If you're coming to "Small Gods" from nearly any other Pratchett Series it may fee 'slower'; Pratchett is tackling Organized Religion here, and not in his usual appetizer portions: this is breakfast, lunch, and dinner and it takes a little more time to set the table, but never at the expense of Pratchett's trademark humor, insight, and wit.
I, too, felt this was slow; until I realized it just wasn't as manic as Pratchett's other books.
There are not only no familiar characters here (except the Librarian and Death), but there are fewer characters in general and, for a fair portion of the book there are only two making their way through the desert engaged, for the most part, in conversation.
And this is where Pratchett shows his chops: no dwarfs, no trolls asking "what be a safety catch?" No carnivorous luggage, no zombies, no wizards, no nac mac feegles; yet long after I had finished "Small Gods' I found myself thinking about the characters in this book, how they suffered, changed, and grew, and pondering the story's insights long after I had put space between me and 'Small Gods' with a number of other Pratchett greats.
I listened to 'Small Gods' again, and it was even better. and no less funny.
Come on: Planer as a self-absorbed God trapped in the body of a tortoise? This is a very, very funny book. Through and through. I not only think this is Pratchett at his best, I think this is the place Pratchett most likes to be.
I've probably converted half a dozen literary snobs to Pratchett and "Small Gods" is where I start.
The narrator reads Pratchett like one would read Narnia or the Bible or other book that takes itself seriously, which is not the way one needs to read Pratchett: many lines meant to be ironic or irreverent are read with high-minded seriousness or worse: read earnestly (shudder!).
Character voices are cliched to the point of embarrassment: Nanny Og's has the creaky, wobbly, ancient voice like might be applied by an unimaginative new parent reading aloud the witch's part of Handsel and Gretel (ie: terrible!) Pauses are too long, the audio quality is fuzzy, and overall, it sounds like a recording made by an earnest fourth grader.
This audible book will mislead new Pratchett readers to believe there's nothing special about Pratchett's prose.
Pratchett fans will most likely react like I did: with righteous indignation and a refusal to tolerate the butchering with a yank of the headphones out of the ears.
I was so desperate for a Pratchett story I hadn't already listened to, I forgot to read the reviews. My bad. $35 down the drain.
Any Pratchett book narrated by either Stephen Briggs or Nigel Planer (you will usually prefer whomever you first start with, but both are excellent) is a better choice.
Listening to a book you've already listened to would be a better choice.
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