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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 Easy Read, entertaining, a bit offesive
Pratchett takes a hard swing at all organized religion in this book. Though the humor and interesting plot kept me turning pages, as a Christian, some parts that were intended for humor actually ended up offending me. (such as how sheep are stupid and need to be led...and much more that relates with Christian theology).
Pratchett once again displays his ability to...
Published on Dec 1 2000 by Amazon Customer


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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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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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5.0 out of 5 stars For Sale: One Slight Worn Out, But Still Usable Divinity, June 30 2001
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant surprise!, June 21 2001
By 
Kam (Las Vegas) - See all my reviews
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've ever read, April 11 2001
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).
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5.0 out of 5 stars The clearest mirror of all, March 27 2001
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pratchett steps out of humorous fantasy and into satire, March 13 2001
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.
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