Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett. Harper, 1989

In ‘Pyramids’, master storyteller and satirist takes on the funeral industry, philosophy, and more. Teppic, heir to the throne of Djelibeybi (which bears more than a passing resemblance to ancient Egypt), has just passed his final exam to become a member of the assassin’s guild in Ankh-Morpork when his father dies in a bit of madness. He returns home to take on his responsibility, for which he is totally unprepared. Even though he is king and considered a god, he finds he has no say in anything at all; because of the high priest, his is merely a ceremonial position. The story is no mere court intrigue, though; the Djelibeybian custom of building a bigger, more impressive pyramid for each kingly generation’s resting spot creates havoc when the new pyramid proves to be so large that it creates a warp in space and time. Teppic, with the aid of a handmaid and Discworld’s greatest mathematician (a camel named You Bastard) must put things to rights before Djelibeybi is destroyed by gods who have suddenly manifested on the physical realm and before war breaks out between the countries on either side of where Djelibeybi used to be.

While certainly amusing (the assassin’s final exam is particularly good), this isn’t one of Pratchett’s stronger stories. It’s disjointed and a lot of things happen that don’t advance the story- the gods becoming physical and apparently witless being one of the worst. The characters aren’t as vivid as in most Pratchett stories. Teppic and Ptraci are likable but not compelling. The best characters are the dead king and Dios, the power mad high priest who turns out to be motivated by good. But still, a not so great story by Terry Pratchett is better than a lot of some authors best stories, so it’s certainly worth the read. 

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