->''The turtle moves!''

The 13th Literature/{{Discworld}} novel and a standalone, although it uses some characters and locations from ''Discworld/{{Pyramids}}'' and its events influence later works.

Omnia is a theocratic empire, somewhere between Khomeini's Iran and Inquisition-era Spain. Ruled by the Cenobiarch and his [[ChurchMilitant church military]], the religion of Omnianism - the worship of the Great God ("holy horns") Om - dominates all aspects of life. At the bottom of the pecking order is the young novice Brutha, big and slow yet able to [[PhotographicMemory recite scripture on command]]. He finds a tortoise, dropped by an eagle in an unsuccessful attempt to smash its shell. A ''talking'' tortoise. It claims to be Om himself, reduced to this pitiful state due to Discworld's gods [[GodsNeedPrayerBadly needing belief to survive]], and everyone in Omnia ([[TheOnlyBeliever save the simple-minded Brutha]]) obeys and fears the structure of the church rather than Om himself.

''Small Gods'' is particularly renowned for its ''Zelda''-like havoc-wreaking with the always-spotty Discworld timeline due to the appearance of ''Pyramids'' characters in the "young Brutha" segments yet the fact that the Omnianism that appears in later books is the more tolerant post-Brutha version. This was eventually explained in ''Discworld/ThiefOfTime'' as being due to the TimeyWimeyBall. It's also been said by Pratchett that he was here able to more fully explore ideas he first introduced in ''Pyramids''.

Preceded by ''Discworld/WitchesAbroad'', followed by ''Discworld/LordsAndLadies''.

!!Contains examples of:

* ActingUnnatural:
-->"Beneath the temple, Urn and sergeant Simony made their way through the tunnels of the citadel using the kind of nonchalant walk which would draw detailed and arrow-sharp attention to them in seconds. Fortunately, the guards were all above ground at the ceremony."
* AllLovingHero: Brutha. Especially notable in the climax, when [[spoiler:his last words to his soon-to-be-dead nemesis are "You are about to die. I'm sorry."]]. Also in the epilogue, where [[spoiler:he decides to help said nemesis' soul to cross the desert]].
* AlmightyJanitor: Lu-Tze literally acts like a janitor, while secretly tweaking the timeline to avoid a war.
* AltumVidetur: Omnia ''is'' the medieval Catholic Italy of the Discworld. Perhaps the best is, "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum", when Om hijacks the eagle.
** For the non dog-Latinists among us, this translates roughly to "Get them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow." The book {{Bowdlerize}}s this, at least partly for humor (given the circumstances of Om hijacking the eagle); see below.
* AmnesiacGod: Om remembers he's a god at the beginning of the book, thanks to Brutha's proximity. He has spent several years at least without being aware of what he was.
* AndIMustScream: [[spoiler:Vorbis' final fate - an eternity in the absolute silence of his own mind, all alone with himself - is Subverted when Brutha mercifully takes him to the afterlife.]]
* AndroclesLion: The lion decides to follow the "nice meat" and refrain from eating it, in some symbolic way. [[spoiler:It has no compunctions about St. Ungulant, though, but Angus proves himself not-so-imaginary by bashing its head in with a rock.]]
* ArcWords:
** Several characters throughout the book, when they're killed and find themselves in the spectral desert of the afterlife which they must journey through, ask Death "what awaits at the end of the desert?", to which Death replies [[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Judgement ]]
. At the end, there's a twist when Brutha does the same, considers for a moment, then asks: [[spoiler:"''[[MindScrew Which]]'' [[MindScrew end?]]"]]
** "The turtle moves!", the cry of the revolutionists against Omnia's dogmatism and a ShoutOut to Galileo.
** "In a hundred years we'll all be dead, but here and now we are alive" becomes the cornerstone of Brutha's philosophy.
* AsTheGoodBookSays: At the beginning of the story Brutha often quotes the Septateuch, the holy text of Omnianism, which he knows by memory.
* AtTheCrossroads: "the spirits of places where two ant trails cross"
* AwesomeByAnalysis: Brutha, although it really only comes into play at the end.
