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Small Gods by Terry Pratchett
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Small Gods (original 1992; edition 1993)

by Terry Pratchett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,612115354 (4.17)249
Member:MarcusAverius
Title:Small Gods
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Corgi Adult (1993), Edition: New Ed, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Read It
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Fantasy, Comical Fantasy

Work details

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (1992)

  1. 74
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  2. 20
    The Blue Hawk by Peter Dickinson (souloftherose)
    souloftherose: Although The Blue Hawk is aimed specifically at children/young adults and Small Gods is an adult book, I think both books examine and raise interesting questions about faith and religion and readers who enjoyed one may well enjoy the other.
  3. 00
    Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez (electronicmemory)
    electronicmemory: Humorous but also insightful stories about ordinary mortals who find themselves caught up in the - often petty - fights of their gods.
  4. 22
    People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (catherinestead)
    catherinestead: A very different style of book from a very different genre, but an interesting commentary on the corruption/misuse of religious faith which complements this book's treatment of the same theme.
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» See also 249 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Small Gods stands on its own in the Discworld universe, at least when it comes to the story and the characters. It does of course continue to build on the “in jokes” that have been accumulating from the very first Discworld book. There are some references that I think would sail harmlessly over the head of anybody who hadn’t read the earlier books, but catching those references is part of the fun for me.

The story is based on the idea that there are lots and lots of “small gods” out there, with no influence or power, desperately trying to get the attention of a human who will believe in them. Once somebody believes in them, they start to gain power, which grows as they accumulate more true believers. This can also happen in reverse; if the believers diminish, then so does the god. The story focuses on a god by the name of Om, who has unexpectedly found himself in the form of a tortoise as his power is diminishing. Only a single boy by the name of Brutha truly believes in him and can hear his voice. Adventures ensue.

I really enjoyed the first half of the story, but I started to lose interest in the second half. I couldn’t really say why; it just seemed to get a little tedious for a while there. The humor in this book was great, though. It wasn’t quite on the level with the books in the Witches subseries for me, but it was pretty close. The part about penguins being extremely confused birds because they only know how to fly under water completely cracked me up. I’m not sure what that says about my sense of humor. It’s a bit corny, I guess!

I thought this book had a little more meat on it in terms of covering some deeper themes. Several of the previous books have done that to some extent, but I thought it was more substantial in this book. As you might guess from the title and the premise, there are quite a few thoughts about the nature of religion, how it affects people, how it gains power, and how it’s used. There were also some thoughts about war and slavery.

So overall I enjoyed it, but I thought it dragged a bit in the middle. ( )
  YouKneeK | Aug 12, 2016 |
4.5
'If a man lived properly, not according to what any priests said, but according to what seemed decent and honest inside, then it would, at the end, more or less, turn out all right.' Small Gods is the darkest book in this series so far. It is also ridiculously witty and funny if that makes any sense. It should for Terry Pratchett's fans.
He always pokes fun at one thing or another. I think by the end of the series there won't be anything left in this world to be laughed at. The main target of Small Gods is organized religion and it is hilarious. There is an occasional poke at philosophers (and atheists) too. '“What’s a philosopher?” said Brutha. “Someone who’s bright enough to find a job with no heavy lifting,” said a voice in his head.' Still, you can't have a story about organized religion and Quisition with its torturing inquisitors and the exquisitors that supervise them, without darkness and, let me tell you, this book has got a truly terrible villain. If there weren't Om and his curses and threats, philosophers and some other characters, it wouldn't be as funny as it turned out to be. Even the ending is bittersweet because of him.

Omnia is a one-god country, it has Quisition to sort out the infidels and its army to sort out the rest of the world. As you may imagine, they can be very persuasive because 'guilt was the grease in which the wheels of the authority turned.' Vorbis is an exquisitor and one of the worst characters I've read. You see, he doesn't even have the twisted justification for torture such as pleasure. He would do certain things to another human being or an animal just to see how it behaves. 'Vorbis could humble himself in prayer in a way that made the posturings of power-mad emperors look subservient.' And this man has just decided that Ephebe should get Omnia's religion - whether they want it or not.

