Top positive review
Timely, Absurd, Satirical, Thought Provoking
Reviewed in the United States on June 26, 2018
Small Gods is a novel of Discworld where the world is a flat disc, balanced on the backs of four elephants which are standing on the back of a giant turtle. There are many novels set in Discworld, and most of them are clever, witty, and rapid-fire novels. Almost all of the Discworld novels fall into different categories: Tiffany Aching, Rincewind, the three witches, Sam Vines and the guards, and Death. Each book in a group focuses on one of them, although they cross over and pop up in each others' books all the time. This book is one of the few that stands alone. There are only the fleeting mentions or appearances of the familiar such as Ankh- Morpork (a familiar setting in Discworld), Lu Tse (an ancient monk), and the librarian from the Unseen University (an orangutan). Death has a more substantial appearance, but I would not consider this book to be a novel of Death. This is a story of faith, religion, philosophy, war, loyalty, and integrity. That sounds a bit highfalutin, but do not forget that this is a Terry Pratchett book so it is also satirical, absurd, and occasionally silly. Brutha, the main character, is a naïve novice monk in Omnia. Vorbis is a scheming high priest and head of state of Omnia who dominates through fear and directs their version of the inquisition. These story begins when an eagle drops a turtle in the garden where Brutha is working. The turtle is currently the manifestation of a small god (Om) who regains his consciousness on the descent. Only Brutha can hear the god speak. Antics, diplomacy, treachery, prayer, and great adventure ensue. There is method to the madness. Terry Pratchett does a wonderful job of maintaining the integrity of his absurd world and his characters while keeping everything fresh and creative. As always, the humor is wrapped around serious themes. The discussions of religion, faith, and philosophy are absurd, but thought provoking. Actually, there is a large cast of characters in this book with gods, philosophers, monks, priests, torturers, soldiers, sailors, a turtle, foreign leaders, a fisherman, and so on. I cannot read too many of them in a row, but when I need something different, a Discworld novel is the perfect metaphorical palate refresher. Like all the Discworld books, the tone is satirical and clever. While it makes sense to generally read the books in order, this book can stand alone. These books do not contain any scenes, language, or images that would rate even a PG-13 rating at the movies. If a reader does not have sufficient maturity, much of the book will be wasted, because you won’t get the jokes or understand the satire. It should be impossible to write such pure nonsense that ends up making great sense.