* BaldOfEvil: Vorbis, who deliberately shaves his head.
* BaitAndSwitchGunshot: Done with crossbows when Didactylos is on the run from Vorbis's soldiers. One of the soldiers lines up an easy shot, there's the twang of a crossbow bolt, and... the ''soldier'' falls, having been shot by another soldier who's a member of the resistance.
* BedtimeBrainwashing: A king wants to become learned without actually taking the time to read anything, so Didactylos suggests having slaves whisper bits of knowledge in his ear while he sleeps.
-->"Did that work?" \\
"Don't know. The third slave stuck a six-inch dagger in his ear. Then after the revolution the new ruler let me out of prison and said I could leave the country if I promised not to think of anything on the way to the border. But I don't believe there was anything wrong with the idea in principle."
* BilingualBonus: in the Italian translation when [[spoiler:Didactylos abiurates]], he declares that he will write "more balls than you could imagine"; in Italian, it means "more '''lies''' than you could imagine". In English it's a sort of [[DoubleEntendre Triple Entendre]] - there's the obvious meaning, the slyly insulting meaning (balls, as well as bollocks, is British slang similar in connotation to "bullshit") and naturally, knowing the guy saying it, the crude meaning - balls (and bollocks) is slang for testicles.
* BlackEyesOfEvil: Vorbis. It's said that it has something to do with his coming from a tribe living deep in the desert.
** Also a ShoutOut to the Fremen of ''Franchise/{{Dune}}''.
* BlindfoldedTrip: Anyone being brought through the trap-filled labyrinth, which is why Vorbis needs Brutha's perfect memory.
* {{Bowdlerize}} - PlayedWith: The footnoted translation of the phrase mentioned in AltumVidetur is given as "When their ''full attention'' is in your grip, their hearts and minds will follow." ''Testiculos'' doesn't ''quite'' translate to "full attention"...
* BoltOfDivineRetribution:
** Om tries a few, but it doesn't really work. The Ephebians are quick to compliment their gods immediately after saying anything disrespectful about them, unless the Library's copper roof is above them to ground out this trope.
** Also subverted. When the Tyrant says trouble started after the Omnian missionary pushed over the statue of Tuvelpit, the Ephebian god of Wine, Vorbis asks mockingly if he was then struck by lightning. The Tyrant says no, he was struck by an amphora of wine, because Tuvelpit was in the crowd and threw it.
* BreakTheCutie: Brutha, as he realizes just how corrupt and tyrannical the Omnian church is.
* BrickJoke: Didactylos's quip, "Do Deformed Rabbit, it's my favorite", referring back to a RunningGag from ''Discworld/MovingPictures''.
* BroughtDownToNormal: Once a mighty and feared deity who ruled many civilizations, lack of belief turned [[spoiler: Om]] into a tortoise.
* CharacterDevelopment: How Brutha develops from a clueless novice into a wise leader, and Om from a selfish, uncaring and cruel god to a god who appreciates human life.
** Om even lampshades it, when it occurs to him that he never even ''thought'' about words like 'unfair' before he became a tortoise.
* ChessMotifs: Brutha becomes a bishop, which (the narrative reminds us) moves diagonally to crop up in unexpected places.
* ChessWithDeath: Provides the page quote. The Abbot of the History Monks plays it at the end - however, Death can never remember '''[[/folder]]

[[folder: how the little horse-shaped ones move ]]
''', and the Abbot just continuously reincarnates anyway. The reader doesn't see how it ends, but the Abbot was back to being a baby in his next appearance.
* ChurchMilitant: Vorbis. Ultimately he cares more about his personal power and the power of the church than the god it was supposed to be dedicated to. Part of what makes him frightening is how ''completely unaware'' he is of this; he believes he's following the commands of his god [[spoiler:all the way to end, until he passes to the desert and ''finally'' learns that he's only been hearing himself. And now that's all the company he'll ever have...]]
* CluelessBoss: The Cenobiarch, the High Priest of the Omnian Church, is this. He's just a senile old man who nods at anything said during meeting with the high ranking church members who tries to bless anyone nearby.
