Having read the “Wee Free Men” series by Terry Pratchett, which I enjoyed thoroughly, and one Discworld one-shot, I decided to read another of his books that’s more part of the main Discworld mythology. This one seemed recommended by many readers, as a good way to get a handle on Discworld. And, as it involves and explains the many gods of the series, it succeeded in that.
At first I found it not too engaging, though, as none of the characters appealed to me. The story takes place in Omnia, largely in a great city devoted to the worship of their god Om. But we soon find that god has fallen very low. He’s stuck in the body of an ordinary tortoise, and only one person can hear his voice: a simple-minded acolyte named Brutha. As it turns out, while nominally the god of Omnia, in practice no one really believes in him anymore except simple, faithful Brutha. Om and Brutha begin a long process of trying to change that, and soon find themselves on a visit to the distant land of Ephebe where many gods are worshipped, but more credence is given to philosophers, who are granted all kinds of special treatment. The leader of Omnia’s Inquisition is a nasty and powerful man called Vorbis, and he’s planning to overthrow Ephebe. He soon discovers that Brutha has special powers of memory: he remembers everything he sees and hears, and Vorbis enlists Brutha in his schemes, to the dismay of both Brutha and Om, still in a tortoise, still trying to get some respect.
As the book went on, I began to enjoy the characters of crochety Om and idiot savant Brutha, even as I rooted with them against Vorbis. There are plenty of twists in the plot, and a large amount of Pratchett humor in the book. In all, I enjoyed it, though not as much as others I’ve read.