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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The audiobook of Small Gods is narrated by the BAFTA award-winning actor and director Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings; Planet of the Apes), BAFTA and Golden Globe award-winning actor Bill Nighy (Love Actually; Pirates of the Caribbean; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) reads the footnotes, and Peter Serafinowicz (Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace; Shaun of the Dead) stars as the voice of Death. Featuring a new theme tune composed by James Hannigan.

'You should do things because they're right. Not because gods say so. They might say something different another time.'

Religion is a competitive business in the Discworld. Everyone has their own opinion and their own gods, of every shape and size - all fighting for faith, followers, and a place at the top.

So when the great god Om accidentally manifests himself as a lowly tortoise, stripped of all divine power, it's clear he's become less important than he realised.

In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast. Enter Brutha, the Chosen One - or at least the only One available. He wants peace, justice and love - but that's hard to achieve in a world where religion means power, and corruption reigns supreme....

You can listen to the Discworld novels in any order, but Small Gods is a standalone.

The first book in the Discworld series – The Colour of Magic – was published in 1983. Some elements of the Discworld universe may reflect this.

©1992 Terry and Lyn Pratchet (P)2022 Penguin Audio

Critic reviews

"An intriguing satire on institutionalized religion corrupted by power." (Independent)

"Deftly weaves themes of forgiveness, belief and spiritual regeneration." (The Times

What listeners say about Small Gods

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Serkis is not the right voice

I'm a die-hard Pratchett and audiobook fan and unfortunately Serkis' reading of this classic puts me right on edge. His tendency to dive for the low notes at every opportunity, combined with his vocal growl, makes comprehension difficult and at times uncomfortable to listen to. Similarly, his casting of the voices, with their accents, intonations and inflections, seems ill suited to the character personae: in the early stages of the book Brutha is chaotic and frantic whereas at times in this reading Serkis makes him sound confident and almost colourless. In all cases the characters sound like they've just emerged from a heavy night out at a 1980s northern England working men's club, with energy to match.
And while I appreciate this is almost certainly how it happened, Bill Nighy could have tried to read the footnotes with a little more story context than just phoning in a precompiled list from a sound booth.
A real disappointment.

4 people found this helpful

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Musical cues are a distraction

I grew up, not on the Nigel Planer audiobooks, but on the Tony Robinson abridged versions, and as much as I adore Mr Robinson, his range of voices was somewhat limited, so my bar for enjoyment is not set at its highest when it comes to Discworld narration. In the fullness of time, I expanded my library to include the Stephen Briggs audiobooks and they became my standard (if leaning heavily to the Welsh) voice of the Discworld. But I was prepared to give this new edition a go.

And I have to say Andy Serkis does a sterling job! I slightly disagree with those who don't like his Vorbis voice - it put me in mind of a sub-par Alan Rickman impression, and it gave me just the right level of creeps applicable to the character. I was a little more thrown by a scouse (?!) god Om - not what I was expecting, but it grew on me. It's his carrying of the story that keeps the performance rating as high as it is.

But I'm joining the chorus of bewilderment over the poor usage of Bill Nighy. Not even so much for the somewhat bored-sounding, microphone-wrapped-in-a-duvet performance, but more for the gap between the narration, the musical cue and then the footnote, followed by another musical cue before the return to the action. Why is it necessary for a delay-causing musical cue to pull the listener completely out of the story? Footnotes are meant to be a fun little extra, not a distraction - the story should stand completely on its own without the footnotes at all, and adding music draws attention to something that should be unobtrusive. Hey, Terry Pratchett's signature style was funny footnotes - let's capitalise on that! No - bad Penguin, go to your room and think about what you've done.

As a standalone story, albeit one with far-reaching ripples into the wider Discworld narrative, this has always been one of my favourites, so the story will always get top marks there. No real prior knowledge of the Discworld is required if this is the first one you read (and I would suggest reading it, rather than jumping straight into this audiobook), and it certainly demonstrates all the important parts that make Discworld the phenomenon it is today.

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American voiced Philosophers??

I had to stop listening half way through due to the awful “American” accents Andy Serkis decided to use for the Philosophers. It’s was jarring and totally out of place. Awful.

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Andy Serkis doesn't understand the characters.

Whilst a clearly talented performer, reading Didactylos and Urn as versions of Zaphod Beeblebrox is so off putting I couldn't listen to the rest of the book.

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More Glod than Gold

I love Pratchetts Discworld books, enjoy Serkis as an actor and Small Gods is one of my favourite books of his so I was delighted to hear about this new recording.

Unfortunately for me the enjoyment of an audiobook is deeply tied to the realisation of the voices you "hear" in your own head when you read the story.
For anyone who enjoys an actor doing a bunch of different voices in an interesting way then you may love Serkis narration.
His voice as the main narrator and even many of the small characters is wonderful.
The choices for the main characters, his or the publishers? however didn't work for me.

An angry, shouty Alexi Sayle as Om. Kenneth Williams talking though his nose whilst on mogadon as Vorbis and when a chilled American voice heralded the arrival of Didactylos I was done.

