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Discworld #7


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Being trained by the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork did not fit Teppic for the task assigned to him by fate. He inherited the throne of the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi rather earlier than he expected (his father wasn’t too happy about it either), but that was only the beginning of his problems...

341 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1989

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About the author

Terry Pratchett

613 books41.4k followers
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987, he turned to writing full time.

There are over 40 books in the Discworld series, of which four are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal.

A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback - Harper Torch, 2006 - and trade paperback - Harper Paperbacks, 2006).

In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry published Snuff in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004, Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University in 2009, the University of Winchester in 2009, and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution to Public Service.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March 2015.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,667 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,853 followers
June 21, 2020
Conservatives vs progressives was, even in this version of ancient Egypt, a hot topic, and Pratchett ridicules the arguments of antiquated minds by exaggerating their prime goals and authorities in general.

It´s never bad for craftsmen to organize in guilds or unions and if the specialization is something not as mainstream as wood and metalwork, but, let´s say, different forms of working with living material, it gives the whole idea potential for satirizing the strange bureaucracy of the political apparatus. If robbers, assassins, smugglers, prostitutes,… all have their accepted, democratic councils and can influence legislation and jurisdiction, the manifold interests and manipulations that are forming the processes in real life can be shown in a new light.

Madness in the form of prestige buildings, world wonders costing the lives of tens of thousands and more, have such a fascination for humans that we may keep building them forever, no matter what a waste of time, resources, and money it is. Bloody old temples and pyramids, but the modern skyscrapers for which instead endless amounts of standard houses could be built, speak a similar language.

And it doesn´t stop with that, it stays, in Western countries, mostly just metaphorical dirty and gritty, but not in the third world, and in the ancient times nothing could be more fun than sacrificing and killing to ensure that the Gods are happy and willing to help the wise ruler. Who, befitting his rank, needed of course vast amounts of undead zombie servants, mistresses, court jesters, to have a good afterlife. Not to forget all the ones who didn´t already die as slave workers while constructing the monument tourists love to visit today, but were specialists building the treasure chambers and needed special treatments to ensure that they stayed silent and didn´t give away the secret of the exact location or where the Indiana Jones style pitfalls, rolling stones, murder holes, mystical paranormal bioweapons, etc. are hidden. Just as the architects, the soldiers killing the workers and the architects, the soldiers killing the soldiers, difficult to keep track of such things, one ought have a good coordinator. And kill her/him. And his family and friends in the style of ancient Asia until the seventh grade of acquaintance, piling one or two extra layers of corpses onto the dark, poisonous wedding cake of insanity and greed.

Today all is more subtle, politically correct, greenwashed, bigoted, corporate responsible, dishonest, code of conducty, PR fine tuned, state media approved,… but if I see a headquarter of a company, bank, public buildings, seat of governments and ministries, hotels,… I imagine the environmental destruction, neocolonialism, suffering, neoconservatism, neoliberalism, exploitation,… leading to superpowerful states able to construct such useless monuments of oldfashioned thinking of nationality, patriotism, and megalomania.

One of the rare cases that Pratchett uses a bit of theoretical hard science as a plot element, may be a reminiscence of some of his first attempts at writing, including some Sci-Fi ideas. It´s used to show that it may be disillusioning and frustrating to meet the idols of ones´ time, be it different physically manifested ancient deities or possibly stars and politicians nowadays. Exceptions are authors, of course, they are all admirable and epic.

I find this one of the funniest early works, showing that Pratchett trained his muscles enough and is coming closer and closer to ingenuity and unique telling talent. From now on, each book is a total must read, except of the later ones which turn dark and are sometimes so different that it may be difficult to find traces of Pratchetts´early, lighthearted, exceptionally funny, writing in them. And I don´t mean a bit sad or something, I mean depressingly and frustratingly showing the darkest sides of humankind in pictures ineradicable out of the readers´ mind.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:

This one is added to all Pratchettian reviews:
The idea of the dissected motifs rocks, highlighting the main real world inspirational elements of fiction and satire is something usually done with so called higher literature, but a much more interesting field in readable literature, as it offers the joy of reading, subtle criticism, and feeling smart all together.
Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews209 followers
August 5, 2019
So this was close to a 5 star ⭐️ book, but topped out at 4.49 recurring, thus meaning due to the law of fractals and quantum, it rounds down to 4, well that’s all according to ”You Bastard” you understand 😂

More to follow when Jeht, the Boatman of the Solar Orb, rises on the morrow.

So I'm guessing that Thrrp, The Charioteer of the Sun has also been through since I finished the book, but never mind, I'm sure I shall be forgiven if I build a pyramid in my garden.

So this book, is outrageously funny and just such a brilliant observation on human character, from Teppic the new King, through Chidder the assassin to Ptraci the handmaiden, Endos, the listener, Ptaclusp the builder, Dios the head priest and Teppicymon the dead King. But then it is Sir Terry's oh so accurate portrayal of humans that makes his books so poignant and amusing.

