Terry Pratchett – Pyramids

And on we go with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. The seventh in the series was first published in 1989, and is the first to be a “one-off”. So far, the books have featured either Rincewind, with or without the rest of Unseen University, Granny Weatherwax, with or without other witches, or Death. Well, Death’s only starred in one book so far, but trust me, he’s a recurring character we’ll be seeing a lot more of. This one is based around the ancient and pyramid-obsessed Kingdom of Djelibeybi[1], which in the finest Pratchett style is ancient Egypt with knobs on, and with all the knobs turned up to a very high number.

Teppic, the heir to the throne, has been sent to Ankh-Morpork to get a proper modern education in the Assassins Guild, which seems like a nicely respectable institution. The fun begins when he arrives, as this is played as a traditional public school story, complete with one new student being mocked for saying his prayers in the dormitory. Of course, this being the Discworld, the prayers involve sacrificing a goat. And of course, Teppic’s final[3] practical exam is ever so slightly reminiscent of a driving test, albeit one with lethal traps.

But the real fun starts when Teppic’s slightly confused father, having mistaken himself for a seagull, makes an unsuccessful flight from the palace. He finds that he’s stuck haunting the place until he’s interred in his pyramid. Teppic arrives home to become King, only to find that the real power is with the High Priest, Dios, who is suspiciously old.

Actually, the real fun begins when, having been pressured by Dios, Teppic authorises the building of the biggest pyramid ever, which leads to a slight problem. You see, pyramids do funny things with time, and a pyramid this big does even funnier things, which lead to Djelibeybi disappearing.

Then there’s a lot of fun with some Ephebians[4], where a bunch of philosophers have a nice friendly chat, which is made slightly annoying by Ibid, who thinks he’s the greatest authority on everything.[5]

Then there’s the Disc’s greatest mathematician, who might not be quite what you’d expect. And loads of fun when the gods of Djelibeybi manifest themselves, including several competing sun gods.

Then there’s the slight problem of all of Teppic’s ancestors getting out of their pyramids in rather a bad mood[6], which involves one of my favourite Discworld routines:

King Teppicymon XXVII[7], having done the proper lurching around as a mummy, has started things moving by opening the tomb of his grandmother. They’ve moved on to open the much older tomb of King Ashk-ur-men-tep. He isn’t all that happy about being awake, and is even less happy about the Great Pyramid that’s causing all the trouble.

‘It is a dretful thing,’ said the ancient king. ‘I felt its building. Even in the sleep of deathe I felt it. It is big enough to interr the worlde.'[8]

‘I wanted to be buried at sea,’ said Teppicymon. ‘I hate pyramids.’

‘You do not,’ said Ashk-ur-men-tep.

‘Excuse me, but I do,’ said the king, politely.

‘But you do not. What you feel nowe is myld dislike. When you have laid in one for a thousand yeares,’ said the ancient one, ‘then you will begin to know the meaning of hate.’

Nice. I use a variation on that when people who merely use computers claim to hate the things.

There’s loads more to enjoy that I’ve deliberately not mentioned. Huge fun, some wonderful silliness, and even more interesting ideas.

[1] A name familiar to Doctor Who fans[2]
[2] Though possibly with a different spelling
[3] Look at it this way, there are no resits
[4] Ancient Greeks with the knobs turned up, etc
[5] He must be! He’s cited as the source for so many things…
[6] Well, they’d been woken up a bit early
[7] Teppic’s late father
[8] They obviously talked differently in his day

2 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett – Pyramids

  1. Pingback: The Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon | Losing it

  2. Pingback: Terry Pratchett – Small Gods | Losing it

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