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Small Gods (Discworld Series #13)

Small Gods (Discworld Series #13)

4.5 75
by Terry Pratchett

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Lost in the chill deeps of space between the galaxies, it sails on forever, a flat, circular world carried on the back of a giant turtle—


—a land where the unexpected can be expected. Where the strangest things happen to the nicest people. Like Brutha, a simple lad who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a


Lost in the chill deeps of space between the galaxies, it sails on forever, a flat, circular world carried on the back of a giant turtle—


—a land where the unexpected can be expected. Where the strangest things happen to the nicest people. Like Brutha, a simple lad who only wants to tend his melon patch. Until one day he hears the voice of a god calling his name. A small god, to be sure. But bossy as Hell.

Editorial Reviews

Piers Anthony
Terry Pratchett is fast, funny and going places. Try him!
Anne McCaffrey
Delightful . . . logically illogical as only Terry Pratchett canwrite.
Terry Pratchett does for fantasy what Douglas Adams did for science fiction.
San Francisco Chronicle
Unadulterated fun . . . witty, frequently hilarious . . .Pratchett parodies everything in sight.
Pratchett demonstrates just how great the distance is betweenone- or two-joke writers and the comic masters whose workwill still be read into the next century. So, no more talk abouthis 'getting better with each book.' He reached the top of hisform some time ago, and should remain there for years, toeveryone's benefit.
Oxford Times
Terry Pratchett is simply the best humorous writer of the 20th century. Wodehouse, Waugh, Sharpe, etc. all have their merits —sometimes considerable—but Pratchett really is a cut above the rest.
New York Review of Science Fiction
Pratchett is the funniest parodist working in the field today,period.
Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine
There is no end to the wacky wonders . . . no fantasies as consistently, inventively mad . . . wild and wonderful!
Time Out
If Pratchett had put quill to parchment before Douglas Adams, Ford Prefect would still be with his thumb in the air.
From the Publisher
"Surely the best novel Terry Pratchett has ever written, and the best comedy"
-John Clute, Interzone

Product Details

Turtleback Books
Publication date:
Discworld Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 7.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Now consider the tortoise and the eagle.

The tortoise is a ground-living creature. It is impossible to live nearer the ground without being under it. Its horizons are a few inches away. It has about as good a turn of speed as you need to hunt down a lettuce. It has survived while the rest of evolution flowed past it by being, on the whole, no threat to anyone and too much trouble to eat.

And then there is the eagle. A creature of the air and high places, whose horizons go all the way to the edge of the world. Eyesight keen enough to spot the rustle of some small and squeaky creature half a mile away. All power, all control. Lightning death on wings. Talons and claws enough to make a meal of anything smaller than it is and at least take a hurried snack out of anything bigger.

And yet the eagle will sit for hours on the crag and survey the kingdoms of the world until it spots a distant movement and then it will focus, focus, focus on the small shell wobbling among the bushes down there on the desert. And it will leap . . .

And a minute later the tortoise finds the world dropping away from it. And it sees the world for the first time, no longer one inch from the ground but five hundred feet above it, and it thinks: what a great friend I have in the eagle.

And then the eagle lets go.

And almost always the tortoise plunges to its death. Everyone knows why the tortoise does this. Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off. No one knows why the eagle does this. There's good eating on a tortoise but, considering the effort involved, there's much better eating on practically anything else. It'ssimply the delight of eagles to torment tortoises.

But of course, what the eagle does not realize is that it is participating in a very crude form of natural selection.

One day a tortoise will learn how to fly.

The story takes place in desert lands, in shades of umber and orange. When it begins and ends is more problematical, but at least one of its beginnings took place above the snowline, thousands of miles away in the mountains around the Hub.*

One of the recurring philosophical questions is:

"Does a failing tree in the forest make a sound when there is no one to hear?"

Which says something about the nature of philosophers, because there is always someone in a forest. It may only be a badger, wondering what that cracking noise was, or a squirrel a bit puzzled by all the scenery going upwards, but someone. At the very least, if it was deep enough in the forest, millions of small gods would have heard it.

Things just happen, one after another. They don't care who knows. But history . . . ah, history is different. History has to be observed. Otherwise it's not history. It's just . . . well, things happening one after another.

And, of course, it has to be controlled. Otherwise it might turn into anything. Because history, contrary to popular theories, is kings and dates and battles. And these things have to happen at the right time. This is difficult. In a chaotic universe there are too many things to go wrong. It's too easy for a general's horse to lose a shoe at the wrong time, or for someone to mishear an order, or for the carrier of the vital message to be waylaid by some men with sticks and a cash flow problem. Then there are wild stories, parasitic growths on the tree of history, trying to bend it their way.

So history has its caretakers.

They live . . . well, in the nature of things they live wherever they are sent, but their spiritual home is in a hidden valley in the high Ramtops of the Discworld, where the books of history are kept.

