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''Hard to Be a God'' (Russian: "Трудно быть богом" ''Trudno byt' bogom'') is the fourth novel by the Creator/StrugatskyBrothers to be set in the Franchise/NoonUniverse.

The novel follows Anton, who goes by the name Don Rumata on his job as an undercover Earthling observer (not a "progressor", the institute of progressors was only created later) on a [[TheDungAges Dung Ages]] planet going through a Renaissance and a religious backlash, just starting to border on a full-blown Inquisition. Notable as an exploration of the AlienNonInterferenceClause concept.

The novel was adapted into two films: a 1989 German production by Peter Fleischman and a 2014 Russian production by Aleksei German. It was followed by a [[http://tbb.akella.com/eng/index2eng.html computer game]] that served as a sequel.
!!Tropes found in the novel:

* TheAce: Rumata gives off this impression to the people of Arkanar. It helps that he's aided by advanced Earthling technology.
* AddledAddict: Father Kabani, who descended into alcoholism after seeing too many of his inventions be used for war and violence, and is a complete wreck when we see him.
* TheAlcoholic: Many Arkanarians drink copiously.
* AlienNonInterferenceClause: [[spoiler:Not exactly, the novel is in between the non-interference era and the progressors era. Rumata is saving scientists from prosecution, but isn't allowed to influence political matters.]]
* BecomingTheMask: In morality level. The greatest fear of all human watchers.
* BeingGodIsHard: This is the topic of the book. Even though the [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien Sufficiently Advanced Earthlings]] are not literally gods by any measure, to the native HumanAlien population of Arkanar, they are, with all the expectations and responsibilities that come with it.
* BerserkButton: [[spoiler: Never, ever hurt Kira.]]
* {{BFS}}: Pampa wields a giant zweihander. At one point he fends off a group of storm troopers by swinging it around above his head like a helicopter blade.
%%* BigBad: Don Reba.
%%* BlackShirt: The Grey Stormtroopers.
%%* BoisterousBruiser: Baron Pampa.
* CatchPhrase: "I see no reason for noble dons not to do X" by Don Sera. X can be anything from playing dice to getting whipped by the inquisition. Achieved memetic status in Russia.
%%* TheChessmaster: Don Reba.
%%* ChildrenAreInnocent: Prince, Uno.
%%* ChurchMilitant: The Holy Order.
* ColdBloodedTorture: Happens to enemies of the state.
%%* CorruptChurch
* CrapsackWorld: After a series of ill-advised wars that all ended in losses, common people in Arkanar are living in extreme poverty and the nobles struggle to hold on to their wealth. The king is incompetent and the kingdom's educational system is in shambles. The kingdom is surrounded by hostile powers on all sides. The only people who really thrive are the Grey Stormtroopers and the local criminal gang. You can pretty much count on everything that shows the slightest hint of goodness being twisted, corrupted, used in the service of darkness or outright destroyed. Considering the [[TheDungAges state of public sanitation in Arkanar]], this is almost literal.
* CruelAndUnusualDeath: In the 2013 movie, one man is ''drowned in shit'' for the crime of writing poetry.
%%* DarkerAndEdgier: The movie.
%%* DeadpanSnarker: Rumata.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: The royal court is filled with vapid, self-obsessed aristocrats who have no interest in the affairs of the country.
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler: Baron Pampa and Arata in the movie.]]
* DeathByGenreSavvy: [[spoiler: Reba, who counted too much on Rumata's ThouShallNotKill.]]
%%* DeliberatelyMonochrome: The 2013 movie.
* TheDon: Waga the Wheel controls almost all the organized crime in Arkanar.
%%* DownerEnding
* DualWielding: Anton/Don Rumata is famous for his awesome-yet-practical fighting style. So awesome-yet-practical, in fact, it was seen as evidence of his supposed DealWithTheDevil.
%%* TheDungAges: A particularly bleak example.
* {{Dystopia}}: Arkanar.
* TheEmpire: The entire Gulf region (which the Kingdom of Arkanar is part of) is officially ruled by one of those. The problem is that Empire has been on a slow decline for centuries, gradually losing control of all of its outlying "provinces." By the time the novel opens, most outlying provinces are acting as independent powers in all the ways that matter. So long as they never formally break their ties from the Empire, the emperors seem content to let them do that (though the novel strongly suggests that the Empire couldn't rein in its former subjects even if it wanted to).
%%* EvilChancellor: Don Reba.
* EvilCripple: Arata the Hunchback, though he's more morally ambiguous than evil.
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: A mixture of Late Medieval / Renaissance Italy, Spain, and France, complete with Romance-sounding names and titles.
** WordOfGod states that Arkanar was designed with Japanese flavor: for example, the "Don" honorific stems not from Spanish "don", but from Japanese "dono". Two swords of noble Dons remind of samurai swords...
%%* FatBastard: Reba in the movie.
* LeFilmArtistique: Aleksei Gehrman's adaptation, for better or worse. A rare example of the film being even weirder and darker than the book.
%%* FromBadToWorse: and worse and worse.
%%* FromNobodyToNightmare: Don Reba.
* FullCircleRevolution: Arata witnesses several circles of the revolution. Avoiding this circle is the reason for the AlienNonInterferenceClause.
* TheGenericGuy: Reba is described as being an utterly average and forgettable man who was simply lucky enough to secure a high ranking position in the government.