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: When Brutha encounters the philosophers' colloqium:
-->'''Xeno''': We're philosophers. We think therefore we am.\\
'''Ibid''': 'Are'.\\
'''Xeno''': We ''are'' therefore we am.
* ContinuityNod:
** The Ephebian philosophers previously appeared in ''Pyramids'' (which caused a ContinuitySnarl mentioned in ''Thief of Time'' since the books are set a century apart).
** The Librarian is glimpsed rescuing books from the burning Library of Ephebe and then vanishing -- using his skills seen in ''Guards! Guards!'' to navigate through L-Space from one library to another, including through time.
*** It's {{Lampshaded}} as a ContinuityNod cameo by the narration noting that the scene doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the story - it's just nice to know it happened.
** Way back in the fourth book, ''Sourcery,'' Death muses that he dreads those cliched chess games because he can never remember how the knights are supposed to move. Sure enough, when he's playing chess with the Abbot, he has to ask again.
* ConvenientlyCoherentThoughts: Averted - Om can't read minds because they're too chaotic, but he can get a feel for the general shape of them.
-->"You think it's like watching words paint themselves across the sky? Hah! It's like trying to make sense of a bundle of weeds. Intentions, yes. Emotions, yes. But not thoughts. Half the time ''you'' don't know what you're thinking, so why should I?"
* TheCorrupter: [[spoiler:Vorbis is noted at least twice to have a tendency to make those around him more like himself.]]
* CrucifiedHeroShot: [[spoiler:[[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything Brutha is flogged and then strapped to the iron turtle to die slowly and horribly while being mocked]]. The local CMOT Dibbler creates a miniature statue of a tortoise obviously analogous to a crucifix.]]
* CrystalDragonJesus: Om and the religion built around him are a defining example of this trope.
* CutHisHeartOutWithASpoon: Om at the beginning, angered by people ignoring him, says many creative curses, such as "Your intestines to be wound around a tree until you are sorry!" or "Your sexual organs to sprout wings and fly away!"
* DarkerAndEdgier: There's plenty of humour here but the jokes don't come as thick and fast as they do in earlier Literature/{{Discworld}} books. That's because the narrative deals with subjects like torture and religious intolerance that weren't easily laughed off on publication in 1992 any more than they are today. Vorbis is the first Discworld character to be really terrifying. Small Gods marks the beginning of a different tone in the Discworld series, one with more social commentary.
* DeadpanSnarker: Om. Oh so much. After all, a turtle doesn't have many ways to vent its anger.
* DeathEqualsRedemption: In the epilogue, [[spoiler:after a hundred years in the desert with only the company of his own thoughts, Vorbis gets a chance at redemption thanks to Brutha.]]
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment:
--> They went out into the desert but did not come back, preferring a hermit's life of dirt and hardship and dirt and holy contemplation and dirt.\\
There would be talk of holy wars and blood and crusades and blood and piety and blood.
* DeusExMachina: Played with. [[spoiler: A god really does descend from the sky to save the day. Just not in the way you're picturing.]]
* DoomedMoralVictor: [[spoiler:When Brutha is about to be executed, Simony argues that they can't save him, and if they do nothing, his death will become a "symbol for people". Urn is disgusted by this, telling him that [[HeWhoFightsMonsters now he thinks like Vorbis]]. He even muses that the most horrible thing about Vorbis is that he makes other people like himself.]]
* {{Doublethink}}: Vorbis repeatedly refers to the difference between the trivial, surface truth and a deeper, 'fundamental' truth. The latter, of course, is always a convenient justification for his actions.
* DreadfulMusician: Brutha's singing is so awful that he receives special dispensation to be excused from choir practice; the music master says it puts him in mind of a disappointed vulture arriving too late at the dead donkey. Om himself compares it to the lamentations of the plague-stricken.
* TheEasyWayOrTheHardWay: [[spoiler:At the end of the book, Brutha tells Sergeant Simony to stop the Exquisition the hard way--that is, [[InvertedTrope with as few casualties as possible.]]]]
* EnemyMine: At the end, the (usually hostile) countries of Ephebe, Tsort, Djelibeybi and Klatch combine their naval forces to invade Omnia and destroy it once and for all. It doesn't quite work out like that.
