Friday, 6 July 2012

Review: Small Gods

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirteen is my favourite number. Small Gods is the thirteenth discworld novel, but not my favourite, despite being very good. It was published in 1992.

Imagine being a small god, out in the desert... You need believers, to become strong, to get out of there. You find someone, a shepherd, and he spreads believe in you, starts a religion that makes you strong. Strong enough to fight other gods.
But, you don't care for people. They are only good for believing. Giving you power is their only purpose.
And then, one day, you come down to earth as a mighty bull, to trample some unbelievers... Only you're not a mighty bull but a small tortoise with no power at all. What would you do?

It takes the Great God Om three years in the desert before he gets to Omnia, his country. Since shape forms personality, he has almost forgotten who he is, but here is faith, believe to remind him of his identity. It also explains why he's a tortoise: the Great God Om has only one believer left, a novice with a strange mind and slow thoughts. He needs him; he has to stay alive, has to continue believing, maybe convince others...
The religion around the Great God Om is still going strong, but people believe more in the Church and the Quisition than they believe in their God. This is the way all gods go, eventually. Om puts up a fight, and, who knows, maybe having been a small tortoise for a while will change him...
And then, there is the last paragraph. Suddenly you hope that there are more people like Brutha, even here, somewhere.

Small Gods is a satire on religion. It is also a satire on politics, philosophy and warfare. It is a quite accurate description of people, as well.
Guest stars this time are Death, the Death of Rats and the Librarian. Is there any discworld novel at all which doesn't feature Death?

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