Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

Second paragraph of third section:

Which meant that the time of the 8th Prophet was imminent.

It is years since I last read this, but I remembered it as one of my favourite Pratchett novels and approached with some caution, lest I find out (as I sometimes do) that a thing I once loved has been visited by the Suck Fairy when I was not looking. But, whew, it’s still brilliant, and still I think my favourite Pratchett novel.

It’s not just that the satire is richly detailed, and lands some good blows on both sides of the religion debate (although more on one side than the other). It’s the relationship between the acolyte Brutha and the tortoise-incarnate god Om, which has both of them changing and maturing to become better beings. I cannot think of another Pratchett novel which has such an attractive narrative arc for two central characters. Love, whether ἔρως or φιλία, was a theme that he tended to shy away from, but he does it very well here.

On top of that there are the little touches which I still find hilarious after all these years – the Pointless Albatross; the god-eat-god world out there; the philosophers; the wrong sort of ash; the fate of the tortoise. I loved this book when I first read it, probably thirty years ago soon after it was published, and I love it now. You can get it here.

Small Gods was my top unreviewed Discworld book; next on that pile is Night Watch.

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