Pyramids (The Book of Going Forth) is Terry Pratchett's 7th Discworld novel, and continues the trend of changing the series from a satire of the fantasy genre into a distorted mirror of our own world. The main inspiration here is quite obviously ancient Egypt, with the returning heir to the throne of Djelibeybi (ouch!) getting involved in a plot which involves the return of ancient gods, a riddling sphinx, mathematical camels, and hundred's of re-animated mummies (though just for a change these aren't the bad guys in this novel), though it also finds time to lampoon the Trojan war and ancient Greek philosophers along the way.
Pyramids is one of Pratchett's better constructed novels, with the story divided into four separate segments of Teppic's journey: first his training at the Assassin's Guild in Ankh-Morpork; then his inheritance of the throne of Djelibeybi; his escape with the beautiful handmaiden Ptraci when the ancient gods reclaim the land; and his final return and saving of his country. The main theme seems to be the danger of a stagnant society trapped in unthinking historical ritual, with the pyramids themselves interestingly acting as time negators by collecting and discharging time in order to preserve the mummies within. The novel also ends with an unexpected twist on Teppic and Ptraci's seemingly predictable romantic relationship, and a nice uroboric ending for the villain, who turns out to have been more a misguided do-gooder than evil.
If there is a slight downside to Pyramids (and the only reason I haven't given it the full 5 stars) it's that it's not particularly funny. While the cover blurb proclaims this as '...the most outrageously funny (Discworld novel) to date' I found the humour to be rather obvious and cheesy, particularly when it came to the bad puns. Nevertheless, Pyramids is still a fine novel - just not a hilarious one, and the fact that this is a completely standalone novel (in fact this is sequentially the first Discworld novel that has not yet been sequelised by the return of it's lead characters) makes this perfect for newcomers as well. Recommended.
on 3 May 1999
It is always hard to say one story in the discworld series is better than any other,especialy if like most devotee's you have read all of the series.Although there are at least 4 in the series i would say stand out as being exemplorary,i cannot in all honesty say that any are better than this. The humour is on par with Pratchetts best,and the story itself leaves nothing to be desired.If you have at times decided Pratchett's discworld series has been decreasing in content or storyline,or that the master had lost his touch and was now churning out any old nonsence,then this book will make you forget any past indiscrepancies on his part and bring you back into the fold a true believer once again in the unmistakenly superior writings of Terry Pratchett-author,humourist,and undisputed king of story telling.
on 2 August 2001
I'd never read any Discworld before, so I was kind of dubious. But this was brilliant - hysterically funny. It's about the teenage pharoah of the desert kingdom of Djelibeybi (say that out loud!) whose name is Teppic. He has to cope with the irritating priest, Dios, the fact his father's ghost keeps shouting at him, three pyramid builders - Ptaclusp and his sons Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIb, his curiously under-dressed sister/aunt, Ptraci, and if all that wasn't enough, the Great Pyramid itself explodes from paracosmic instability and flings Djelibeybi into another dimension (!) Brilliant.
on 24 March 2001
This is definitely one of the best discworld novels Pratchett has ever written. An absolutely hilarious take on ancient Egypt, this book is absolutely brilliant. Featuring Teppic, heir to the throne, and the greatest mathematician on the disc (a camel called You Bastard) this book had me crying with laughter from start to finish. Buy this book- I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
on 10 October 2000
The difference between this and many of the other Discworld novels is the fact that the characters are exclusively in Pyramids and no other book. This sets it apart from the 'series within a series' (Witches, Wizards, Guards, Death, Rincewind etc.)ideal that occurs frequently. Perhaps the difficulty that some readers have is getting to know characters that have not previously been introduced and are not developed further after the dust jacket of Pyramids has been closed. However, having read all of Pratchetts Discworld novels several times (sad, I know) there is no doubt that the characters in Pyramids stand above the rest in the way that they are written. The frequently confused Teppic fits brilliantly with the foppish Chidder, the well-meaning but fundamentally flawed Dios, the superficially vulnerable Ptraci and so on. The initial description of life at the Guild is also brilliantly put together and the later sections DO continue the strong plotline and the interplay between Teppic and the people he encounters is consistently entertaining. Pick it up and read it (or listen to it) and enjoy again and again.
Pyramids represents something of a detour in Pratchett’s Discworld series. The principal action takes place in the heretofore unfamiliar land of Djelibeybi, located in northern Klatch across the Circle Sea from Anhk-Morpork. This is a unique realm of the Discworld, two miles wide and 150 miles long. It is often referred to as the Old Kingdom for a very good reason—it is quite old, over 7000 years old in fact. It is a desert land whose pharaohs are obsessed with pyramid-building; besides bankrupting the country, this obsession has also had the unforeseen consequence of keeping the country firmly entrenched in the past. Pyramids, you see, slow down time, and there are so many pyramids in Djelibeybi now that new time is continually sucked in by them and released nightly in flares. In a land where the same time is reused daily, it comes as something of a surprise when the pharaoh Teppicymon XXVII decides to send his son Teppic outside of the kingdom to get his education. Just after becoming a certified, guild-approved assassin, young Teppic is called upon to return home after his father suffers the unfortunate consequences attendant upon thinking he can fly. Three months into his reign, he basically loses his kingdom—literally. The Great Pyramid being built for his father’s mummy is much too big, and eventually it causes the temporal dislocation of Djelibeybi from the face of the Discworld. Accompanied by the handmaiden Ptraci, whom he rescued from certain death, and a camel whose name would be edited were I to state it here, Teppic must find a way to restore his kingdom back to its proper place and time above the ground. The ordeal is only complicated further by the fact that all of the land’s dead and thousands of gods suddenly have appeared in person, acting as if they own the place.
