Book review by Anthony Campbell. The review is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Terry Pratchett has been writing his Discworld novels for a long time now and still maintains a remarkable standard of freshness and inventiveness. Discworld is in many ways a mirror image of our world. In this book, for example, people living in a theocracy are persecuted for believing that the world is flat and is supported on a turtle instead of accepting the orthodox teaching that it is round and revolves round the sun. Discworld, that is, allows Pratchett to comment obliquely on our world.
Discworld religion is both like and unlike Earth religion. There are many gods, who depend on human belief for their continuing vitality. If no one believes in them they fade away. Om is the god of a state called Omnia but its religion has become corrupt and Om now has only one true believer, a monk called Brutha. As a result, Om can only manage to appear as a one-eyed tortoise and is barely hanging on to that incarnation. Omnia is a brutal state, dominated by oppression and torture. The story concerns Brutha's progressive disillusionment with the status quo and his role in the transformation of the state into something a little better.
Like all the Discworld novels this one is comic, but what is remarkable about Pratchett is that he manages to include themes of spirituality, belief, and forgiveness without destroying the comic tone; quite a feat. Not everyone likes Pratchett's writing, but I find him to be better value than many more prententious writers in the magic realism genre.
29 January 2006
%T Small Gods
%A Terry Pratchett
%I Corgi Books
%P 397 pp
%O paperback edition
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