Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

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Pyramids Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 03, 2010 11:23 pm

Yes, I know it's a bit early - but not if you live in the future like Pooh does and as he kindly offered to write the introduction, I thought - what the hell! :wink:
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**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Pyramids in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1989

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When young Prince Teppicymon is sent for an education at the Assassins’ School in Ankh-Morpork, his education includes more than just how to kill people. He learns about mattresses and plumbing, but he also learns how much his own country has remained unchanged for thousands of years. When his father dies and he returns, determined to make changes, he runs up against Dios the High Priest, who has ideas of his own.

Then, when an accident of Geometry makes the Kingdom disappear into a different dimention, it is up to King Teppic to make it return and to stop the war between Tsort and Ephebe at the same time. :)
Introduction by poohcarrot

poohcarrot wrote:

As a Monty-Python-loving atheist who likes nothing better than pottering round the ruins of ancient and lost civilisations, and who is not averse to the occasional joint (see my bio on the Twerps Peerage thread), how would it be possible for me NOT like this book? :?

Apart from giving us further insights into the workings of Ankh-Morpork, Pyramids parodies the ancient civilisations of Greece and Egypt, while at the same time slamming religion and posing a theological mind-bomb of a question of awesome proportions. This is all done in a brilliantly illogical Pythonesque style of humour.

Slapstick humour? Hardly! I mean, to understand just one of the jokes on the very first page, it requires knowledge of astro-physics! And the parody of Zeno's Hercules/tortoise paradox is nothing short of genius. :shock:

I personally rate Pyramids as TP's funniest book. And along with Small Gods and Nation, as one of TP's three most anti-religion novels to date.

To me, anyone who doesn't like Pyramids simply just doesn't get it. Maybe the humour is too British, too erudite, or simply too oblique? Maybe references to British confectionery, the British Driving Test, Tom Brown's Schooldays and an old British kids TV programme are lost on non-Brits? Maybe people just don't understand the jokes about Oedipus, the Old Testament, Greek philosophers, Egyptian Gods, the founding of Rome, the evolution of stars, or Einstein's theory of relativity? Maybe it's because the humour isn't slapstick and actually needs some thought? I honestly don't know.

To cap it all off from my point of view, Pyramids also condones the use of cannabis. What more could I want? :P

But this is all just my opinion. What do you think?

(Pyramids trivia question. Who pretends to be a gargoyle?)


Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Wyrd Sister)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:44 am

2nd INTRODUCTION

It's quite possible that all of you have one book, which because of personal circumstances, you believe could well have been written just for you. For me, Pyramids is that book.

In 1990 I spent 4 months in Egypt (mainly in the Sinai) with my girlfriend of the time. We did lots of scuba diving, went on 5 day camel treks in the desert, hiked to the top of Mt Sinai to watch the desert sunrise, and spent many a happy hour smokin' and jokin' with the wonderfully friendly Bedouin.

One of the most memorable times of my life. :D

Upon return to the UK I was browsing in a book shop when my attention was drawn to a book called Pyramids written by some guy called Gerry Pilchard (or something like that!). An author I'd never heard of before. I immediately fell in love with the Josh Kirby cover - there was a camel (my favourite animal), Pyramids (I'd recently seen) and a cartoon woman who bore a striking resemblence to my girlfiend. To seal the deal, I bet you'll never guess in a million years what my girlfriend's name was! (starts with "Tr" and ends with "y").

I had to buy it. :D

On reading it I was absolutely amazed. As a lifelong disciple of Monty Python, I couldn't believe that this book hadn't been written by a Python member. The humour was just as intelligent, just as illogically brilliant, and just as laugh-out-loud absurd.

My Discworld addiction was born. :D

For me, Pyramids will always make me laugh, always remind me of my time in the Sinai, always remind me of a woman I once loved AND was my introduction to Discworld.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:28 am

Trudy? :? :lol:

Joking aside - Pratchett's books appeal to so many people for many different reasons and on many different levels. I have to say that Pyramids is not and never has been, one of my favourites, but I can see why others would like it so much.

One of my biggest problems has always been that I was enjoying the Assassins' Guild bits so much that I was kind of disappointed when we were wrenched back to Djelibeybi.

This was Terry's seventh book in the Discworld series and we'd only had tantalising glimpses of Ankh-Morpork. The city obviously made a big impression on young Teppic and I, as a reader, wanted to see more. Thankfully, Terry obliged in the next book, Guards! Guards!