Enter Great God Om whose greatest problem right now is that there is only one true believer left in Omnia. Brutha is a common young man with an uncommon memory and he gets a surprise when a tortoise appears in his garden. When it addresses him in his mind, Brutha thinks it's a demon. Soon, he realizes it is the Great God Om who isn't so great as Omnians thought. Gods need believers and he has only one.

Their encounter and the fact that Vorbis recognizes Brutha's memory as something he could use is the base plot of this book. There are so many memorable one-liners and paragraphs that it would be too much to put them in one review. Besides, it would be a shame not to read it.

One of the best things about this book is that it doesn't mock beliefs, but the way organized religion uses them for its own purposes.
I loved Om's musings and his interactions with Brutha. In the end even Om learned a simple truth: 'if you want thousands, you have to fight for one.' Vorbis, on the other hand, forgot one.'Fear is strange soil. Mainly it grows obedience like corn, which grows in rows and makes weeding easy. But sometimes it grows the potatoes of defiance, which flourish underground.' ( )
  Aneris | Aug 12, 2016 |
I LOVE this book. Probably my favourite Discworld after Thief of Time. Well worth a reread. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Aug 7, 2016 |
Gods can only exist when people believe in them, not merely fear their earthly administration - AKA The Church. In order to survive the millennia, a god must improve the lives of his subjects - or perish in the desert. It only takes one man to alter the course of history – towards community or war. The build-up was a bit tedious, but Pratchett’s satire/observations are delightful.

His prose is rather stellar at times:

Humans! They lived in a world where the grass continued to be green and the sun rose every day and flowers regularly turned into fruit, and what impressed them? Weeping statues. And wine made out of water! As if the turning of sunlight into wine, by means of vines and grapes and time and enzymes, wasn't a thousand times more impressive and happened all the time...

But how much worse to have been a god, and to now be no more than a smoky bundle of memories, blown back and forth across the sand made from the crumbled stones of your temples...

Ordinary madness he could deal with. In his experience there were quite a lot of mad people in the world. But Vorbis had passed right through that red barrier and had built some kind of logical structure on the other side. Rational thoughts made out of insane components... ( )
  dandelionroots | Jul 19, 2016 |
Not sure if I just wasn't in the mood for this one or not, but I didn't find it as enjoyable as the last few. I think my hate for people like Vorbis kept getting in the way. Other than that it was still a good book, and it made plenty of great points about people and their religions. Especially poingnant with the current presidential election going on here in the US. Too many people hate by rote and too many more follow out of fear or duty to a mislead cause. ( )
  readafew | Jun 18, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
The problem with Small Gods is that its plot is complicated without being especially deft, and many tiny scenes exist solely to move stage scenery. Since a fair number of Pratchett's jokes recur from one book to the next, and many of the jokes in this novel are of the running or repeating variety (virtually every character, seeing Om as a tortoise, remarks, "There's good eating on one of those things"), the reader can end up looking for the good lines, like a partygoer digging through a dish of peanuts for the odd cashew.
added by Shortride | editThe Washington Post, Gregory Feeley (pay site) (May 27, 1994)
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ittekot, VenugopalanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindforss, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Planer, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sabanosh, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sohár AnikóTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
[None]
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First words
Now consider the tortoise and the eagle.
Quotations
And it came to pass that in time the Great God Om spake unto Brutha, the Chosen One: "Psst!"
The figures looked more or less human. And they were engaged in religion. You could tell by the knives (it's not murder if you do it for a god).
Gods don't like people not doing much work. People who aren't busy all the time might start to think.
Or, to put it another way, the existence of a badly put-together watch proved the existence of a blind watchmaker.
Because what gods need is belief, and what humans want is gods.
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Book description
In the beginning was the Word.

And the Word was: "Hey, you!"

For Brutha the novice is the Chosen One. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love.

He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please...
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0061092177, Mass Market Paperback)

Discworld is an extragavanza--among much else, it has billions of gods. "They swarm as thick as herring roe," writes Terry Pratchett in Small Gods, the 13th book in the series. Where there are gods galore, there are priests, high and low, and... there are novices. Brutha is a novice with little chance to become a priest--thinking does not come easily to him, although believing does. But it is to Brutha that the great god Om manifests, in the lowly form of a tortoise. --Blaise Selby

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:42 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Brutha is a novice who is content with growing melons for the temple monks until the great god, Om, manifests himself in the form of a tortoise and announces that Brutha is to become the chosen one.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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