This book focuses on the new Kings plans to drag his (small) kingdom into the modern age, with items like plumbing and mattresses. He's learnt about these mod cons by being sent to assassins training school in Ankh Morpk, and on graduation and the death of his father tries to bring these modern ideas back to his kingdom.
Unfortunately he doesn't bank on his "conservative" Head Priest Dios, who lives his life by ritual and regularity and has no time for religion despite believing that Net was the Supreme God, oh as was Hast, Fon, Set, Bin, Sot, Dhek and Ptooie, as well as a host of others. The trouble was the kingdom was a slave to ritual and to a multitude of Gods for every occasion, with many duplicates.
With his father about to be entombed in the mother of all pyramids, calamity strikes and well, you just have to read it to find out how Teppic restores the kingdom and where the greatest living mathematician at the time, the camel, You Bastard fits in !!.

And come to think of it why was it only 4.49 recurring, maybe it was 4.51 ?? Quick send for You Bastard.
Profile Image for Lena.
199 reviews92 followers
April 17, 2022
Clever, funny and amusing. Very familiar and yet fresh. Maybe it's because I like mummies and ancient Egypt, I enjoyed it so much, but parody on gods and religion is very witty.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews985 followers
May 15, 2023
Discworld 7: The story of how Terric becomes an assassin, and then is forced into his inheritance to become the Pharaoh of a small, penniless country engrossed in building a monumental pyramid to honour his dead father. British Science Fiction Award winner - 1989. I am still finding it really hard to see what is so great about this mass selling, mass adored reality. A 3 out of 12, One Star read for me!

2011 read
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
January 5, 2019
Pyramids is Sir Terry Pratchett’s 7th Discworld book and the Pratchett Smile-O-Meter is dancing happily as this is another fun ride with cool Uncle Terry.

This is a blisteringly funny satire on religion, faith and loyalty taking place in the blisteringly hot desert of Discworld in the Old Kingdom of Djelibeybi (which is of course analogous to Egypt in our world).

First published in 1989 and by this time Pratchett’s fame and fortune with the Discworld was established and he mixed things up a bit. The first of the “stand alone” Discworld books, this does not feature many of the standard Discworld characters or themes but Pratchett’s writing is as expected and this is just as funny and as acerbically satirical as any of his other excellent adventures.

Actually, though, this one goes a step further and was almost Vonnegutesque in it’s over the top, tongue-in-cheek attack on blind faith. Pratchett asks some tough questions and the answers are more than just playful spoofery as he demonstrates the bad and the worse of organized religion and the tyranny of traditionalism.

This also delves into some time and quantum elements that are hilariously Pratchett and we meet a very unexpected greatest mathematician in the Discworld.

A must read for Pratchett fans.

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Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
November 11, 2017
I think I may have enjoyed this one a bit more the second time around, but not enough to change my rating. :) Indeed, I had a lot more fun with all the quantum irregularities surrounding the Pyramids out in the boonies of Discworld.

There's a lot of great ribbing for conspiracy theorists who go on and on about the dimensions of the real pyramids and the mystical importance, even going so far as to make these monuments (at least here) into time-recyclers. It's very funny and Death isn't pleased. Fortunately for Death, however, what he doesn't know won't kill him.

It was also rather funny seeing a "handmaid" who'd never "serviced" a king and an "assassin" who'd never killed anyone fumble around their conversations with one another.

But really, I think I had the most fun with the camels. They were a very nice touch. I always thought there was something of a math genius in all of them. Quantum accounting aside, I thought this was a very interesting and funny novel, giving us a nice background for the Assassin's guild while not precisely overburdening us (at all) with characters we'll grow to love later.

That being said, I had a good time and probably a bit more than the other one-off Discworld novels that came before it. :)
Profile Image for Ms. Smartarse.
604 reviews260 followers
March 29, 2019
The desert kingdom of Djelibeybi is THE country to get yourself the ultimate eternal resting place. Boasting a history of thousands of years, its kings and queens had ample time to pepper the shore of the river Djel with pyramids of various sizes. Of course, such an endeavor is not exactly cheap and unsurprisingly, the entire kingdom is neck deep in debt.

It is now up to 12-year-old crown prince Pteppic to save the country. He was signed up at the prestigious Assassin's Guild in far off Ankh Morpork, to become a certified assassin... provided of course, he can survive the grueling training.

So broke

Pyramids had a lot of potential as a concept, and to his credit, sir Terry Pratchett really tried to cover as much of Egyptian history and customs as possible... and therein lies the problem.

The first part (my favorite) mainly covers Pteppic's assassin training. We learn a lot about the customs of the Assassins' Guild, about the type of people who'd enlist for training, not to mention the extremely difficult graduation exam. So an excellent treat for anyone wishing for Discworld world-building.