There's an irony that Serkis was in LOTR, the cast of which is for me one of the most superb examples of the craft of a casting agent in the last couple of decades and yet his vocal choices here just seem so wrong to me.




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Almost there....

Andy Serkis is masterful as always and does a great job bringing the characters to life. The only issue I've got is the voice of Vorbis. Nobody talks like that. It just made me irritated.
The voice of Death was just boring as hell. Dull and nothing special at all. Not even a small echo like we've been used to hear from other adaptations.
And the footnotes by Bill also sounded off and full. A waste of talent.
But on the whole a good adaptation that was saved by Andys storytelling.

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The greatest narrator meets the greatest author.

Andy Serkis reading Terry Pratchett and Small Gods at that. Is there any need for further reviews?

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  • rb
  • 28-06-22

Small Gods and mighty deeds

A great story told with irony, wit and morals. Believable performances enhance the reading.

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sublime!

one of the best readings of an audiobook i've heard. Andy Serkis is superb... only wish he was doing more of the discworld novels.

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Excellent

Never thought of Om as a Scouser, but it's absolutely perfect - much like the rest of this audiobook

1 person found this helpful

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  • Ragnar Hartmann
  • 28-04-22

What Discworld Deserves

Small Gods is my second favorite Discworld novel (after Guards! Guards!). So I’m biased.

The previous recording was a nice effort, but was distracting with the silly numb voice applied to the main character (one used on too many characters across these books I might add). Whereas Andy Serkis is a master, pulling me into the book in a way I never had been; and while he uses inflection to differentiate the character, it’s done with great care and respect, subtly adding another dimension to them. Bill Nighy and Peter Serafinowicz perfectly compliment him, without their bits ever feeling disjointed.

As for the story: this is the perfect introduction to Discworld. Better yet it’s stand alone. There are philosophical musings within it that I’ve quoted at university. The end is beautiful and forgiving (I won’t say more to avoid spoiling anything).

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  • Erik N. Carlson
  • 11-05-22

Change can be a good thing

Who knew I wanted Andy Serkis to read one of my favorite novels!?
Although Briggs is my classic reader, Serkis brings new life to characters through tone and accent. It was like visiting a familiar vacation spot and spending the time commenting on all the new houses and views.


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  • Kindle Customer
  • 01-05-22

Andy Serkis does an excellent job.

Nigel Planer set the bar for several years, and should have continued doing the voice of Death and the footnotes. Bill Nighy and Peter Serafinowitz do not do the roles justice at all.

Andy Serkis is in his element, and without the other two ruining it, would result in a perfect score, his voice does drop into "Gollum" mode occasionally.

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  • Edith W.
  • 27-05-22

Great book, stupid interpretation.

Dear Reader, Please hunt down Nigel Planer's narration of this and other Pratchett novels. They're funny and practical, not precious.

This version, OTOH, is the absolute worst type of Pratchett interpretation; treating the book like a twee, adorable fairytale is just, just... wrong.

Do not bother with this crap.

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  • L. Williams
  • 05-05-22

Reader wasn’t for me

Andy Serkis is very talented, no doubt, and I’m not sure if he made the decision on voices or if that was the choice of the director. But I just didn’t like the choice of voices. Lots of rumbling and shrieking. I finally stopped about 2/3 way through. Absolutely love Terry Pratchett and applaud the idea of bringing his work to new audiences with audio updates (especially as the sound quality of earlier recordings was often pretty bad). But this one was a miss for me. I did try Indira Varma’s Equal Rites reading and it was pretty good, though not sure it was a vast improvement on Celia Imrie’s earlier version (except in sound quality). Unfortunately, as these new versions are released, it looks like Audible takes the old ones out of commission.

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  • chris
  • 03-05-22

great! but I kand of miss Stephen Briggs.

Andy Serkis was great, Bill Nighy sounded like he was reading the morning paper and mumbling to himself, and though I didn't hate Peter's death voice, I still feel the voice that Nigel and Stephen did fit the tone of the story better.

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  • Lumberjack Wizard
  • 03-07-22

Andy Serkis is the best

I love Terry Pratchett books and to have them read by Serkis is a gift too good to be true. Can't wait to buy all the Watch books!

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  • mran
  • 30-06-22

Well, Andy Serkis

Nuff said. Despite my huge disappointment with the Penguin version of Hogfather, I bought this because it was Serkis reading it, and was not disappointed in the least. He always makes me feel like a child listening to a story around the campfire, told by a favorite uncle, at nearly any time in human history.

I wasn't totally crazy about his voices of Didactylos and Urn, but everyone else was fantastic. As many times as I've read this story, and listened to the BBC radio play, and the version read by Nigel Planer, I still found something new in this version.

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  • Merano
  • 29-06-22

Andy Serkis is a wonder!

Serkis could well be the best book narrator ever! Each voice was distinct and perfect. Really well done.

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  • The Product Doctor
  • 28-06-22

Wonderful Narration

The book is worth the listen for the great performance. The story…not so much. I didn’t get the point. Very enjoyable listen, however. A good choice for multitasking.