* EvilOverlord . {{Subverted}}: The ruler of Ephebe is called the "Tyrant"... because, as with the [[ShownTheirWork original definition of the word]], he didn't inherit his title. Rather, he was democratically elected.
* EveryoneHasStandards: Om at the beginning is very callous and self-centered, but even he's horrified by the torture chambers of the Omnian inquisition.
* {{Expy}}: A two-for-one with Legibus. He appears running down the street, fresh from his (incomplete) bath, naked and soaked (much as Archimedes is reputed to have run into the street shouting excitedly when he realized that objects immersed in fluids displace their own volume of fluid), to a potter's shop to ask for a few mundane items, and a few axiomatic devices. The potter is quite familiar with the routine, having been through it so often that he has a towel belonging to Legibus and some chalk so he can draw some diagrams on the walls (a reference to Albert Einstein, who is reputed to have been so absent-minded in his later years that he would go to his customary diner for breakfast on his way to Princeton University, and discover when he went to pay that he'd left his wallet in the pants he forgot to put on, and would then be given a spare pair kept in the diner for this exact reason).
** According to "The Unseen University Challenge" book, "Brutha's build, his powerful mind, and the fact that his fellow-novices call him the Big Dumb Ox, should remind the discerning of St Thomas Aquinas."
* FantasyCounterpartCulture:
** Although the shape of the world controversy is clearly based on the Catholic Church vs. Galileo, Omnia is more like Iran (the most obvious example of a theocracy to the modern mind). Besides its terrain and climate being remniscent of Iran, its capital city and seat of the Cenobiarch is Kom--compare the Iranian holy city and seat of the Grand Ayatollah, Qom. Dibbler's counterpart is also "Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah", a reference to how Sharia law punishes theft by cutting hands off. WordOfGod confirms this: the novel was inspired by a documentary about Khomeini's Iran.
** Ephebe is clearly Classical Greece (specifically Athens), with Greek-sounding names, philosophers, slavery and democracy.
* FeatheredFiend: The Eagle and its tortoise-crushing skill. ''[[ImplacableMan He'll be back...]]''
* FlatEarthAtheist:
** Simony, who refuses to believe in the existence of the gods even when they're speaking to him ''personally''. Om ''likes'' him because atheism that militant is basically the same as religious belief from the point of view of a god -- they're thinking and talking about the gods as frequently and as strongly as believers, if not more so.
** {{Inverted}} with the Omnian church, who keep insisting the flat world is round. Vorbis proclaims that even if someone traveled to the edge of the world and looked over, it doesn't matter: "Truth lies within, not without. In the words of the Great God Om, as delivered through his chosen prophets. Our eyes may deceive us, but our God never will."
* FlippingHelpless: Om. He took it hard.
* FlowersForAlgernonSyndrome: What Om is very, very afraid of if Brutha should die.
* GambitRoulette: Lu Tze manages [[spoiler:to change the fate of Omnia from centuries of religious war and hideous institutionalised torture to a constitutional theocracy (which means Om has to follow the rules about not killing as well). He does this with a strategically placed pile of compost, sweeping the floor at a crucial moment, and a bucket of cold water.]]
* GeniusDitz: Crossed with IdiotHero in Brutha. Probably the weirdest example, in that he is brilliant, but in a different way then most people understand, and it takes a while for him to get to the point where he can use it.
* AGodAmI: All gods. They don't make 'em humble.
* GodIsFlawed: Om is very far from the omnipotent, omniscient creature Brutha first believes him to be (and he was far from it even before he became a tortoise). It's common for Discworld gods to be less intelligent and moral than their followers.
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly
-->''You're more afraid of him than you are of me, now. Abraxas says here: 'Around the Godde there forms a Shelle of prayers and Ceremonies and Buildings and Priestes and Authority, until at Last the Godde Dies. Ande this maye notte be noticed.' ''
---> --Om, when Brutha refuses his command(ment) to kill Vorbis.
** When Om ''does'' regain a lot of die-hard believers, he's able to beat up Dunmanifestin's chief god Io because nobody believes in thunder gods all that strongly anymore.
