Small Gods by Terry Pratchett

I must admit that this book was a little uncomfortable initially to read for me personally because the author had chosen to make the central ‘small god’ to be called Om. It looked more like a dig towards the Buddhist side of things and given where it originally comes from, it still felt a little off. Once I got past that and ignored it, it was a fun and slightly profound book in its own way.
There is less subtlety in this than I have encountered in the previous few reprints that I have read in this series. Everything is much more upfront.
Omnians have been conquering the world through underhanded tricks, and the whole process is spearheaded by one man who is bending people’s thoughts. On the temple property is another man, the only one with true devotion, as he is soon to find out. The god ( now a lowly turtle, who everyone thinks would make a good meal in alternating chapters) has now lost all his power due to the lack of true believers, and he wants to rectify the situation. Our main protagonist is a simple person who wants to be left alone with his marvellous picture-perfect memory. It is, unfortunately, an opportunity that cannot be missed. The higher-ups set out on a conquering mission which leads the former to question all that has been beaten into him his whole life. There are a lot of speculations thrown around as well as descriptions which had me giggling. I have collected a few below, which come from the same section in the story since I got too lazy to highlight all the things I found hilarious after that.

“All over the world there were rulers with titles like Exalted, the Supreme….only in one small country was the ruler elected by the people who could remove him whenever they wanted- they called him the Tyrant.”

“The Ephebians believed that every man should have the vote. Provided that he wasn’t poor, foreign nor disqualified by the reason of being mad, frivolous or a woman.”

“Every Five years, someone was elected to be the tyrant, provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible and trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.”

“In front of the barrel, a short man in a toga that must have been white the same way that once all continents must have been joined together was kicking another one who was on the ground.”

It is not a story about nice people. They are all pretty brutal but felt quite entertaining all the same. I loved the conversation that occurs with Death towards the end since it felt more profound than everything I had previously encountered in the story. It is a complex plot, with belief and ideas at the centre of it all. It is not one that I read like the previous ones. There were more contemplations and guesses as to what the author was trying to do/say in any given scene. I am pretty sure that no two people will get exactly the same thing from this book. It felt longer because of it all. The multiple journeys, physical and metaphorical, that several people undertake can serve as a deterrent to swift progression through the narrative.
I would recommend this particular book to anyone who has not invested much in the series before and knows nothing of the background because this feels like a very separate book. Although it is in the Discworld world, none of the internal politics or prior adventures makes an impact on this plot. It is all about the Gods and the schemes that are connected to them.
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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