Mark Reads ‘Small Gods’: Part 11

In the eleventh part of Small Gods, HOW IS ALL OF THIS HAPPENING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

There is much to talk about! Let us do it!

Full Brains

I think it’s fair to say that I’m terribly worried about the ramifications of Brutha’s massive act of memorization. It was an ingenuous idea, but how bad is this gonna get? I hadn’t considered that Brutha would now have access to an unreal amount of information but wouldn’t understand what any of it meant. I feel like this is a commentary on his characterization prior to this, something I’d not really thought of before.

Think about it. How long has Brutha been memorizing things? How often is he compelled to memorize long passages and rules and scrolls pertaining to Om? Given how he acts here, doesn’t that mean he was unable to truly understand what he was memorizing prior to this? When I was a kid, I was asked to memorize a lot of things: The Ten Commandments. Bible passages. Psalms. Prayers. I knew them all back to front because I was a dutiful son and an obedient child. I took pride in how well I could recite them. And it wasn’t until I was a teenager and asked to explain the Lord’s prayer that I realized that I couldn’t actually do it.

So how much did Brutha actually understand of the religion he was indoctrinated in? I think I see what you’re doing, Pratchett. I SEE YOU.

The Sea Queen

I’d actually forgot she existed, and that’s sort of the point. Om forgot, too, and thus, she returns to claim what is owed of her for saving Om’s life prior to this. And look, it’s possible that Didactylos and Urn and Simony are okay, but WHAT THE FUCK. Did they explode? Are they dead? Did the Sea Queen have to send the worst storm imaginable to obliterate the Unnamed Boat and its inhabitants? I mean… she wanted a sacrifice, and she got one.


“Where’s Vorbis?” he growled.


“Did he? There’s no justice!”


OH MY GOD, ARE YOU SERIOUS. I mean, let’s first acknowledge how cool it is that Pratchett explains the origins of a ghost ship. If a ship is a living thing, then what happens when one dies along with its crew? Pretty damn awesome, y’all. BUT SERIOUSLY. Vorbis survived??? I immediately knew that the asshole would claim that Om had saved him when that’s hardly the case. Regardless, this felt like such a huge and disruptive plot twist to drop in the middle of the book. But you know why it’s all worth it? This goddamn exchange.

“We should do something… for him.”

“Yes? Maybe you can find a rock and stove his head in,” said Om.

“We can’t just leave him here.”

“Watch us.”

SERIOUSLY, I LOVE OM SO MUCH. And look, I’m not one for cruelty, but I understood why Om said this. At this point, why should anyone do anything for Vorbis ever? But bless Brutha, whose sense of duty and kindness extends to pretty much everyone. I don’t find this to be naïveté, either. I think Brutha is just a good person, you know? At the same time, Brutha now has a purpose, one he understands without memorizing anything: people need to know what Vorbis did. They need to know how he’s lied, how he crafted his own god, and how he forced people to follow him and his bullshit. Oh, and he killed SO MANY PEOPLE.

But I also want to know what this is going to do to Brutha. He has an interesting internal monologue as he carts Vorbis towards Omnia. He thinks about the nature of gods and belief and how one little mistake can canonize a detail into history, like the penguin and the Goddess of Wisdom. To me, that whole section reads like an epiphany, or at least the start of one. It’s Brutha actually applying the knowledge he has instead of reciting it. He’s processing information as he’s never done so before, and understandably, it’s a confusing, jarring thing for him. Well, he’s also DYING OF THIRST and UTTERLY EXHAUSTED and CARRYING HIS MORTAL ENEMY ACROSS THE DESERT. These things matter, too! But as Brutha’s brain jumps from one topic to another in his exhausted state, you can see his belief erode. That does not mean he is becoming an atheist or anything of the sort. The doubt he felt before is morphing into something else, and his experience is helping him to finally be able to understand why he has started doubting.

It’s utterly fascinating.

The original text contains use of the words “dumb,” “idiot,” and “mad.”

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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