The second part focuses on Pteppic's life back in Djelibeybi, as he tries to adapt (again) to life at home, sans the modern comforts of Ankh Morpork... such as plumbing. I was torn between humor and genuine sadness when he finds out just how powerless a king is in his country.

Pteppic: assassin and phraraoh

The third and final part details the supernatural adventures of Pteppic and Ptracy, while trying to save the kingdom, from all its legends and beliefs. This was the place where my patience became rather thin, and my close-to-non-existent attention span began to take a hike.

Teppic, Ptracy and You Bastard - the camel

Sore: 3/5 stars

A very good starting point, but lost in a much too convoluted storyline.

For those of you hoping to encounter one of your favorite Discworld characters, choose another book... unless you're happy with a minor guest appearance from Death.
In theory, there should be something for almost everyone in this book. Cramming ancient Mythology, History and Mathematics in less 350 pages, is not the best way to go about it, though.
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books185 followers
February 7, 2017
Terry Pratchett takes the mick out of ancient Egyptians, hilarity follows


Pyramids gets a solid 4 star rating. I rarely have a physical reaction when I'm reading but I was chuckling on the train to this one…hopefully not too loudly! This has turned me from a fan to a Pratchett fanboy.


Pyramids uses a fairly straight forward structure. It's linear and focuses, mainly, on Teppic our main character. The paragraphs are nice and short in the main. It also includes the nice little footnotes that Pratchett uses in most of his works. All in all, a very easy book to read.


Teppic is one of the better characters I've come across in the Discworld. There are funny moments littered throughout and I did end up feeling sorry for him throughout this book. And that's the holy grail when writing characters isn't it, make me feel for them. Pratchett certainly does so here.

There isn't a huge amount of character development, Teppic’s arc is good, but considering the type of book this is there is no need to have a hugely meaningful and introspective dive into the character.

The side characters are all well formed. I loved Teppicymon when he was a ghost commenting how silly all the pyramid nonsense was.


This is where Pratchett thrives, in his writing. If you laid out any two or three sentences and asked me to identify it's owner, it would be easy to spot Pratchett’s work. It's simply beautiful. Here's a few of my favourites:

Mere animals couldn’t possibly manage to act like this. You need to be a human being to be really stupid.

‘In layman’s terms,’ the doctor sniffed, ‘he’s as dead as a doornail.’ ‘What are the complications?’ The doctor looked shifty. ‘He’s still breathing,’ he said. <><><>‘Well, what can you do about it?’ said Arthur. ‘Nothing. He’s dead. All the medical tests prove it. So, er … bury him, keep him nice and cool, and tell him to come and see me next week. In daylight, for preference.’

He also gets brownie points for using the word inhume to describe assassination.


I didn't spot any errors within. My only minor complaint came with the end where it got a little confused and jumped to different povs almost from paragraph to paragraph which meant I found myself having to back track just to keep up. As I said though, fairly minor.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews32 followers
July 20, 2019
Pyramids (Discworld, #7), Terry Pratchett
Pyramids is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, published in 1989, the seventh book in his Discworld series. The main character of Pyramids is Pteppic, the crown prince of the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi, the Discworld counterpart to Ancient Egypt. Young Pteppic has been in training at the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork for several years. The day after passing his final exam he mystically senses that his father has died and that he must return home.
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیستم ماه جولای سال 2017 میلادی
عنوان: مجموعه جهان صفحه - کتاب 07 - اهرام؛ نویسنده: تری پرتچت (پراچت)؛ مترجم: محمد حسینی مقدم؛ تهران، ویدا، 1395؛ در 469 ص؛ شابک: 9786002911834؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 20 م
ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews331 followers
April 21, 2014
When I think about the Discworld series I instinctively want to give them all 5 stars, they (via Sir Pratchett) provide such a huge amount of entertainment, fire such delights of imagination and offer much food for thought on any number of subjects both Big and small and yet as I run through the audio books in an attempts to stem the flowing tide of flabby bits about my middle I find myself unable to truthfully say that every entry is worthy of that ultimate rating. Pyramids is one such title, it is a fabulously funny book, loaded with memorable moments, classic Pratchett characters and his trademark dismantling of every day absurdities in our own reality via his fantastical world, in this instance religion, and yet it doesn't quite cause me to explode with enthusiasm for it as Mort or Wyrd Sisters did previously and I expect Guards! Guards! to do next.