* GoodShepherd:
** Brutha guides the spiritual development of ''his own god'', then moves on to the worshippers.
** The wording of the trope is played with; Vorbis is more like a shepherd than Brutha, since sheep are stupid and need to be driven. Brutha is more like a goatherd, since goats are intelligent and need to be led. That early shepherd imparted a bit of wisdom that Om eventually took to heart: the shepherd had a hundred sheep, yet took the trouble to search for a single lost lamb -- after all, his willingness to search for one lost sheep was the ''reason'' he had a hundred.
* GroinAttack: Om utilizes this method to [[spoiler:commandeer the eagle he uses to transport him to the execution site and lay the smack down on Vorbis]]. According to the Annotated Pratchett file, this is [[YouFailBiologyForever anatomically incorrect]], but hey, [[MST3KMantra no reason to let that get in the way of a good joke or plot point]].
* HappinessInSlavery:
** Brutha discovers that the Ephebean slaves have much better working conditions than the (nominally) free Omnians, and slavery offers the chance to earn their freedom and own slaves themselves.
** Vorbis boasts to the Tyrant that in the Omnian language, there is no word for 'slavery'. The Tyrant muses that this is likely similar to fish having no word for 'water'.
* HeelRealization: [[spoiler:Vorbis finally gets this after death, realizing that he'd never actually been following the commandments of a god--that the only voice he'd ever heard came from his ''own head''.]]
* HeWhoFightsMonsters: Sergeant Simony becomes disturbingly zealous in his efforts to overthrow the church of Om, until Urn points out how much like Vorbis he's become.
* TheHorseshoeEffect: The novel features an atheist character of such burning passion that their atheism works just like belief in the gods.
* IgnoringBySinging: Brutha attempts this when he hears Om's voice and thinks it's a demon.
* IllegalReligion: The Omnians have banned all religions other than their state religion, Omnianism. [[spoiler:Brutha later turns this on its head, allowing all religions in Omnia, though Omnianism (in more varied forms than before) is still the prevailing one.]]
* IncorruptiblePurePureness: Brutha. Om becomes a better god as a result of spending time with him.
** At least two characters observe that [[spoiler:Vorbis has a tendency to make good people more like him]]. Brutha spends a lot of time in Vorbis' company but avoids this fate, and is in fact one of the first to realize this.
* IncrediblyInconvenientDeity: [[JustifiedTrope Justified]], where the Great God Om lacks the power to do things in a way that would be at all convenient for TheChosenOne, Brutha, because GodsNeedPrayerBadly and it's gotten to the point where Brutha is the ''only'' one who actually believes in him.
* InexplicablyIdenticalIndividuals: The first appearance of one of [[HonestJohnsDealership Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler]]'s foreign counterparts, Cut-Me-Own-Hand-Off Dhblah, seller of very old yoghurt and very new holy relics.
* ItsAllAboutMe: All gods are completely self-centered. Om in particular didn't care at all what his followers do as long as they worship him. He gets better over the course of the novel.
* IWasNeverHere: The meeting in which Vorbis recruits Brutha for the Ephebe mission ends with Vorbis instructing him: "You were not in this room. You have not seen us here." Earlier narration establishes that this is only the latest of many meetings that have not taken place in Vorbis's office, some of them involving people who traveled long distances in secret in order to not attend them.
* KickTheDog:
** Vorbis, turning Om (whom he believes to be only a tortoise) on his back and props him with pebbles to ensure that he cannot right itself, just to see what would happen.
** Vorbis later forces the captain of the ship he's sailing on to harpoon a porpoise, because sailors generally believe that killing a porpoise is bad luck; a foolish superstition that must be overcome in the fundamental truth of Omnian doctrine. [[spoiler:The sailors are right; Om is forced to make a bargain with the local sea goddess to spare him and Brutha. Later the ship does indeed sink as a direct result of Om's bargain (though a bit of bad luck and timing was involved), though after Om, Brutha, Vorbis and Simony have all disembarked.]]