* GodGuise: Rumata attempts to avert this, but people who know him well enough realize that he cannot be human and ClarkesThirdLaw [[SufficientlyAdvancedAlien corollary]] applies. Still, while some (Dr. Budakh, Kira) see a god in him, others ([[spoiler:Don Reba, Arata]]) think he is a devil.
* AGodAmI: Rumata. Far from the usual use of this trope, however, which usually overlaps with DrunkWithPower, Rumata is instead nigh incapacitated by the responsibility and duty that comes with being a god and that is, quite obviously, too much for an individual who is most definitely a human.
%%* GoodIsNotNice: Arata.
* GrandInquisitorScene: The scene where Rumata confronts Reba in his office [[spoiler: after his coup of the country]] is an almost literal example.
* GreaterScopeVillain: The Holy Order are the power behind Reba.
%%* HumansAreBastards
* KillTheCutie. [[spoiler: Twice. Uno and Kira are both dead by the end.]]
* TheIngenue: Kira, probably the most innocent (and, more importantly to Anton, Earthling-like) girl in Arkanar.
* InfantImmortality: Averted. [[spoiler: The young prince is brutally murdered by Grey soldiers while Rumata watches. That same night, Uno is killed during an attempted break-in.]]
* InherentInTheSystem: The reason why Rumata can't change Arkanar for the better.
* LowerClassLout: Many Arkanarian peasants, who cheer on the slaughter of intellectuals and support the transformation of Arkanar into a fascist dictatorship.
* MagicalAccessory: Don Rumata's camera circlet, from the natives' POV.
* MasterSwordsman: Don Rumata is universally acknowledged as the best swordsman in the Estorian metropole. Justified by the facts that his [[WeWillHavePerfectHealthInTheFuture physical condition is superior to any native]] and that his swordfighting techniques wouldn't be discovered in Arkanar for another couple of centuries. Still, even the best swordsman cannot hold long [[RealityEnsues against multiple attackers, all of whom are larger than himself]]. Especially when he is hampered by ThouShallNotKill rule.
* MindScrew: The 2013 movie is ''weird'' in its execution. Combined with the fact that the story is pretty dark to begin with, it verges on SurrealHorror.
* MoodDissonance: The narrating style is somewhat lighthearted, with many funny moments thrown in. The overall story... isn't.
* MutilationConga: Arata has endured one after leading and losing many uprisings.
* ANaziByAnyOtherName: The Grey Stormtroopers.
** The Monks supplanting the Grey Stormtroopers works like the SS supplanting the SA.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Nice job helping Reba [[spoiler: to kill a king]], Rumata!
** Also, Rumata's [[spoiler: RoaringRampageOfRevenge]] will only make the situation worse, and he himself at one point explains why.
** And before the book's events, other humans tried to interfere, with disastrous results.
** And the dialogue between Rumata and Budakh implies that '''everything''' Earthlings could do would result in this.
* NoHistoricalFiguresWereHarmed: WordOfGod claims that Don Reba is inspired by Lavrentiy Beria, StateSec chief during the [[UsefulNotes/JosephStalin Stalinist era]]. The character was even called Don Rebia in an early draft.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Rumata pretends to be another vain nobleman to disguise his true intention of rescuing intellectuals.
* OutGambitted: [[spoiler: Tsupick, Aba, and Rumata--all by Don Reba. However, ultimately Reba makes a fatal mistake and is killed by Rumata.]]
* PersecutedIntellectuals: Intellectuals of all kinds (derisively dubbed "book-readers") are persecuted by the EvilChancellor Don Reba and his stormtroopers, [[spoiler:to better prepare the country for annexation by an Enlightenment-hating theocracy]].
%%* TheQuisling: [[spoiler: Don Reba, to the Holy Order.]]
%%* RebelLeader: Arata.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: [[spoiler: After Kira's death, Rumata goes on a rampage through Arkanar and kills Don Reba, along with dozens of soldiers.]]
--> '''Rumata''': God, if you exist, please stop me.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: Arata's final goal is the bloody overthrow of the feudal system.
* SceneryGorn: Plenty of this in the movie. Arkanar is a hideous place.
%%* SmugSnake: Don Reba.
* [[SufficientlyAdvancedAliens Sufficiently Advanced Earthlings]]
* ThouShaltNotKill: Most Earthlings strictly follow this rule (as an exception, we hear about an Earthling, who, posing as a guard officer, tried to stop witches' burning by ordering his soldiers to shoot the executioners. He failed).
%%* ThoseTwoGuys: Don Sera and Don Tameo.
* TitleDrop: Rumata thinks "It's hard to be a god" during a conversation with Arata.
* UnstoppableRage: Rumata goes into one after [[spoiler: Kira is killed.]]
%%* UpperClassTwit: Don Sera, Don Tameo and the other nobles.
* UrbanLegendLoveLife: Rumata has to keep up the reputation of the real Rumata, who was, it appears, a bit of Casanova. Alas, Rumata cannot bring himself to sleep with local ladies--because of his morality and because they're so damn ''dirty''. He manages to arrange matters so that noble women lie about their affairs with him because of their pride.
* VestigialEmpire: On paper, Arkanar is still a province of the Estor metropoly, but nowadays it doesn't mean much. Notably, once Rumata claims that he is of much nobler birth that even Arkanarin king.
* WhatMeasureIsAMook: [[spoiler: Subverted. Rumata's slaughter of the soldiers is portrayed as a total moral failure.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: In the finale, Rumata [[spoiler: goes berserk and slaughters dozens of people to get to Don Reba and kill him off.]]
%%* WretchedHive: Arkanar.
* YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness: Happens to the Grey Stormtroopers as a whole when the Holy Order arrives.
* {{Zeerust}}: Back when the novel was written ''nylon underwear'' seemed to be futuristic...