"What's lacking?" I hear you scream and the answer is that I honestly couldn't tell you, if I knew that I'd probably be a poor struggling book editor/publisher instead of a comfortable house husband with a lifetime of renovations with a cold beer in my hand to look forward to. The teenage years of Teppic is our first real look at the inner workings of that most illustrious of Ankh-Morpork guilds, the Assassins and Pratchett pretty much nails it first time, creating a believable and fascinating world within the city within the world and if anything there isn't ENOUGH attention paid to it. The Kingdom of Djelibeybi (potentially a silly joke but one that seems to work and make me smile every time, especially in audio book!) with its ancient customs and giant pyramids is a minefield of clever puns, and religious satire and the overall plot is one that is both completely obvious from the outset and yet the path to enlightenment is littered with detours through crocodile infested rivers and camel laden deserts so that you can easily forget that you know how things will end.

Considering the humble beginnings of this series Pratchett has very quickly spread his wings and in doing so the scope of the Disc has opened up enormously in just a few short novels. It's really quite remarkable the changes in style and content and already by book seven there's nobody else quite like him or likely ever will be again.
Profile Image for Daria.
425 reviews261 followers
February 10, 2023
як завжди добре, як завжди важко запам'ятати чим все закінчилося.
Profile Image for Trish.
2,017 reviews3,436 followers
November 9, 2017
This seventh Discworld novel is, for once, divided into three parts.

The first part, The Book of Going Forth, tells the story of the main character Pteppic (I'm reminded of the German word Teppich, which means carpet). He is the son of the ruler of the desert-country of Djelibeybi (the Discworld equivalent of Egypt) but because his mother insisted on a foreign education before her death, he spent most of his years at Ankh-Morpork's Assassin's Guild.
The second part, The Book of the Dead, takes the reader and Pteppic back to Pteppic's home country after his father's death, where he become's the new king (pharaoh). We learn about Djelibeybi's culture and beliefs.
The third and final part, The Book of the New Son, details Pteppic's and Ptraci's quest to undo the problems from the gigantic pyramid and putting everything back in order.
The story itself was not as laugh-out-loud funny as the ones about the witches or Death, but the very sarcastic and ironic view on Egyptology (culture and mythology of Ancient Egypt) was immense fun nonetheless - I suppose because I always liked anything to do with Ancient Egypt so much.
Naturally, since this is Terry Pratchett, he also talks about all manner of other topics from religion and the power of belief to tradition vs. reform, antique and modern concepts, the role of women in all of that (although only lightly here) and education in all its forms.

What stands out here is the amount of clever puns and twists on well-known stories from our world. The puns are not only used to explain phenomena on the Discworld but are even used as names of characters (like IIb which spells as "to be" and is the name of the eldest son of Ptaclusp, who is of course destined to become his father's successor - his younger brother is called IIa).
So while the book has a straight-forward story, as usual for Pratchett's Discworld, it's more about what the story is used to explore in the author's trademark humour, which isn't for everyone but I love it.
Profile Image for Wanda Pedersen.
1,923 reviews386 followers
March 15, 2023
The camel, You Bastard, is worth the price of admission in this Discworld novel. I loved that Pratchett conceived of his camels being the mathematical geniuses of that world. Apparently, with no fingers to hold back their counting and great boredom on long desert treks, there was time and incentive to develop mathematical expertise.

Add to that the details that fascinate us all about Ancient Egypt. We all picture pyramids, hieroglyphics, gods, priests, and the Pharaoh, and Pratchett provides them all, but from his own hilarious perspective. He manages to comment on the need to keep up with societal changes and how new politicians can get weighed down under the trappings of tradition, handicapping their attempts to modernize.

I already have the next Discworld book in hand, ready for another romp.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
680 reviews307 followers
March 16, 2020
Necesitaba un libro que no perteneciese a ninguna saga ni fuese demasiado difícil de leer. Después de mucho pensarlo, me acordé de la “Piromides” de Terry Prachett. Sí, es cierto Prachett es un autor que puede leerse de tres maneras: siguiendo un orden cronológico, comenzando por el primer libro “El color de la magia- La luz Fantastica-ritos iguales…etc”; una segunda que es por la que opto yo por sagas “Brujas, magos, guardias, muerte…; y finalmente una tercera que es leer los libros en el orden que quieras porque no hay riesgo de spoiler.

Este libro en cuestión pertenece a la saga de las “antiguas civilizaciones” sin embargo no tiene un enlace directo con otras de las sagas ni con el siguiente libro por lo que me dispuse a ello. La premisa no era mala, típico libro de Prachett, me dije a mi misma: conociéndote seguro que te ríes por alguna tontería.

