Pyramids (Discworld 07)

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Pyramids is often compared to Small Gods , both being standalone novels of priests and deserts, ritual and faith, and cameo appearances by philosophers — but I think that Pyramids may be the more interesting and subtle of the two. Of course, I ought probably to find something to complain about. One thread of the ending, while neat, feels a little too legerdemained. The same can be said of his irony-and-paradox-heavy handling of themes, and some sleek plot twists. Loses the top grade only because of a little inconsistency — too many plain bits in among the sparkles. This is an author in full control, with an ebullient mastery.

Again, a tiny spot of thinness to the characters and in particular a slightly too straightforward story, plus maybe a little less humour than in his funniest efforts, stopped this from being a book I adore. It is, however, a book I really, really like. It was one of my favourites as a child.

There is quite an ordinary heroic tale underlying the plot, albeit with a few diversions thrown in along the way. Very Good. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account.

Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email. Exciting from beginning to end, though it does lull a bit in the middle. Some kickass moments make up for being slightly thin, emotionally speaking. Like this: Like Loading November 11, at pm. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Mostly, Pratchett plays with the mental images everyone already has of Egypt - pyramids, camels, cats, crocodiles.

The well-known notion that pyramids preserve cheese is tweaked for the Discworld so that the pyramids actually store time, becoming the basis of the plot.

Pyramids (Discworld #7)

Egypt is not my area of expertise, but to the best of my knowledge, Pratchett's representation of Egyptian religion is actually not that far out - according to Jan Assmann , whereas Mesopotamian and Greek observations of natural phenomena were focussed on foretelling the future, Egyptian observations of the same things focussed on maintaining order in the present and ensuring that things contined as they had before.

This is probably the result of the vital importance of the regular, annual flooding of the Nile to Egyptian farming.


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Teppic orders the biggest pyramid ever to be built for his father who wanted to be buried at sea and is then forced to flee the country saving Ptraci, his father's favourite handmaiden, from being fed to the crocodiles. I first read this book when I was about 14 and it was years before I worked out how to pronounce the names to get the joke - I had been pronouncing them 'Puh-trah-ki and Duh-jeli-baye-bi, when of course, it should be Tracy and Jellybaby.

Just as they cross the border, the pyramid's stored time cause a rupture in reality and the whole country disappears, trapping Teppic and Ptraci in neighbouring Ephebe. Ephebe is the Discworld's version of ancient Greece. It is ruled by a Tyrant, using a strange new political system that Teppic thinks is called 'mocracy'.

Wekk – Ep 73 – Beer, Books & Tea – Pyramids – Wekk Podcast

A little way from the border, Teppic and Ptaci discover the philosophers Xeno and Ibid, shooting at tortoises, because Xeno insists that it should be locially impossible to shoot a moving tortoise. Teppic is then invited to a symposium which is almost exactly like an ancient Greek symposium, except for the plate-smashing at the end - a bit of moder Greece seems to have crept in there where he meets a few more philosophers and other assorted ancient Greek types, all in uniform of white sheet and grey beard.

Xeno is the Discworld counterpart of Zeno of Elea, whose Achilles paradox argued that Achilles could not catch a moving tortoise. Copolymer, 'the greatest storyteller in the world', who tells Teppic the story of the Tsortean War 'Wossname's armour shone like shining armour. Fight and a half, that fight.

source site Between thingy, not the one with the limp, the one with red hair Iesope is Aesop, obviously, and Antiphon is Aristophanes. I can't think of anyone in particular analogous to the Discworld's Ibid; the name reflects tha Latin abbreviation, often used in older scholarly works, meaning 'in the same place'. Copolymer's full version of the story of the Tsortean war, by the way, is brilliant - a perfect combination of epic epithets, like 'red hair' and so on, with the sort of oral storytelling that more often happens among drunk friends in a modern context.

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It also includes all sorts of little details from the real Trojan cycle, thrown in with everything else, like Copolymer's reference to 'the one with the limp' which might be Philoctetes ; 'Oedipus' also means lame, but he isn't part of the Trojan War cycle who 'didn't want to go, said he was mad' that was Odysseus. Teppic is actually looking for Pthagonal Pythagoras , who is glumly complaining that the diameter of his pie should divide into the circumference three times, not 3.

This is the most significant use of classical philosophy in Pyramids , for the novel is based on the idea that the world really is, as Pythagoras said, all based on mathematics.

Discworld pt8 Pyramids

This, coupled with the added notion that camels are the greatest mathematicians in the world because they have so much time to think out in the desert, and they have to do quite complicated sums to get their legs to move properly is what leads to all sorts of hi-jinks involving disappearing countries and exploding pyramids. Teppic gets his camel, You Bastard, to take him back to Djelibeybi; meanwhile, the absence of the kingdom in between them has led Tsort and Ephebe to re-start the Tsortean war. Except, this time, both sides have built battalions of wooden horses and are sitting, waiting for the other side to come and take them in.

Ephebe, which up to this point has chiefly represented classical Athens, now becomes a combination of ancient Mycenae Agamemnon's kingdom and classical Sparta - one young soldier has been told to come back with his shield or on it Plutarch, Moralia, anon16 , and while briefly facing certain death, the captain gets as far as 'Go, tell the Ephebians - ' before giving up as the army arrives Herodotus, 7. Once everything has been sorted out and the country restored, Teppic leaves and Ptraci becomes Queen - at which point she turns into Cleo from Carry On Cleo , calmly seeing visitors in her asses' milk bath for which she plans to install plumbing.

She was halfway there already anyway - the handmaidens in Pyramids are just like Carry On hareem girls. The ending of the book is wonderful and takes tying things up neatly to a new level - it involves use the ouroboros , the symbol of the snake eating its own tail. There's probably lots more I could say about Pyramids , but I really have to go work on my thesis now, so I'll leave it there.

One final note: there's a review of a film I hadn't heard over at The Life of Antoninus Pius , but which sounds like it might be very entertaining Me, on possibly the greatest mathematician in the world, in Tunisia. I named him You Bastard - in an affectionate way - because he kept trying to throw me off in revenge for me having sat on him wrong.

We made peace during a break in the ride and hewas much nicer on the way back! Edited to add: I forgot to mention the Sphinx! Teppic gets the traditional Greek riddle but has a fabulous, unique solution - having failed to get the answer, he insists that the question is unfair and it should be amended to 'What, metaphorically speaking, walks on four legs just after midnight, on two legs for most of the day barring accidents , until at least supper time, when it continues to walk on two legs or with any prosthetic aids of its choice?

I also forgot to mention the dreams, a subject currently close to my heart.