Boekverslag : Terry Pratchett - Small Gods
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Small Gods

1. 1st print:

1992, Victor Gollancz Ltd. London

2. Author:

Terry Pratchett was born in 1948 and is still not dead. He started work as a journalist one day in 1965 and saw his first corpse three hours later, work experience meaning something in those days. After doing just about every job it's possible to do in provincial journalism, except of course covering Saturday afternoon football, he joined the Central Electricity Generating Board and became a press officer for four nuclear power stations. He'd write a book about his experiences if he thought anyone would believe it.

All this came to an end in 1987 when it became obvious that the Discworld series was much more enjoyable than real work. Since then the books have reached double figures and have a regular place in the bestseller lists. He's also written books for children. Occasionally he gets accused of literature.

Terry Pratchett lives in Wilshire with his wife Lyn and daughter Rhianna. He says writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves

3. Characters:

The main character in Small Gods is the omnian novice Brutha. He is unable to read or write, is very obedient and has been blessed with the gift of outstanding memory. He is the chosen one, the prophet of the great god Om, mainly because he is Om’s only true believer. Brutha is a round character.

The omnian church worships the great god Om, praising him with numerous songs and prayers, about him conquering the infidel as mighty animals like bulls and eagles. Then one day Om materializes on the Discworld in the form of a small one-eyed tortoise. He finds his life depends on Brutha, his only believer, for Brutha’s death will result in the end of his own life. Om is a round character

Deacon Vorbis is the much feared, if not dreaded, head of the omnian quisition. Under his command the quisition in omnia has increased rapidly, for an 8th prophet is due to arrive soon. Vorbis rejects every form of religion other than the omnian. Vorbis is preparing an invasion of the neighbouring country of Omnia, Ephebe, because in Vorbis’ eyes Ephebe is a source of infidel. Vorbis is a flat character

4. Place:

The discworld series, which Small gods is part of, takes place on the discworld, a world carried on the back of four giant elephants which on their turn walk on the back of a giant turtle named A’tuin (sex unknown).

This book, however, covers only some events in Omnia and Ephebe.

5. Time:

The book, which is 272 pages long, is told in an chronological order, and contains no flashbacks. On the whole the story told in Small Gods stretches over a time frame of a little over 100 years.

6. Construction:

The book has no chapters, different paragraphs are used to skip time and place. This is common for discworld books.

7. Theme.

The theme of this book is dependency. Both Brutha and Om depend on each other. Brutha draws his strength from his belief in Om. Om on the other hand needs Brutha in order to survive and, hopefully, grow strong once again. This will prove to be very difficult, because Om is just a defenceless tortoise (if one neglects his eyebrow smiting abilities), and Brutha is not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.

8. Title.

The title refers to the gods on the discworld with little or no believers, Om is also considered a small god.

9. Text sample.

In an attempt to catch up with brutha, abducted by Vorbis, Om lets himself be caught by an eagle.

The world spun under Om as the eagle sought for shell-cracking height, and his mind was besieged with existential dread of being off the ground. And Brutha’s thought, bright and clear this close to death…

I’m on my back getting hotter and I’m going to die..

Careful, careful. It’ll let go any second…

Om stuck out his long scrawny neck, stared at the body just above him picked what he hoped was about the right spot, plunged his beak through the brown feathers between the talons, and gripped..

The eagle blinked. No tortoise had ever done that to an eagle, anywhere esle in history.

10. Summary.

The omnian novice Brutha was working silently in the temple garden, when the great god Om spoke unto him. At first Brutha fears he’s overcome by a demon, however further investigation indicates the voice is originating from a small one-eyed tortoise, which just survived a five hundred feet drop from the talons of an eagle. The small tortoise, which can speak, claims to be the great god Om, much to Brutha’s disbelief.

In one of his disputes with Om Brutha catches the attention of the exquisitor Vorbis, a man dreaded in the omnian church. Vorbis, after doing some background research on Brutha, decides the young novice might have some use for him. Later it is decided that Brutha is to go with the omnina delegation the Ephebe, a neighbouring country where many gods are worshipped. The Omnian delegation travels to Ephebe through the desert. During their voyage Brutha notices a small army running through the desert with a big supply of water bottles, however when he tells Vorbis his observation he is ordered to forget it, a request considered to be impossible by Brutha.