Al terminarlo me quedé como cuando empecé. No puedo decir que me haya encantado, simplemente me gustó, me pasó lo mismo con “Soul Music”. Considero que Prachett tiene mejores obras ( desde mi punto de vista) pero a pesar de todo no deja de ser un mal libro.
Profile Image for Alberto Delgado.
597 reviews107 followers
September 19, 2020
Siempre que leo un libro de Pratchett termino con la sensación que ha merecido la pena aunque en esta ocasión no sea para mi lo mejor que llevo leído del Mundodisco. Se agradece en estos tiempos leer un libro que te evade de la triste realidad que vivimos en este 2020 y consigue sacarte una sonrisa aunque este sea en mi opinión el menos cómico de los primeros 7 pero solo por haber descubierto a ese camello de nombre Maldito Bastardo merece la pena leerlo. El mayor problema de esta entrega es que no he sentido que estaba leyendo un libro del mundodisco y es que Prachett inicia el libro con el futuro faraón matriculado en la escuela de asesinos de Ankh Morpork y justo al conseguir su titulación tiene que volver a su país para ocupar el trono tras la muerte del padre y a partir de ahí asistimos a una disparatada aventura en el antiguo Egipto con nombre cambiado . Creo que el propio Pratchett debió tener la misma sensación y por eso esta línea dentro del mundodisco no fue continuada con posteriores entregas y se quedó cerrada aquí.
Profile Image for David Sarkies.
1,813 reviews316 followers
May 16, 2016
And the gods go crazy
24 November 2012

I am really glad that I decided to reread a the Discworld novels to give them a better commentary as I have found that I have been quite enjoying them, and in many ways they have been getting better and better. However, this is the second to last one that I read (and it seems that I may have originally read them in order of publication, since the last one I read was Guards, Guards, and that is sitting next to me waiting to be reread very soon). Pratchett seems to have tried another experiment in this one where he has created a number of new characters and a new setting, though like the other Discworld novels Anhk-Morpork does play a role.

In this story we travel to the kingdom of Djelibeybi (pronounced Jellybaby) which sits on the river Djel. It is very clear that this kingdom is based on Ancient Egypt, and it is nestled between the nations of Tsort and Ephebe (which is supposed to be Greece, right down to their drunken symposiums). The thing about Djelibeybi is that it is a kingdom where tradition rules, to the point that it is impossible for the king to actually break with tradition. However, the king is not actually the ruler but rather the priests, and in particular the priest Dios.

I really don't want to give too much away but Dios is actually one of Pratchett's most memorable characters. The reason being is that despite being the antagonist of the novel, he does not come across as being either bad or misguided. He simply does things the way that things have always been done. He is a man of tradition, and tradition must be followed. As mentioned, he is the actual ruler of the kingdom, though he never actually says that, simply because he is the one who advises the king, and interprets what he says. In fact it is very clear that the subjects never actually listen to the king, but rather to him, so that when the king tries to change tradition, Dios will always interpret the words as sticking with tradition ('I shall set him free,' says the king, as which Dios interprets as being 'throw him to the crocodiles').

The problem arose when the previous king decided that he wanted his son to have a good education, and normally that would simply mean being taught by the priest, specifically Dios. Instead the king sent his son, the protagonist of the piece, to the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork. As it turns out, the Assassin's Guild actually provides probably the best well rounded education on Discworld, and the comments about the assassins are actually quite good as well. An assassin does not murder for any other reason than money, and it is not that life is cheap, on the contrary, it is actually very expensive, especially if you get an assassin to kill somebody.

Interesting concept though, because in reality that is true. It doesn't cost you much, in fact, it doesn't cost you anything, to be dead. You simply lie there and rot. However, to live, it costs you quite a lot of money ($35.00 AU per day, which includes rent and bills, public transport, groceries, health insurance, and a mobile phone). Moreso, it costs you an awful lot of money to actually stay alive and to keep on living. Hmm, I could actually do the sums, and work out how much it actually costs to live for one day, but I won't. Anyway, if you like maths, and like the idea of maths being turn on its head, you will like this book as well. As it turns out camels are the greatest mathematicians in the world (which I disagree with because it actually turns out that it is cats who are the world's greatest mathematicians - I remember having a dream back in 1994, before I had read this book, where I came to the realisation that my sister's cat, Twinkle, understood imaginary numbers and calculus, however had no reason to actually use it).

Cat Mathematician

One of the interesting things about this book is the concept of belief, and it is something that I come across again and again in my Christian walk. Simply because you believe something does not make it true. I may believe that a plane will get me from Melbourne to Hong Kong, but no amount of belief is going to actually stop the engine from blowing up over the South China Sea. This idea is explored in this story, particularly with the idea that the kings of Djelibeybi believed that after death they would travel to the netherworld. This was a really strong belief that turned out to be wrong. Instead, they spent eternity as ghosts stuck in their pyramids.

The absurdity of belief comes to the fore when the entire kingdom collapses in on itself. Basically it has been said by the gods (namely Dios) that the late king would be buried in the greatest and biggest pyramid ever built, however pyramids have a habit of storing time, and the stored time must discharged regularly. Unfortuantely this pyramid was so big that it ended up throwing everything out of whack, causing Djelibeybi to be sucked into its own dimension where all of the belief became reality. As such, the gods, who only existed in the mind of Dios, became real, to the point that the five sun gods ended up playing soccer with the sun (to produce a very amusing sporting commentary), and the gods, who had no real personality or character, simply went around destroying the kingdom because they had nothing else to do.

