Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. ★★★★★
Small Gods is the thirteenth Discworld book, but it stands alone and can be read independently. Pretty much the only reoccurring character to make an appearance is Death, since Small Gods is set before the events in the other novels.
Brutha is a simple novice hoeing melons when his god Om speaks to him in the form of a tortoise, a form he’s been stuck in for three years. You see, on the Discworld, gods are created when people believe in them, and no one really believes in Om. They believe in the artifice – the buildings, the ritual, and the Quisition – but nobody believes in Om himself, except for Brutha.
Small Gods is rather obviously a satirical take on religion, but it manages to satirize without ever being mean spirited, a real accomplishment. Small Gods is also one of the deepest Discworld novels. Here, Pratchett has a lot to say on the nature of belief and humanity.
The story centers around Brutha and Om, and the two characters work very well together. Over the course of the book, they both come to grow and change, learning more about the world.
“Om began to feel the acute depression that steals over every realist in the presence of an optimist.”
Small Gods is also one of the darker Discworld books. While still hilariously funny, this is a book that contains the Quisition, torturers who “purify” the unfaithful. The main villain, Vorbis, head of the Quisition, is undoubtedly evil, but what makes him frightening is how he shapes the people around him.
All in all, Small Gods is an excellent book. I know many people consider it to be the best Discworld novel, and I can’t say they’re wrong. I highly recommend it.