The rest of their voyage is by boat. Not until the are on the boat Om discoveres to whom the name Vorbis belongs, a person who Om does not like, for a previous encounter was nearly fatal to Om. Unfortunately the boat gets caught in a heavy storm and Om has to face one his his biggest terrors when several sailors are trying to sacrifice Brutha to the Sea Goddess. Om makes an desparate attempt to saves Brutha’s life by making an arrangment with the Sea Goddes, succesfully. The storm calms down and the sailors flee in fear of the might Om, to whom Brutha was allowed to pray before he was sacrificed. Several days later Brutha has a little chat with the captain, who turns out to be a supporter of “ De Chelonian Mobile” ( the turtle moves ), which is a group of people who believed the discworld is settled on the back of four giant elephants, which on their turn walk on the back of a enormous turtle. The omnian church rejects this idea, because it is written in the omnian holy books that the world is a sphere. Shortly after their arrival in Ephebe the delegation encounters another thing Ephebe has in excess besides gods, philosophers. These philosophers are the reason that previous attacks on Ephebe have failed. An Ephebian invention destroyed most of the attacking Omnian fleet earlier. It angers Vorbis when the omnian delegation is to be guided into the palace blindfolded and unarmed. The only way in and out the palace is through a labyrinth filled with deadly traps. Once they are in the palace the omnian delegation has a very unwelcome stay, for no attention is being paid to their religious responsibilities. Also they are prisoners in the palace, of course they are free to go, but no-one has every been able to cross the labyrinth without help alive. Meanwhile Om attempts to find some philosophers, in the hope they can give him some information about how to regain his power. He comes across Didactylos, a well-known blind philosopher and also a very excentric one. Meanwhile the omnian delegation meets with the Tyrant, the ruler of Ephebe, who tries to force a peace treaty on the omnians. The peace treaty is rejected by Vorbis. Later on Brutha finds a small group of philopophers all gathered around a small tortoise which is making mathematical shapes on the ground with it’s paw. When the crowd breaks up Brutha finds Om and Didactylos. Didactylos supplies Brutha with some information about gods and how the survive and grow stronger. When they arrive back at the palace Vorbis summons Brutha, and orders him to guide him through the labyrinth. Together they set of the city, killing one maze-guide in the proces. Although the harbor side of Ephebe is very well defended, the desert side is not. Vorbis attacks the guards at the gate on the desert side, and opens the gate. In no time the omnian army waiting behind the gates in the desert conquer Ephebe. As new ruler of Ephebe Vorbis summons the writer of a scroll called “ De Chelonian Mobile”. Vorbis gets into a dispute with the writer, who turns out to be Didactylos, but Didactylos manages to escape Vorbis and his soldiers. Vorbis orders the Ephebian library to be burned down, however Brutha stores as many scrolls as he can in his memory. Brutha, Didactylos and Didactylos’ nephew Urn escape, accompanied by Vorbis’ bodyguard Sgt. Simony (who also is a supporter of Didactylos’ theory). They make their escape with a small boat. Unfortunately the Sea Goddess returns to collect her payment made in the previous arragnement with Om. Brutha jumps out of the boat seconds before it is hit by lightning. The omnian ships in pursuit of the fugitives are also destroyed by the might of the Sea Goddess. When he regains consciousness on the beach, Brutha also finds the weakend, unconscious body of Vorbis. Brutha decides to take Vorbis back to Omnia, through the desert. In the desert Om finally gets some evidence to support his theory that most of the previous Omnian prophets were frauds. Certain mushrooms from the desert made the “prophets” see all kinds of amazing things like giant purple singing slugs and exploding girrafes. Meanwhile Ephebe fight back for it’s freedom, with succes. However Vorbis regains consciousness and hits Brutha on the head with a rock and resumes his voyage towards Omnia, with Brutha by his side. Vorbis becomes the eighth prophet when they return in Omnia. Brutha finds out what happend a week later when he recovers. Ephebe and several other countries prepare an attack to crush Omnia once and for all, while Vorbis’ mind develops a new torturing device especially for supporters of “ De Chelonian Mobile”, a great metal tortoise which is slowly heated when a person is strapped to it’s back. Brutha, disagreing with Vorbis becoming the eigth prophet stands up to vorbis. Not much later Brutha himself is strapped to the back of the torturing device. Om let’s himself be caught by an eagle, because he was left in the desert, to get to Omnia as fast as he can.

Om succeeds in controlling the movements of the eagle by using the unwritten motto of the quisition: quius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum. ( when you have their full attention in your grip, soon their hearts and minds will follow). In front of an enntire crowd Om bounces of the forehead of Vorbis going 3 metres per second, thanks to the eagle. Immediatly the crowd starts to believe in Om again, so he grows strong once again.

Brutha, the newly appointed prophet, prophet of prophets according to Om, surrenders Omnia to the attacking warships led by Ephebe, thus avoiding a war and restoring the good relations between the neighbouring countries. For a whole century Brutha leads Omnia, which evolves into a flourishing country with the biggest non-magical library. Unfortunately there is no-one who can avoid a certain charachter on the discworld, not even Brutha. With his sharp scythe and black cloak, death escorts Brutha into a black desert. And together with Vorbis, who did not dare to cross the desert by himself and had been waiting for someone else ever since he died, brutha sets of into the desert.

11. My opinion

In my view “Small Gods” is one of the best books ever. All the characters have different personalities, which are very well expressed, unlike most books. Sometimes Terry pratchett evern goes so far to alter the font of certain characters, e.g death speaks in capitals, just as the death of rats which can only say ,,SQUEAK”. I also like the character Om, at first he curses everyone opposing him, but as the story carries on Om personality changes to a character which is more aware of it’s vulnerability (until he regains his powers, and becomes more selfish again).

But above all, this books is very humorous, and easy to follow, even for one who has not any discworld novels before.
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