* LanguageEqualsThought: Fasta Benj, a man from a tiny tribe that is unaware of the rest of the world, gets mixed up in the final conflict when his boat is swept along by the attacking fleet. Thus, his god also appears along the rest of the gods, and forbids him to wage war against Omnia. His people have no word for war, since they have no one to fight, so the god uses the description: "remember when Pacha Moj hit his uncle with big rock? Like that, only more worse." The fisherman comes away with the impression that it's not good if lots of people hit Pacha Moj's uncle with a big rock, though he can't understand why they would.
* LookOnMyWorksYeMightyAndDespair:
** Why Om is very uncomfortable when they take shelter in an abandoned temple in the middle of the desert.
---> '''Om:''' A god lived here. A powerful God. Thousands worshipped it. I can feel it. You know? It comes out of the walls. A Great God. Mighty were his dominions and magnificent was his word. [...] And now no one, not you, not me, no one, even knows who the god was or his name or what he looked like.
** Om had met a small god who had memories of prior greatness, but couldn't even remember its own name [[GodsNeedPrayerBadly now that the worshippers were all gone]]. The temple may well have been to that ''same god''.
* MadScientist: Urn has shades of this. He ''does'' care about morality... when he takes the time off his researches to think about it.
* MeaningfulEcho:
** Om's first follower was a shepherd who had 100 sheep only because he was willing to look for days to find one. Later, Om remarks that if he wants thousands of followers, he needs to fight for one.
** While in the desert, Om says "In a hundred years we'll all be dead," and Brutha replies, "But here and now, ''we are alive!''" A hundred years later, [[spoiler:Brutha dies after being told how long it was since he'd been in the desert--exactly one hundred years. For added irony, his last words were "But here and now, [[KilledMidSentence we]]--"]]
** In the beginning, Vorbis turns Om over in the sun to see how long it'll take for him to die, and Om thinks "I'm on my back, and getting hotter, and I'm going to ''die''..." Then, during the climax, when Vorbis [[spoiler:attempts to execute Brutha on the iron turtle, Brutha thinks ''I'm on my back and getting hotter and I'm going to die...'']]
* MessianicArchetype: [[spoiler:Brutha. He's the only one who can directly talk to his god, he survives a life-changing journey through the desert and he reforms the religion of his country]].
* MonsterShapedMountain: The wind god has rather crude sense of humor, as demonstrated by the shape of an eroded rock pillar that Om points out to Brutha as a desert landmark.
* MotiveDecay: The battle at the end; Brutha goes up to the generals and explains that there's no reason to fight. They look at him like he's an idiot and say that when two sides hate each other enough, sometimes there just has to be ''war''. Any justification will do, even no justification at all.
* MySkullRunnethOver: Brutha experiences discomfort after [[PhotographicMemory memorizing]] the entire Ephebean library. Despite having never learned to read, the information from the books he memorized somehow manages to leak into his mind. Thankfully for Brutha, it never gets worse than said discomfort and knowledge leaks.
* NervousWreck: Brother Nhumrod. Spending enough time in the Citadel will do that to a person.
-->It was, in any case, hard to talk to Brother Nhumrod, who had a nervous habit of squinting at the speaker’s lips and repeating the last few words they said practically as they said them. He also touched things all the time—walls, furniture, people—as if he was afraid the universe would disappear if he didn’t keep hold of it. And he had so many nervous tics that they had to queue. Brother Nhumrod was perfectly normal for someone who had survived in the Citadel for fifty years.
* NeverLearnedToRead: Brutha. Even though he has photographic memory, he was incapable of understanding the concept of reading. His mind could not make the connection between the letters and the sounds.
* NoInfantileAmnesia: Again, Brutha.
-->"What is the first thing you can remember, my son?" said Vorbis, kindly.\\
"There was a bright light, and then someone hit me," said Brutha.
* NonMammalMammaries: Or the male equivalent, considering eagles shouldn't have [[GroinAttack certain anatomical features]] on the outside.
* NotAGame: The gods ''literally'' treat the world of mortals as a game, dice and all. [[spoiler:Om finally realizes it is NotAGame thanks to Brutha. After that, he (brow)beats the other gods into realizing it too.]]