While its unusual setting and the fact that it features characters seen here and nowhere else makes this novel seem a little different from its fellow Discworld chronicles, I must admit it is quite an enjoyable read. Pratchett ingeniously incorporates ideas and practices from ancient Egypt and ancient Greece: pyramids, mummification, Greek philosophers, the Trojan War and its Horse in particular, etc. Teppic is an enjoyable enough character, but we never seem to delve deeply enough to understand him properly. I loved the brash handmaiden Ptraci and her fearless contempt for tradition. All of the dead pharaohs are quite funny, particularly in terms of their opinions on an afterlife spent shut inside a tomb inside an escape-proof pyramid. The subplot featuring the history of warfare between two neighboring kingdoms really helps make this novel a true winner. Perhaps the most interesting thing to be found in these pages, though, is the actual identity and thought processes of Discworld’s greatest mathematician. There is also much to amuse and delight fans of temporal dislocation theories—the pyramid builders make many incredible discoveries in the process of building the Great Pyramid, not the least of which is a means of utilizing the structure’s innate time loop to call forth several different selves to help make sure the job is finished in the allotted time.
Even though this book is funny and satisfying enough to stand on its own, I would not start my Discworld reading with it. Aside from Teppic’s time spent in Anhk-Morpork learning to be an assassin, the action takes place outside the much more familiar lands we encounter time and again in the other novels. Of course, Pratchett devotees will want to read it for the very reason that it acquaints us with a strange, otherwise unfamiliar section of the Discworld.
on 5 February 2016
I'm reading through the Discworld novels for the first time. I really enjoyed the first two or three, but the last one (Wyrd Sisters) and this one have left me wondering whether to continue. The stories are quite well thought out, with some really funny moments, but the great leaps of imagination in the earlier books seem to have given way to fairly simple pastiches of other works or historical events. There seem to be a few stock characters that appear as the main protagonists in each book (is Teppic really very different from Rincewind?), most of the other characters are just plain dumb, and most of the interesting ones are either not developed or just disappear. I gather that some of the later books are considered the best of the series, so I guess I need to continue a bit further to find out. Overall, this is an easy, light, humorous read.
on 8 June 2016
Personally, one of my favourite Pratchett novels, that is funny in the first few minutes with the protagonist Teppic, who is an assassin, ending up tripping over the mass amount of gear that he had put upon himself.
With many of the novels however, there can be times when some moments are hard to understand, (like what is a llb?), but was made hilarious again by calling a camel (who's a mathematician) YouBastard!
Overall, both Pyramids and Small Gods are something to poke fun of religion at, especially with as much humour as Pratchett did. So, even with the four stars, I would rate this 8/10.
on 17 April 2016
Pyramids is, of course, Sir Pratchett’s take on ancient Egypt, a subject that I’m interested in. It’s always fascinated both myself and my mom, and we were planning on visiting some of the sites until unrest in the country put a rest to that. You’d think that a Discworld book about Egypt would be like a dream come true for me.
Unfortunately, I struggled to get into it, and whilst I did ultimately enjoy it, it’s not a book that I’d bother to re-read, with so many others available to me. I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to meet my word count, because I don’t have much more to say – it was just filler material, at least to me.
I don’t even want to dig into the plot, and for once it’s not because I don’t want to ruin it for you – it’s because it leaves me feeling kind of apathetic, and I just don’t really want to talk about it. And it’s a shame, because I thought it started out well, with the future king (spoiler alert, my bad) training to become an assassin in Ankh-Morpork.
You’d think that would make for a good book, right? Unfortunately, you’d be wrong – the protagonist, whose name I can’t spell, leaves Ankh Morpork not long after you start reading, and things gradually go downhill from there. I’m not saying this is a bad novel, not at all – it’s just that it’s average, and average isn’t good enough when we’re talking about Terry Pratchett.
Personally, I’m close to recommending that you avoid it, but that’s just going too far – still, you might want to save it, so you can read it when you’re starting to run out of Discworld novels to devour. Pyramids almost sits in isolation to the other books in the series, which might be part of the reason why I didn’t think much of it, but that also means that you can skip past it if you’re reading them in order, without any repercussions.
Overall, then, feel free to proceed with caution – you might enjoy it, who knows? But as for me, I won’t be recommending it to any of my friends. Not any time soon.
on 17 November 2015
This is the only Discworld novel that I hadn't read and it is just wonderful. I really love this cover and it's a design I much prefer however I think it's more suited to sitting on a shelf as there is a small tear on the spine of mine now and I'm a careful reader. I really should give this 4 stars due to that but it's Sir Pterry and a 4 star review just isn't going to happen.