Mark Reads ‘Small Gods’: Part 8

In the eighth part of Small Gods, Brutha meets Diadactylos, and Vorbis meets a challenge in the Tyrant. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.

I have a theory that there’s going to be a huge and possibly violent confrontation at some point in this novel. Between whom? Well, now that I’ve met the Tyrant, I imagine that the Tyrant and Vorbis are going to clash horribly. But the more Om works to disprove Brutha’s entire religion, the more certain I become that there is going to be a moment where Brutha just… breaks? Where he finally throws it all away and becomes his own person. That doesn’t mean that religion is worthless or that the religion around Om is a disaster. It can be reworked to Brutha’s choosing; he can seek comfort in a god or gods or God however he wishes, and that can be a beautiful thing.

But this god? Brutha’s idea of Om is wrong, and he’s slowly coming to terms with that.

The Tyrant

I have a few things I want to address, but let’s start with the most exciting thing here: the Tyrant of the Ephebians. He starts off as a clever joke about academics (the whole “Ephebians elect someone willingly and then immediately turn on them for being out of touch), but then becomes the first character in Small Gods to OPENLY DEFY VORBIS. Which is endlessly satisfying to me, first of all. Look how quickly he becomes downright hostile to Vorbis:

“I am Deacon Vorbis of the Citadel Quisition,” said Vorbis coldly.

The Tyrant looked up and gave him another lizard smile.

“Yes, I know,” he said. “You torture people for a living. Please be seated, Deacon Vorbis.”

YO, HE DIDN’T EVEN WAIT UNTIL VORBIS SAT DOWN TO ROAST THE HELL OUT OF HIM. And it’s just the start, y’all. Now, I don’t feel the need to quote every biting line or subtle insult (THERE ARE TOO MANY), but I did want to address how amazing it is that the Tyrant exposes Vorbis for the bullshit salesman that he is. In particular, Brutha begins to further doubt what Brother Nhumrod and Deacon Vorbis have told him when it’s revealed that the whole reason for this “war” was a lie. First of all, fuck you, Pratchett, for that PERFECT chain letter joke. I AM NEVER GOING TO GET OVER IT. But that joke is the first chance for someone to say – in public! – that what the Church has stated as reality isn’t true.

The death of Brother Murduck at the hands of the Ephebians features the same problem. Brutha always knew that Murduck was innocent and unarmed and murdered by a bunch of savage infidels. The story he learns from the Tyrant? Murduck was deliberately caustic and insulting to an entire culture, and continued to be so after the crowd had ran out of eggs. And vegetables. Then the stones were thrown. Now, this isn’t me condoning the stoning of someone for expressing a difference of opinion, but I also don’t think that’s quite what happened here. Pratchett is clearly skewering missionaries and their invasive and (at times) violent behavior. Of course the Omnians would view this attack as one on their faith. They see missionaries as an extension of their god. But, again, this is a matter of perspective, and it’s something Brutha is coming to understand. To the Ephebians, Brother Murduck was horrifically offensive.

So how can Brutha rectify this? Liars are supposed to be punished, but it’s the people doing the punishing who are lying. On top of that, Brutha is becoming aware of how his version of reality does not match up with what he’s experiencing and witnessing, and lord, it’s such a challenging thing for him to go through. I feel for Brutha! This isn’t easy.

Actually, I lied. One more thing:

“Slave is an Ephebian word. In Om we have no word for slave,” said Vorbis.

“So I understand,” said the Tyrant. “I imagine that fish have no word for water.”



Oh my god, Didactylos and Urn are so ENTERTAINING. Pratchett has always had a gift for banter, but these two seriously take the cake. They’re ridiculous, argumentative, prone to competitiveness, and brilliantly inventive. Well, successfully inventive every so often. I mean, they do come up with the idea to exploit Om’s ability to understand them in order to hustle people out of money. That’s creative, isn’t it? And I suppose they have to be creative because they’re incredibly poor. We learn here that they’re pretty much at the bottom of the barrel in terms of Ephebian philosophers, unable to sell thinking to anyone without people returning it and asking for their money back. My god, I was so amused by the idea that “thinking” pretty much works like merchandise in any retail store. You can try it on! Return it! Complain about it! Buy it!

And yet, I still don’t know how these two goofballs are going to help Om and Brutha. At all! Sure, Brutha can hire them for some thinking, but where does that thinking lead to?

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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