* NotSoImaginaryFriend:
** [[spoiler:Angus is set up as a hallucination of the clearly-mad prophet St. Ungulant. No one else can see/hear him, and he doesn't drink any water because it "[gives] him gas." Then, when the starving lion is primed to kill St. Ungulant, Angus knocks it out with a rock.]] Also a case of FridgeBrilliance: [[spoiler: small gods become real through belief, and St. Ungulant believes in his imaginary friend. It certainly helps that he's the patron saint of small gods.]]
** Indeed, [[spoiler:Om could be considered this to Brutha. For most of the book, no one else can hear Om's words ''but'' Brutha; everyone else thinks Om is just a tortoise, and most believe Brutha is a bit mad in this regard.]]
* ObfuscatingDisability: [[spoiler: Vorbis pulls a chilling example of this on Brutha as they are about to leave the desert.]]
* TheOnlyBeliever: As mentioned earlier, people believe in the structure of the Church and its rules, not the god they actually worship. They have feelings like vague hopes and fears about Om, but no belief. The only exception is Brutha, who believes in Om in the sort of simple, wholehearted way that a young child believes in something that their parents tell them is true.
* PetTheDog: A man comes to Vorbis [[spoiler: bringing word of the proto-tank being built, hoping that it would earn the release of his incarcerated father. Vorbis outright states that he ''knows'' that he would be in league with the rebels if not for his father... and nonetheless orders that the father be released. It appears for a moment that he is baiting him by asking an inquisitor if they know where the man lives, but never follows up on it. Then again, Vorbis may simply not have gotten around to it. He was rather busy from that point until he died.]]
* PhotographicMemory: Brutha, to the extent that [[spoiler:he can copy out books he's only seen once despite not being able to read them himself.]]
** One of the few times (if not the ''only'' time) that Brutha forgets anything is at the very end of the novel[[note]]That it was a hundred years to the day since Brutha's ordeal in the desert[[/note]]. Brutha himself chuckles at the irony of him, with the infallible memory, actually ''forgetting'' something.
* ThePlan: [[spoiler:Vorbis' plans, among other things, include invading Ephebe by sending the Omnian fleet to attack Ephebe directly - and getting burned by a giant Ephebian magnifying glass - partly as a justification to his main plan to cross the desert, helped by several expeditions that left caches of food and water along the way. Pratchett referred to it as "planning your counter-attack before your attack." [[XanatosGambit If the first attack works, excellent. If not, it sets up the second.]]]] Vorbis may be the most frightening villain Pratchett has ever created, because he is essentially what Vetinari would be if he were actually evil and sadistic.
* PunchClockVillain[=/=]JustDoingMyJob - [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]], when describing the torturers of the Exquisition.
--> And it all meant this: that there are hardly any excesses of the most crazed psychopath that cannot easily be duplicated by a normal, kindly family man who just comes in to work every day and has a job to do.
* RealDreamsAreWeirder: Urn says harnessing lightning is the dream of mankind. Didactylos dreams of being chased by giant carrots.
* ReallySevenHundredYearsOld: The History Monks, who use 'circular aging' the way those who play wind instruments use 'circular breathing'.
* RedHerring: The desert lion seems like it'll be important later, but really only exists after the initial encounter to provide a punchline.
* RunningGag:
-->'''Everyone noticing Om for the first time''': "There's good eating on one of those..."
* SecretTestOfCharacter: The desert afterlife, with judgement at the end. The judgement isn't a secret. [[spoiler:Which end of the desert the judgement happens at is.]]
* ShootTheBuilder: "Killing the creator was a traditional method of patent protection."
* ShoutOut:
** There are many references to famous Greek philosophers in the book. In fact, if you know the legend of how [[spoiler:[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeschylus Aeschylus]]]] died, than with some thought it's becomes obvious how [[spoiler:Vorbis]] will die.
** A rather obscure shout-out can be found in the name of one of the ancient prophets of Om: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ish_Kabibble Ishkibble]].
** Speaking of obscure shout-outs, there's one to the educational programming language Logo, of all things (a pun on Logo's "turtle graphics.")
