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Good Omens Paperback – 11 Dec 2014
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"Marvellously benign, ridiculously inventive and gloriously funny" (GUARDIAN)
"Wickedly funny" (TIME OUT)
"A superbly funny book. Pratchett and Gaiman are the most hilariously sinister team since Jekyll and Hyde. If this is Armageddon, count me in" (JAMES HERBERT)
"Wow" (WASHINGTON POST)
About the Author
Neil Gaiman (Author)
Neil Gaiman is the acclaimed creator of the graphic novel series SANDMAN and of such novels for children as Coraline and for adults as American Gods and Stardust. His comics and novels have sold in their tens of millions. Like Terry, his works have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and also like Terry, he is the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal. Unlike Terry, he has never been awarded a knighthood for services to literature, although his mother thinks that sooner or later the Queen will read one of his books and immediately knight him if she likes it, and that to be on the safe side he should leave out the rude words.He does have the Newbery Medal, though.
Terry Pratchett (Author)
Terry Pratchett is the acclaimed creator of the global bestselling Discworld series, the first of which, The Colour of Magic, was published in 1983. Raising Steam is his fortieth Discworld novel. His books have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he is the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal, as well as being awarded a knighthood for services to literature. After falling out with his keyboard he now talks to his computer. Occasionally, these days, it answers back.
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But on the urgings of a friend, I have now, and for the first time, read one of the novels that he wrote in collaboration with another writer. I’d always resisted that inclination in the past, driven by a sense that I wanted my Terry Pratchett unadulterated or not at all. Ask a Scotsman what the best thing is to add to a whisky and he’ll tell you, “another whisky.” Nothing mixes better with Pratchett than another Pratchett.
After <i>Good Omens</i>, I’ve had to revise that view. It isn’t a Pratchett novel. It isn’t set on the Discworld, for instance, but on Earth. Nonetheless, behind the wit that hums through the book, some of it no doubt down to the co-author Neil Gaiman, there are occasional gleams of pure Pratchett: in the ageing dominatrix, for instance, who is essentially motherly and decorates her boudoir of sin with fluffy toys, or the suggestion that nothing Hell could come up with as a torment would rival what mankind can dream up on its own.
The theme is a parody of the film <i>Omen</i>. A son has been born to Satan. His agents, notably the demon Crowley who is coordinating the whole venture, have arranged that an American diplomat’s wife will give birth that very night to a son in an obscure hospital in the English countryside, which happens to be staffed by nuns from a Satanist order. This will allow a switch to be performed, leading to the devil’s child being brought up in a family which will provide him with the opportunity to plunge the world into the chaos that leads to Armageddon.
Alas, however, even infernal agents, like humans, are inclined to err. The switch is mishandled. So, eleven years later, as the forces of hell and those of heaven prepare to fight their last battle to the destruction of the Earth and the human species, nothing goes to plan.
Which isn’t such a bad thing for Crowley, and his opposite number, the angel Aziraphale. The two of them have grown used to life on earth and have come to enjoy it. No more antique bookshops? No more elegant cocktail bars? (I leave it to you to decide which is to the taste of which of these two). The prospect leaves them both distraught and, having come close to being friends down the centuries through which they have competed with each other, they collaborate to see if they can find a way of preventing Armageddon while avoiding the likely retribution of their respective heavenly and infernal hierarchies.
Throw into the mix a modern witch, who happens to be a descendant of Agnes Nutter, author of some “nice and accurate prophecies” which, are indeed, astonishingly accurate though sadly not always comprehensible until after the events have happened, and then include a misfit of a young man who becomes a witchfinder, and you have all the ingredients for a rollicking, funny and engaging tale. Since the ending is both satisfying and pointed, with the destruction of an object we might have expected to be treated as sacred, the novel has everything one could hope for to amuse and entertain.
Well worth it if you’re at a loose end and want some entertainment written with talent. And, like me, you're regretting the loss of Terry Pratchett. Enhanced, far from diminished, by Neil Gaiman.
You might think a collaboration between two authors, particularly two with such distinctive styles, would read like cut-and-paste, but the story flows along like a Lennon-McCartney composition. Knowing there can now never be anything quite like it again makes it all the more poignant.
A short summary? An angel and a demon team up to try to stop the Apocalypse from happening when the Anti Christ reaches the correct age. Basically, it's a bit of a spoof on the movie The Omen except can you still consider a work in that parody category when it's arguably better written that it's source? Pratchett and Gaiman's styles of writing complement each other beautifully, bringing out the best in both and removing any perceived weakness someone could somehow relate to either. The characters are incredibly well rounded, and the humor of the book is such that it stands up to multiple re-readings and you will still find yourself gigging over sections.
The story is more than simply engaging, it's enveloping. The pace moves along at the correct speed, keeping you engrossed with each new word. You can't help but care about these characters, about the stakes that they are going through. Not just because the stakes are the end of the world but because we care about the characters and that is far more important, really.
Honestly? Good Omens is one of those books that I recommend to everyone. Because it is simply that good. It's a forever favourite and more people need to read it, really. Because Ineffability.
Things really do look dire. Except, someone seems to have misplaced the Antichrist. And the angel and demon who have been keeping an eye on things since mankind were evicted from Eden? Well, they’ve become rather comfy with the way things are. And as they countdown continues, mayhem on an earth-shaking scale begins to unravel their best laid plans.
As familiar as an old pair of gloves; or perhaps the walking boots you’ve used for years.
That’s what it feels like to read this gem of a story from two of the most eccentric writers you will ever meet. Inventive; out there; wickedly funny; heavenly.
A superb recipe for disaster. I didn’t stop grinning from beginning to end.
Just hope the adaptation keeps that scene! The Four horsemen of the apocalypse gather in the Happy Porker Cafe to catch up on old times & play a round of trivial pursuit. What could be better!