These aren't books in which the events of the past are pinned like so many butterflies to a cork. These are the books from which history is derived. There are more than twenty thousand of them; each one is ten feet high, bound in lead, and the letters are so small that they have to be read with a magnifying glass.

When people say "It is writtenit is written here.

There are fewer metaphors around than people think.

Every month the abbot and two senior monks go into the cave where the books are kept. It used to be the duty of the abbot alone, but two other reliable monks were included after the unfortunate case of the 59th Abbot, who made a million dollars in small bets before his fellow monks caught up with him.

Besides, it's dangerous to go in alone. The sheer concentratedness of History, sleeting past soundlessly out into the world, can be overwhelming. Time is a drug. Too much of it kills you.

The 493rd Abbot folded his wrinkled hands and addressed Lu-Tze, one of his most senior monks. The clear air and untroubled life of the secret valley was such that all the monks were senior; besides, when you work with Time every day, some of it tends to rub off.

"The place is Omnia," said the abbot, "on the Klatchian coast."

"I remember," said Lu-Tze. "Young fellow called Ossory, wasn't there?"

"Things must be . . . carefully observed," said the abbot. "There are pressures. Free will, predestination . . . the power of symbols . . . turning-point . . . you know all about this."

"Haven't been to Omnia for, oh, must be seven hundred years," said Lu-Tze. "Dry place. Shouldn't think there's a ton of good soil in the whole country, either."

"Off you go, then," said the abbot.

"I shall take my mountains," said Lu-Tze. "The climate will be good for them."

Small Gods. Copyright © by Terry Pratchett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

TERRY PRATCHETT is one of the most popular authors writing today. He lives behind a keyboard in Wiltshire and says he 'doesn't want to get a life, because it feels as though he's trying to lead three already'. He was appointed OBE in 1998. He is the author of the phenomenally successful Discworld series and his trilogy for young readers, The Bromeliad, is scheduled to be adapted into a spectacular animated movie. His first Discworld novel for children, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, was awarded the 2001 Carnegie Medal.

Brief Biography

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1948
Place of Birth:
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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Small Gods (Discworld Series) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 75 reviews.
Megan Treloar More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books. Period. It's Pratchett at his witty satirical, philosophical height. Belly laughs and brilliance. Read it. You won't regret it.
MidnightReign More than 1 year ago
I'm not going to ruin it by describing the plot or the characters in this review. Suffice it to say, this book goes into my mental file folder under "Greatest Books Ever", due to its combination of philosophy, comedy, and wordplay. Buy it, read it, enjoy it.
dmboyett More than 1 year ago
What I love about Terry Pratchett’s disc world series is you don’t have to read them in chronological order to enjoy them. Each book is a story unto itself but fitted into the context of that wonderfully quirky place called disc world. Of all those novels my favorite is Small Gods because to me even though it is a satire on conventional religion it is also profoundly theological. Reading it has given me a better understanding of my own religious tradition and its context in this complicated place we call Earth. I would recommend this book to anyone who believes in God, doesn’t believe in God, or addresses their prayers to Whom It May Concern.
seattle1985 More than 1 year ago
The first time I read this book I read through it quickly, and didn't really appreciate it. At that point it was one of my least favorites in the Discworld series. About 2 years later I decided to give it another try. I read it slower and really tried to absorb what was really being said. I can now say this has definitely moved up in my rankings to the top! This whole book( particularly the scene where Brutha is going through the desert and is being courted by all the lost small gods) really brings to mind themes Neil Gaiman later brings to full life in American Gods. (which I also loved!) One has to wonder if he maybe started getting the idea for it from Small Gods. (Terry Pratchett and Gaiman are good freinds, read Good Omens for proof!) Anyway, I would recommend this book to anyone, most definitely.
Guest More than 1 year ago
With lots of sarcasm and wit this book is easily one of my favorite discworld novels. Its a unique view of religion on the Discworld and really helps you to understand just why everyone on the Discworld acts the way they do. My only problem is that I wish Terry Pratchett would write more God books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
On Discworld, a god comes into existance when it is believed in and loses power when it is not believed in. So what do sensible gods do? They live isolated from their subjects, tossing a few lightning bolts and play chess like games with them for entertainment. That is until one of them is left with one simple true believer in a corupt church. Condemed to roam the earth as a turtle, avoiding big birds that smash turtles on rocks, this god learns a lesson in how to be a god. Meanwhile Brutha learns that he is much more than one true believer. That he can make a difference. Funny satire with a point... One true believer can make a difference and restore sanity to both his church and his god.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where the Gods come from? Where do they go? What make them Gods and what determine, just how much Gods they are? Read the 'Small Gods' and you'll make a long step toward the answers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an extended theological discussion enwrapt with metaphor with choice sarcasm thrown in for good measure. Those who read this may appreciate religion with a soft chuckle, then go on with their lives with a bigger bounce in their step.
Anonymous 3 months ago
One of my all time favorite books. One of those you turn to to read for comfort, or long plane rides, or just because. I recommend it to everyone.
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