On this reading, I could really see the theme of stagnation that Terry is exploring. Djelibeybi never changed. Not only did it have a City of the Dead, but the rest of the Kingdom was pretty dead too. Teppic's view of the vibrant and ever changing city of A-M must have come as a real revelation to him. To go back to his own country and find that it was impossible to change it, comes across as being frustrating and very soon Teppic seems to fall under the power of the stagnation of the country.

So, I got more out of it on this reading, but it still doesn't rate highly in my favourite DW books - sorry Pooh. :(

Edit for stupid mistake. :evil:
Last edited by Tonyblack on Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:14 am

There's a painting hanging in the Louvre showing Noah and 4 strange looking creatures. These creatures are called "Tastes". When Noah counts them and sees there are 4, he says only 2 can come on board the Ark. The strange creatures refuse to be split up, and choose death by drowning in the flood. These creatures are now extinct.

The painting is called "Noah counting 4 Tastes" :lol:
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:26 am

Tonyblack wrote:So, I got more out of it on this reading, but it still does rate highly in my favourite DW books - sorry Pooh. :(


You don't have to apologise for saying it's one of your favourite DW books. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Sjoerd3000 » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:59 am

Mericet was pretending to be a gargoyle during the test :wink:

This was the first time I read it in English and I enjoyed it enormously :D I agree that the beginning is epic but for me the rest of the book is even more so :D The Philopsophers and the tortoises, the sfinx, the war between Tsort and Ephebe with the wooden horses the Sun gods playing a game of football with the sun and of course You B*sterd all made me :lol: and I think I have to change my top 5 Discworld books because this novel belongs in it :D
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:12 pm

Talking about sun gods, the ancient Egyptians believed the sun was pushed by a giant dung beetle, hence the line early on;

”Some people think a giant dung beetle pushes it” :lol:
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:23 pm

Tonyblack wrote:On this reading, I could really see the theme of stagnation that Terry is exploring. Djelibeybi never changed. Not only did it have a City of the Dead, but the rest of the Kingdom was pretty dead too. To go back to his own country and find that it was impossible to change it, comes across as being frustrating and very soon Teppic seems to fall under the power of the stagnation of the country.


Exactly the same theme of Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister (which finished in 1988 probably while TP was writing this book). Every time I re-read Pyramids I think of Dios as Sir Humphry Appleby and King Teppic as Jim Hacker. :D
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:00 pm

I agree this book is very funny. I didn't have time to reread it though, so I perhaps won't join in much. I'm also an atheist, although I didn't really give it much thought whilst I was reading it, probably because I don't see the main theme as being on of the wrongness of religion as a whole. I see it as the stagnation that's already been mentioned.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:04 pm

I'll come to the anti-religion bit later, complete with quotes and page numbers for you Dotsie. :P
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:10 pm

:roll: Fine, but for now I'll stand by what I said. I don't see the main theme as being the wrongness of religion as a whole. Said it again! :D
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:16 pm

So how come you could pick up on the one anti-religion line in Unseen Academicals, yet zero in Pyramids? :?
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:08 pm

Which was the UA one? Can't remember it. Have to read that one again.
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:49 pm

Very interesting Pooh!

I have to say I see Dios as a lot more sinister than Humphrey Appleby, rereading it that section of the book made me think of totalitarian regimes with the way everything Teppic said is reinterpreted - whats teh Kafka book where the guy is arrested and never told what for - "The Trial"? (Maybe I need to listen to yes minister more seriously next time)

On the religion side I'll need convincing its really anti religion seems more a case of be careful what you believe though the line when someone asks where the priests are and is told they're throwing each other in the river is a pricless depiction of organised religion's reaction to crisis

ok time to stop thinking aloud
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:00 pm

As far as the religion goes - I think that Pyramids is the first book in the series where Terry starts to explore the nature of belief. The idea that gods are created by Man through belief. The reason Teppic and his father are gods is because the people believe they are. Similarly, the bizarre gods are called into existance because people believe that's what they look like.

But having said that - this is a subject that is far, far better developed in Small Gods. In many ways I see Pyramids as a sort of prototype for Small Gods and maybe some of the other later books. I don't think terry really gets to grips with the idea properly in Pyramids. :)
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