensive, but unless you're a very touchy religious conservative or a Catholic from several hundred years ago, I doubt you'll mind. None of the characters in this book occur in other books, which makes this an ideal start to the Discworld series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what you'd expect from fantasy, but..., Aug. 14 2001
By 
Matthew Smedberg (Nashville, TN) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
still well worth reading, whether you are looking for something light to take the edge off a long day at work or something a little heavier to pose a few interesting questions. Small Gods is the only Discworld novel I've read, so I can't compare it to the rest of Pratchett's work, but it grabbed my attention and held it. It's a many-layered book, but Pratchett doesn't force the reader to go any deeper than they feel like. Knowing Latin is an asset in reading (he can come out and say more adult things which he leaves implied in English.) Also, this book doesn't have either a "British" or an "American" feel, which so much fantasy falls into. Overall, excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Light Fantasy? Not really - but still highly recommended!, July 28 2001
By 
This review is from: Small Gods (Mass Market Paperback)
A few weeks ago I finished my first Discworld novel, 'Mort', which was a very light and funny book. Therefore, I assumed all Discworld novels would be like this.. I guess I was wrong. Small Gods is funny (at least in the beginning) - but far, far from being a light book, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Small Gods tells about Brutha, a not so smart lad who one day hears the voice of his great god Om calling him. But contrary to what he expected, the great god Om wasn't really such a great god - in fact, he was quite small.. like a turtle. And he didn't have any powers at all. And apparently, not many believers either. The book tells about the god Om and Brutha's adventures, trying to survive in Omnia (which is a very religious in a fanatic way...) - and maybe even restore the god to his full power.
The book really started light, but turned into a very heavy and philosophical novel about the nature of religions and gods - and of people and belief. Really, I think it would've fit quite well into a philosophy class. Typically to Terry Pratchett, the book is very very witty - I don't think the man knows how to write in an 'Unwitty' way. I don't think I laughed at all during the second half of the book, but I still couldn't stop reading it - and definitely enjoyed the read. I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Discworld, and enjoys reading books which make you think afterwards. However, don't get it if you want a book which will just make you laugh.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, July 17 2001
By 
F. G. Hamer "MadManxMan" (Isle of Man) - See all my reviews
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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.
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Small Gods
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (Paperback - Nov. 1 1993)
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