Mark Reads ‘Small Gods’: Part 12

In the twelfth part of Small Gods, Om begins to panic once Brutha stops believing. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

I love that there are so many contradictions and conflicts within just this singular journey. Om is utterly opposed to returning to Omnia, yet insists on helping Brutha reach there. Brutha’s belief in Om slips as he gets closer than ever to the god. And through it all, we’ve got Vorbis, the one character deserving of the least amount of sympathy and kindness, getting the most of those very things from Brutha. I love that even though Brutha appears to be losing faith – and quickly – that doesn’t mean he suddenly becomes an immoral asshole. Look, Brutha is LITERALLY dying of thirst while crossing this desert, and he most certainly would make it further if he were not lugging a full-grown man with him, but you know what?

He does it anyway.

Along the way, he and Om have a number of vital conversations that address Om’s godhood and the nature of gods in general. It’s been really fascinating to see how Brutha has gotten more comfortable questioning everything around him, and in this specific section, we see how he’s already begun to perceive the world differently. When he asks Om about the Great Gods and Cori Celesti, he’s not doing so in an accusatory tone. He’s asking about them with the inherent acceptance that they do exist. He wants to learn. That’s an entirely different context than the questioning he was doing a couple hundred pages ago, you know? Still, I admit that there’s a slight aggression to Brutha’s tone, though I would never say it’s because he is an aggressive person by nature. I think that Brutha is seeking out the sense in a bunch of nonsense. When Om tries to tell Brutha that philosophers are more like kings and not gods, he knows it’s bullshit. Deep down, he knows this. He might not have formed the proper way of communicating this thought, but he works through it with Om.

Which leads us to this:

He heard Om, slightly peevish, say: “People’ve got to believe in something. Might as well be gods. What else is there?”

Brutha laughed.

“You know,” he said, “I don’t think I believe in anything any more.”

But what does that mean? I get asked that often as a self-identifying atheist. Do I really believe in nothing at all? More or less, I’d say. I can believe in people in terms of trusting them, but I don’t put much stock in anything else. Systems, religions, faiths… none of it works for me. Is this the same sort of path that Brutha is on? I mean, he definitely believes in a god, but just doesn’t know the full extent of it. But believing something is real, like Om, isn’t the same as believing in them. That distinction is important because I think it directly informs what happens next.

I was confused why the small gods chose this moment to assault Om, threatening him with their desire for Brutha. The scene is super creepy, especially since these gods “remnants,” or whatever they are, speak of Brutha as if he is a soul to be claimed. Why? Why do they want him? My guess is that they realize he’s a soul who has lost faith, and they want him as their own. Is this something that happens between gods? Do they fight over believers??? Is there some big, creepy Great God Who Once Was Great coming to get Brutha?

AND HOLY SHIT, THE PEOPLE ON THE UNNAMED BOAT SURVIVED. HOLY. SHIT. (I feel weird using “holy” in this context now.) I honestly thought they were dead, but I’m pleased they’re not, especially since they’re now on a JOURNEY OF REVENGE. They want nothing more than to destroy the Citadel. They don’t believe Brutha survived, and honestly, they don’t really care. They have one goal in mind and enough foolish ambition to actually do something. So while Brutha and Om deal with lions (and I’m sure they’ll be fine), I’ll be patiently awaiting the next update from Urn, Simony, and Didactylos. I do enjoy multiple storylines converging on one place. It’s one of my favorite story devices.

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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