** Terry also manages at least one truly audacious ShoutOut. (Well, he has said that he's disappointed none of his books have yet been bonfired by Deep South Fundamentalists.) When Brutha is in his old familiar garden praying for guidance from a God who has apparently withdrawn himself, when he is frightened of the consequences of disobeying Vorbis but knowing he has to do it, while wishing somebody else would. This is [[Literature/TheBible Jesus Christ]] in the garden of Gethsemane.
** Another rather obscure one; early in the book it is mentioned that some of the crueller novices call Brutha "the big dumb ox". The "dumb ox" was one of several nicknames for [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Aquinas St Thomas Aquinas]] (though "dumb" in his case referred to his not speaking very much, rather than a lack of intelligence,) who re-examined a lot of his Church's dogma in conjunction with natural law and Aristotelian logic, and whose work continues to be extremely influential. One of Aquinas' other nicknames, the "gentle doctor", is also appropriate for Brutha's AllLovingHero status.
* StraightEdgeEvil: Vorbis is an ascetic; aside from being celibate, he only consumes water and dry bread (he actually waits until the fresh bread dries).
* SuperSpeedReading: Brutha, although with the twist that he doesn't understand any of it -- he's just using his photographic memory to memorize the shapes and orders of the letters so he can copy it down again later.
* TankGoodness: Urn invents what is possibly the Disc's first one in the Moving Turtle, though see also ''Discworld/{{Eric}}''.
* ThereIsAGod: PlayedForDrama; the sight of [[spoiler: Brutha being saved from execution and martyrdom by a falling tortoise (Om) striking Vorbis on the head]] is enough of a miracle to instantly restore Om to his full power.
* TimePolice: The History Monks, who ensure the timeline doesn't stray too far from its course.
* TranquilFury: Om, after he realizes his screamed curses and punishments (''Turn into a mud leech and wither in the fires of retribution!'') fail to materialize:
-->'''Om:''' One day I'm going to be back on form again and you're going to be very sorry you said that. For a very long time. I might even go so far as to make more Time just for you to be sorry in.
* VelvetRevolution: Things end the hard way -- which is ''not'' with bloody warfare, as Brutha and Om are able to stop the armies from attacking Omnia.
-->'''Lu-Tze:''' Er... you know the books say that Brutha died and there was a century of terrible warfare?\\
'''The Abbot:''' You know my eyesight isn't what it was, Lu-Tze.\\
'''Lu-Tze:''' Well... it's not entirely like that now.
* VerbalTic: Brother Nhumrod has a habit of repeating the last few words of every sentence said to him.
* WhamLine: Throughout the book, deceased characters end up in an afterlife that takes the form of crossing a desert. They ask Death what lies at the end of the desert, and he replies [[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Judgement ]]
. At the end of the book, [[spoiler:Brutha dies, asks the question and considers Death's answer, and then asks: "''Which'' end?"]]
* WhatTheHellHero:
** Urn gives this to [[HeWhoFightsMonsters Simony]] when he states [[spoiler:he wants to let Brutha die and become an useful martyr for Simony's war against the Church of Omnia]].
** Near the end of the novel, [[spoiler:Brutha chews out Simony, Urn, and company for following him to a parley with the incoming armies when he had previously stated ''he wished to do so alone''--their presence had disrupted the peace talks and were about to precipitate a war.]]
* WhatYouAreInTheDark:
** When Brutha leads Vorbis through a labyrinth, he thinks: "I could run forward. I could hide, and he'd walk into one of the pits or a deadfall or some­thing, and then I could sneak back to my room and who would ever know? I would."
** Also [[spoiler: Vorbis when he is forced to examine himself after death, then Brutha again when he finds him there a century later]].
* WhosOnFirst: Brutha's awkward name is lampshaded when Vorbis thinks of what will happen when he's Brother Brutha. Or even Father Brutha. He concludes they should promote him to subdeacon as soon as possible to avoid this.
* YouCantFightFate - {{Subverted}}: Lu-Tze changes events, and the Discworld's usual RubberBandHistory does not come into play because the History Monks can just edit the books which contain the whole history of the world so it fits his changes.