I guess this is one of this things that I at least got out of this book: how we tend to prefer to listen to another person's interpretation of faith than actually finding out for ourselves. I have even experienced it where a priest will actually twist the words of a religious book around so that it says the complete opposite. It is not so much the priests that are the problem, but rather us, who are allowing ourselves to listen to the priests and not actually think for ourselves. Granted, many priests do not allow their interpretations to be questioned, and have studied their respective texts for so long that they are experts in interpreting it in their own way. However, the Bible was written in Koine Greek for a reason, and that was so that it could be read and understood by the common person of the day, rather than having it interpreted through a priestly cache. That was why Jesus was such a revolutionary, because his teachings took the power out of the hands of the priests and gave it back to where it rightfully belonged, and that was with God. However it is a shame that we as humans always seem to allow the priests to step in between us and God, to continue to twist his words around to suit their own selfish purposes.
Profile Image for Celise.
505 reviews318 followers
July 4, 2017
"People needed to believe in gods, if only because it was so hard to believe in people."

Here's one for the history buffs. Anyone who's familiar with the Trojan War or has an interest in Ancient Egypt and Greece would probably get a kick out of this. So many good references. In case that doesn't interest you, there are also some assassins and some camels who are very good at math.

I didn't enjoy this one as much as I had expected to. I think it just felt too long (for a Pratchett novel) and there were too many tangents. Still, three stars on a Discworld novel is equivalent to what I would rate four stars on something else. He sets his own bar pretty high.
Profile Image for Kerri.
989 reviews368 followers
September 27, 2021
I love reading this series, but I am not enjoying trying to write reviews for them, basically because while the books have variety, humour and wonderful insights into life, my reviews all boil down the same points:
-Terry Pratchett is brilliant
-I find the books frequently funny, often hilarious
-I highly recommend them, unless you dislike Terry Pratchett, in which case I don't, for obvious reasons
-I enjoyed this book, and the ones that came before it, and look forward to the next in the series

Maybe I'll have an easier time articulating my thoughts in the future, especially if I end up rereading the series in the future -- and at this point I'm pretty sure I will.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,594 followers
September 25, 2015
Oooo, i needed that!!!! Just as exquisite and funny and inelegant as i needed it to be!!!! i LOVE this author!!!
Profile Image for Андрій Гулкевич.
Author 6 books43 followers
April 7, 2022
Перша прочитана книга з 24.02.22. Дивний досвід, спроба повернутися до минулих днів. Напевно події останнього місяця вплинули на таку оцінку роману. Наразі написати відгук складно.
Profile Image for Beth.
980 reviews120 followers
March 4, 2021
Thus continues my weary slog through the early volumes of Discworld. As I go along, it is less and less surprising to me that my first attempt at reading this series in order 25 years ago fell to pieces less than ten books in. This volume is set in crypto-ancient Egypt and Greece. It never made its way to becoming the start of one of Pratchett's several series-within-series (i.e. Death, the Watch), although there is at least one element--the assassin's school and guild--that continues into future volumes.

I sense a proto-Small Gods or Hogfather in some occasional ponderings on belief. During part of the story, legendary figures such as gods come to perceptible life. Believing that a monstrous dung beetle rolls the sun across the sky is quite a different thing than a literal, actual monstrous dung beetle rolling the sun across the sky. Especially when it's in competition with a charioteer, and other mythological conceptions about the sun.

Other than that point of interest, you've got the most stereotypical imagery that one can imagine when given "ancient Egypt" or "Ancient Greece" for a base--olives, grapes, handmaidens, camels, mummies, gods with animal heads, pyramids with mystical powers, etc. etc.

Though all the characters, unsurprisingly, feel British at their core. You've got the rather naïve protagonist dragged around by circumstance, who also somehow also causes revolutionary change in his society. The pragmatic, sexy girl. A wily, hidebound head priest. Swathes of one-note supporting characters, 99.5% of whom are male. Maybe reading Cranford in tandem made the biases of this book stand out more, but come on. There is only one central character who's a woman, and maybe two very minor female characters in the whole thing, and otherwise it's wall-to-wall dudes.

This was a slow-as-molasses read that I never greatly enjoyed while reading, and never felt excited to pick back up again. It isn't terrible in the way that Eric was, but there's nowhere near enough good in it to counterbalance how tedious it is. Admittedly, the last half went much quicker than the first, and it all comes together decently. But I'm very glad to have it behind me so I can say I've done my duty by it... and can now bid it farewell forever. Like the aforementioned Eric, and Sourcery, it's worth reading only to say you've read them all, in my opinion. I am looking forward to Small Gods, and to Reaper Man which I'll be reading for the third time, because it's actually good!
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,275 reviews228 followers
December 17, 2017
Back to the Pratchett reread with the SpecFic Buddy Reads group. I skipped Wyrd Sisters because I've only recently reread it, but now I'm back on the main thread of the read. This is at least my third read of this (and probably more; I can remember when there were only ten or so Discworld books and I would read a selection of them every year).

