Jan Van Quirm wrote:
It's a 'boy' thing mC - and pooh is trying to provoke J-I-B (who dislikes Pyramids a LOT
and swreader isn't too keen either) into a nice little sparring session
*Yawn.* I'm not going to get dragged into THAT old thing again. We all know which is the better book, now, don't we?
I wish I had more to discuss about the plot of book but, alas, it's the only one (other than you-know-what) that I don't own and isn't in my local library so I'll have to re-order it again through the intra-library borrowing system (although Verns is very kindly going to sell me her Kirby cover copy).
When I read it the first time I remember nearly giving it up after the first 10-20 pages or so, which were filled with long abd boring religious discussions and exposition. But once the Brutha and tortoise story picked up, I very much enjoyed the rest of it. Although I have forgotten nearly everything about the big parts of the plot. I did really identify with the central premise that the "power" of a god is totally determined by people's faith in it, rather than any inherent godly power.
The book makes a very strong case for relativism, which, as a militant agnostic I find myself aligning with (I'm not quite arrogant enough to state that 'no higher power' of some kind exists in the universe, since we humans are only able to experience a minuscule sense of what is probably really out there). After all, we westerners tend to view the world as ruled by monotheistic faiths when, in truth, at least half of the world's populatation worship deities other than Jehovah, Jesus or Allah.
In terms of its place in the DW pantheon, I think that SG is the true "transitional" book in the series and represents a huge step forward in Pterry's literary development. It's the first book where PTerry really seems to be fully interested in exploring larger themes that will become embedded in the culture and history of DW.
Look at where it sits in the publication order. By this time he had already written at least book in each of the main series, and most of this straight "parody" books were behind him. Guards! Guards! and first two witches books may have begun to establish some elements of the deeper Ankh-Morpork and Lancre/witch mythologies, but they were still mostly plot-and-parody driven, rather than character-and-culture driven.
In SG, you can see here that he really wanted to go beyond what could have been a broad, "Life of Brian" like parody of religion into something quite deeper and more profound. Even though the first 20 pages drag, it's quite that he felt it necessary to create a deep and plausible portrayal of the corrupt religious apple cart Brutha was destined to overturn.
I can speculate that completing SG convinced PTerry that he was capable of doing far more with DW than using it as a setting for cultural parodies, and rather self-consciously decided that he should use his literary powers to create a long-lasting cultural and mythological history of DW where events in one book influenced those in other books and where he could continue to explore themes such as belief, superstition, and the very nature of humanity (and the universe) itself.
If you need proof of this, just read the rather awkward preface to his next book and one of his true masterpieces, Lords and Ladies, where he recommends that readers read the first two witches books to get context. And then he goes on to take some of the themes of SG to create a profound allegory into the dangers of superstition and clouded thinking, while adding layers of depth to Granny and Nanny (and, arguably, Magrat) that were only hinted at in the previous books.
With the exception of the few straight 'comic/parody' books (like the two Rincewind books and Maskerade), nearly every book that came after SG demonstrates stronger characterization, deeper intellectual thinking, and a more mature literary style than those that were published before it.