Tonight we continue the Small Gods bookclub, as Mike S recaps the ninth and tenth sections of the book. Mike S recapped the first section here, James K recapped the second section here and Mike the third here, fourth here, fifth here, and sixth here. James and Mike recapped the seventh and eighth sections here. The complete list of sections can be found here. If you’re reading a different edition, post a comment giving its first and last pages, and I’ll add it to the spreadsheet. If you must comment on anything past what we’ve read so far (the first ten sections), please rot13 it to avoid spoilers. If you’d like to volunteer to recap future sections, please say so.
That’s all the boilerplate stuff. Let’s get started.
From “Didactylos could feel the crowd.” to “Lu-tze watched Brutah carefully from his little shed by the soil heaps.”
Simony wants Didactylos to speak to the crowd about the Truth that The Turtle Moves. He’s uncomfortable with the idea. Instead, he tells them the facts, which are the same but less inspiring. Simony instructs Urn to make him a war machine for attacking the Citadel.
Brutha and Om have descended into the lion’s den. It’s an old, ruined temple of some old, ruined god, whose worshippers has shown their devotion by building magnificent setting for sacred rituals like human sacrifice. Om hates it, since for gods such a place is a memento mori. Vorbis is able to walk and feed himself now, but shows no signs of intellect. Om would still like him dead, and tells Brutha that Vorbis deserves it, for his crimes. Brutha objects that he did it in the same of Om, and when Om replies that it’s not his fault, Brutha tells his god to shut up. He gathers Om and Vorbis and sets off for Omnia.
They come across some small gods, who try to bribe Brutha into worshipping them, with visions of food and drink, but Om fights them off. Walking further, they come across a crazy old anchorite, whom the small gods have brainwashed into thinking jw lives a life of luxury, and only eats bugs and lizards and a break from roast pork. Though in the spring, when the mushrooms bloom, things get even further from reality.
Meanwhile, with Vorbis gone the Omnians in Ephebe their sense of purpose, and are defeated rather easily by the populace. The Tyrant, released from prison, decides that Omnia needs to be dealt with once and for all.
Brutha and his companions are nearing Omnia. The two men nap, while Om goes to look for some leaves to eat. Vorbis rises, brains Brutha with a stone, and throws a tortoise (which he think to be, but fortunately, is not, Om) onto a boulder. He then slings Brutha’s body over his shoulder and sets off once again for Omnia.
Brutha wakes up. He’s in Omnia, being tended by Brother Nhumrod. He learns that Vorbis’s story is, of course, that he rescued Brutha, and that Vorbis is about to be names the Eighth Prophet. Brutha is taken to Vorbis, who welcomes him and names him an archbishop. Vorbis explains once again about the difference between reality, in which Brutha saved him, and Truth, in which he saved Vorbis. It sounds like typical Vobis, but Brutha, who is far beyond the naive bumpkin we first met, intuits that something important has changed: Vorbis is afraid of him. Vorbis now takes Brutha to see the latest addition to the Citadel: a combination rack/brazen bull, shaped like a turtle.
Vorbis dismisses Brutha, who wanders off and runs across Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah. As usual, Dhblah knows all the gossip before anyone else, so he congratulates Brutha on his promotion and speculates what sort of Prophet Vornis will make. It occurs to Brutha that a Prophet is someone the gods speak to, and that of the people who made the desert trek, that wasn’t Vorbis.
From “It was another barn.” to “For a start, they believe with all their heart.”
Simony and Urn discuss their assault on the Citadel. There’s a former Omnian soldier there who knows the secret of the giant brass doors that guard it. They’re steel-reinforced, immensely strong and heavy, and opened and closed by hydraulics. The tank they’re building will be useless, unless they can sneak in and open the doors from inside.
An informant tells Vorbis all about this plan. Vorbis is so grateful that he releases the man’s father from prison and lets them both go home joyously before having them killed.
As Urn is casting the steel for the tank, Lu-tze brings him a cup of tea. Drugged, it turns out, which allows him to pour cold water on the hot steel, ruining its quality. He then go backs to the Citadel, where Brutha is sitting miserably in their garden. He help Brutha realize that being a Prophet comes with responsibilities.
Brutha can’t hear Om, but Om can hear Brutha. He crawls towards Omnia as fast as he can. Which isn’t very fast. He is, after all, a tortoise.
The next morning Brutha is sitting in the kitchen area, when a floor grate opens and two men climb out. One is the sergeant, who wants to kill him along with all the other clergy, but the other is Urn, who stops him. The two go off in search of the door controls. Urn, finding them understands that it’s a counterweight system using water in reservoirs as the weights. He just needs to make a few adjustments to control it. Unfortunately, the machinery is so old and so badly kept that when he tries to loosen a nut, the bolt snaps off and water begins to pour out. At this point, they’re surprised by one of Vorbis’s henchman. They knock him over with a wrench, he grabs at one of the weights for support, and he takes to place of water filling the reservoir. He’s crushed by the mechanism, and Urn and th sergeant, hearing the great doors about to open, flee.
Meanwhile, Simony is trying to start up the tank, but the lever breaks off his his hand. (Thanks a lot, Lu-tze.) Brutha, standing in front of the doors, sees them open, and goes in to confront Vorbis. Brutha raises his hand to strike Vorbis, but seeing that Vorbis is prepared for and actually would welcome that stops. Vorbis is furious: genuinely furious, not his usual cold anger. He orders that Brutha be taken away, tortured, and killed.
Om takes his one chance to get back to the Citadel in time, letting an eagle pick him up and fly that way. As he hears Brutha’s mental screams in his mind, he grabs the eagle’s, um, genitalia in his beak, and explains what the eagle needs to do to keep them.
Urn, seeing Brutha, wants to rescue him. Simony says that, first, they’re way too few to win, and two, Brutha’s death would be useful, as a symbol for the uprising. Urn sees that Vorbis has made Simony into a copy of himself, and is properly horrified.
Vorbis stands before Brutha, saying that his death is the judgment of Om. Brutha agrees that Om is on his way and will judge between them. Brutha is right, of course, as Om arrives and smites Vorbis, right between the eyes, with the full weight of a falling tortoise.
Tune in next week for the 11th and final section of the book — from “Brutha was aware of feet running up the steps.” to “Death watched them walk away.”