Pteppic (Teppic) is the crown prince of the Old Kingdom of Djelibeybi and has been studying abroad in Ankh-Morpork with the Assassin's Guild when his father King Teppicymon XXVII dies. As he starts manifesting the powers of the God of his Kingdom he quickly returns only to find that the King doesn't get to do or decide very much with the High Priest Dios interpreting everything he says. But then he commits the Kingdom to building the largest pyramid ever, and the whole thing begins to unravel as the power inherent in the Pyramids of Djelibeybi is unleashed.

This is a Discworld novel that's very nearly there. It has a similar structure to later books in the series, but with a completely new set of characters that we don't get to revisit. The story is also nowhere near as rooted in allegory as later books. The characters are great though, with even the "bad guy" being written sympathetically, although this is a sad lapse into previous type in terms of his writing of women with Ptraci being treated relatively poorly. Still, she's a step up from Conina and Bethan.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
222 reviews
October 13, 2008
Philosophically, this is the richest Discworld novel so far. (I'm reading them in order of publication.) It mounts a delightful critique of tradition and religion. It's not just another tiresome empiricist refutation-by-lack-of-imagination, or even another tiresome denunciation of priestcraft -- although it contains elements of both. It's actually an idealist critique, in the end. Here's a scene from pp. 202-3:

Belief is a force. It's a weak force, by comparison with gravity; when it comes to moving mountains, gravity wins every time. But it still exists, and now that the Old Kingdom was enclosed upon itself, floating free of the rest of the universe, drifting away from the general consensus that is dignified by the name of reality, the power of belief was making itself felt.

For seven thousand years the people of Djelibeybi had believed in their gods.

Now their gods existed. They had, as it were, the complete Set.

And the people of the Old Kingdom were learning that, for example, Vut the Dog-Headed God of the Evening looks a lot better painted on a pot than he does when all seventy feet of him, growling and stinking, is lurching down the street outside.

Now, the weakness of Pratchett's approach is that it concedes that religions do have the key efficacy they claim for themselves. Thus, it leaves open the possibility that a religion exists that does not involve a Vut the Dog-Headed God of the Evening.
Profile Image for Elena.
124 reviews996 followers
December 4, 2019
Creo que de los libros que llevo leídos de Mundodisco, este es el que menos me ha gustado. Empezó enganchándome mucho, contando cómo Teppic se examinaba en el gremio de Asesinos, pero luego la historia se va por otras ramas que desgraciadamente me aburrieron mucho.. :( Salvo a Maldito Bastardo (el camello matemático inteligentísimo) y a Teppic y Dios como personajes..pero poco más ha sabido captar mi atención, y es una pena porque trata temas muy interesantes. Quizá no era el momento y en una relectura lo apreciaré más.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
812 reviews138 followers
April 30, 2020
Fantastic early largely stand-alone story in my beloved Discworld series. It's strange to think of the seventh book in a series as "early" these days, but considering an oeuvre of over 40 books spanning 30 years and the fact that he was putting out 2 novels a year at the time, I feel okay with that label. Although I do have to wonder, would the Discworld as written be picked up for publication in 2020? I don't know. I certainly hope so. There is no denying the magic of the series, but several of the earlier books struggled with plotting and flow, so maybe we are all simply lucky that the series emerged in a time and place when it had leeway to breathe and grow.

Pyramids is an improvement over, say, books 4 (Mort) and 5 (Sourcery) it that it is a lot more polished, the plot better assembled, and the action flowing reliably from scene to scene. Chronologically it could fall anywhere in the series, with the only clear timestamp being that Vetinari is established as ruler in Ankh-Morpork. It is chock-ful of hilarity. Pratchett has flawless aim and has many subversive takes on Western impressions of ancient egyptian culture, desert life, priest-led religion, and camels. Especially camels. Even if you never thought much about camels or seen one in real life, everything he says about them rings perfectly true. And that running gag about the greatest mathematician on the Disc... pure comedy gold. The book is not perfect; there remain some lost opportunities for a more grandly climactic ending. It still has not quite hit that peak Discworld feeling that I hold in my memory, but it came awfully close. Maybe I am chasing a dragon that didn't quite exist in the first place, or maybe being older and wiser (haha) works to my detriment here. There are still plenty of Discworld books to go, so time will tell.

One standout note: on page 1 I had to google "Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram", which could have presented a challenge when this was first published in the 1980's, barring a high-quality dictionary or encyclopedia at home. Pratchett is really stepping up his cosmological vocabulary, demonstrating that he was not writing for a dull crowd. Of course, this was offset by "insterstellar wossname".

