Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

This is the 13th book in the Discworld series, and the last book I started on vacation. It’s also made the BBC’s The Big Read list.

Published: 1992

Genre: fantasy

Length: 400 pages

Setting: Omnia, a smallish nation on Discworld

Summary: Short version: Om, reincarnated as a tortoise, is trying to regain his godly powers

Long version: The time of the Prophet has arrived for the Church of the Great God Om. Turns out, Om is stuck in the shape of a lowly tortoise. Also, only Novice Brutha can hear him. Brutha is not the sharpest stick around. He does have the ability to remember everything he’s ever experienced. The High Quisition, Vorbis, takes advantage of Burtha’s loyalty and memory on a diplomatic mission to Ephebe. Brutha’s simple faith is pushed by constant conversation with Om. Om is limited because only Brutha’s faith is sustaining him. The Ephebans think they’re safe because of an impenetrable maze around their capital, but they haven’t reckoned on Brutha’s memory. When Vorbis and Brutha come back to Omnia, Vorbis declares himself the Prophet. Brutha decides he can’t abide the church Vorbis will implement and steps in as Prophet instead.

Final thoughts: A solid Discworld book that was lacking some of the humor that would bump it into the love I feel for other Discworld books. One of the major themes of this book is power and how it’s wielded. Omnia is all about control. Anyone who steps out of line or even questions the rules is eliminated. Brutha believes in those rules, mainly because they were beaten into him by his grandmother. Society in Ephebe works much differently. They elect their ruler and encourage philosophers who question everything. People are much happier in Ephebe than in Omnia. Brutha doesn’t really want Ephebe to be destroyed. He still does his duty when it’s asked of him. After walking home through the desert, his thoughts crystallize and he’s no longer willing to let Vorbis ruin things.

At the same time, Om, as a tortoise, is trying to regain his godly powers. He can only do that if more people believe in him. He’s afraid he’ll become one of the lost gods banished to the desert because no one believes in them anymore. He does get his power back, but Brutha prevents him from getting vengeance. Instead, that power is used to stop a war and implement peace and trade in its place.

Title comes from: Small gods are those with few believers and little power

Reading challenges fulfilled: book #69 for 2019

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