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Audio Book Review


Small Gods


Author: Terry Pratchett
Read by: Andy Serkis

Publisher: Penguin Random House


Release Date: 28 April 2022

Penguin Random House bring us an unabridged audio book recording of Terry Pratchett's thirteenth novel set in the Discworld universe, 1992's Small Gods. The story is narrated by Andy Serkis, and tackles the delicate subject of religion, which is a competitive business in the Discworld. Everyone has their own opinion and their own gods, of every shape and size - all fighting for faith, followers, and a place at the top. So when the great god Om accidentally manifests himself as a lowly tortoise, stripped of all divine power, it's clear he's become less important than he realised. In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast. Enter Brutha, the Chosen One - or at least the only One available. He wants peace, justice and love - but that's hard to achieve in a world where religion means power, and corruption reigns supreme...

Terry Pratchett's exploration of religion, and all its faults, is unpicked in Small Gods. It's subtle, it's clever and it has the usual sprinkling of Discworld humour. The gods are fine until mankind insists on thinking they know best how to carry out the "wishes" of their gods.

Depending on how many followers a god has, in the Discworld, determines that god's power. The result of this is that there are a lot of very small gods. Some were once powerful and have lost followers, whilst others were never that bothered about gaining followers in the first place. But when the great god Om discovers he's no longer as powerful as he once was, and for some reason he's become a lowly tortoise, he sets about trying to claw his way back up the supreme being ladder. The only person who can help him is a lowly novice called Brutha. Unfortunately Brutha is the only one able to hear Om's voice, but persuading Brutha that a tortoise is a powerful god is just the start of Om's problems.

This audio is narrated by Andy Serkis, who gives each character a different regional accent. At first I thought this a little off putting, but it quickly helps you identify which character is talking, so even the most attention deficit listener should be able to focus on the story without any issue. Bill Nighy and Peter Serafinowicz's appearances feel a little more integrated than they were in Equal Rites. Serafinowicz narrates the part of Death (who crops up a few times) and Nighy reads the footnotes that Pratchett used to include in his novels. There's so few comments, though, that it's almost comical to think of the great Nighy stood in a recording booth just to record his handful of rather pointless lines.

Small Gods is a story that you'll never tire of relistening to. It's well written, wonderfully narrated and even if you've read the book a thousand times Serkis's delivery is worth the price of admission alone.

A smart, witty tale that is self-contained, so you won't need to be familiar with the Discworld universe to get the best out of this.


Darren Rea

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