I am re-reading the Discworld books in publication order, some of them for the first time in nigh thirty years, and as I go I am developing my ideas about why I loved them so much, why they are so enduringly popular and beloved, and where their real magic lies. My early impression is that the best books in the series are rooted in a specific locale, as opposed to the disc-jumping adventures of Rincewind in the earliest books. With Pyramids I am starting to solidify my understanding of another pervasive theme in the Discworld books, that of the struggle between tradition and progress, and especially the excoriation of traditions that are followed only for tradition's sake. This isn't the first book to address this (that would be Equal Rites) but it stands out as integral to this story. In contrast, the Rincewind books don't make use of this theme, which may be why they don't shine as much. This is my new pet Discworld hypothesis at least. It requires no deep thought to see "the rise of modernity" as a recurring theme in these books, especially the latest ones, but it deepens my appreciation of the whole series as I highlight these aspects for myself.
Profile Image for Daniel Chaikin.
594 reviews54 followers
July 29, 2021
I love discworld, still, but this one was tough. Terrific ideas, terrific world, great characters and ideas. Pratchett has so much fun playing on ancient Egypt, classical Greek philosophy, death (and mummies), religion and, just discworld,. But the plot drive isn‘t there, and when it is, the pacing is terrible. It makes for a sluggish read.


35. Pyramids by Terry Pratchett
published: 1989
format: 323-page paperback
acquired: 2007
read: Jul 21-25
time reading: 9:35, 1.8 mpp
rating: 3
locations: Discworld (in a version of ancient Egypt with magical forces)
about the author: 1948-2015, from Buckinghamshire, England
Profile Image for Carlex.
534 reviews99 followers
July 15, 2022
This novel has magnificent ideas but it fails to captivate me as in the author's previous novels. I don't know exactly why, but at times the reading became difficult and not even the author's excellent sense of humor could remedy it.
Profile Image for Rob.
853 reviews540 followers
October 25, 2015
Executive Summary: Another good, but not great entry in the Discworld series. This one seems to read pretty much stand alone, though I think it would be best to have some knowledge of the series prior to this book.

Full Review
It's been a few months since my marathon of several of the previous books, and I was in the mood for Mr. Pratchett's humor. I'd been in a bit of a reading slump after my previous book, and hoped this would be a light quick read to break me of that.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case. It was light, and quite funny at times, and usually very quotable. I just never really got into it like I have some of the other books. I didn't care too much about the characters I guess. I found Teppic largely forgettable, Dios quite annoying and the camel and all its related jokes groan worthy.

I loved the setting though. When I was younger I absolutely loved ancient Egypt, pyramids and the Sphynx. I'm surprised I didn't like it more as a result. A lot of the pyramid related humor was pretty good, but not enough to always hold my interest. I went many days between reading, and was never really in a rush to get back to it.

In a series this long and varied, there are likely to be some books I'll enjoy more than others, and this one just falls into that latter category for me.

I'll probably take another month or two long break before finally tackling Guards! Guards!, which will hopefully live up to the high expectations people have built up for me.
Profile Image for Andrew.
Author 3 books53 followers
November 22, 2016
Pyramids is, so far, my favourite Terry Pratchett book.
The humour is sublime, and that's why I read him.

This takes place on the Discworld, but isn't part of any other series. The characters here don't get to have any more adventures. But that's fine, because their stories are complete. This is one of the true Discworld standalones (I know everyone says that you can read any Discworld book in any order, but that's madness!).

What actually happens in this book? An assassin that's taking his final exam receives a letter from home that he needs to return because he's the rightful heir to the throne. Then some stuff happens.
As it always is with Pratchett, the "stuff" doesn't really matter. I can't point to a single part of this book and tell you why it's my favourite in the series, because I've forgotten all of the funny parts that made me laugh, because jokes are fleeting and of the moment. And yet it's those jokes that make me love this book above his others.

Okay, here's a random quote from the book that I googled to cap this review off:
“People needed to believe in gods, if only because it was so hard to believe in people.”
Profile Image for Yara (The Narratologist).
158 reviews85 followers
April 1, 2015
In Pyramids, the seventh book in the Discworld universe and the first in the gods/ancient civilisations subseries, Pratchett tackles ancient Egypt and the pseudoscientific “pyramid power” theory. It tells the story of a young prince-turned-assassin and the strange the country of Djelibeybi (ha!), where pyramids dominate the landscape and the king is believed to be a god. Mummies come to life, deities wreak havoc, time and space are bent beyond all recognition, and Pratchett even manages to squeeze a few jabs at the ancient Greeks in there. While nothing earth-shattering, it is a solid entry in the Discworld series.

And yet, I am giving it five stars. You see, even though Pyramids is not a perfect novel, but it was the one I desperately needed to read and the reason I will be eternally grateful to Terry Pratchett.

(Warning: highly personal story ahead.)

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