Pyramids (novel)

1989 novel by Terry Pratchett

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Pyramids is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, published in 1989, the seventh book in his Discworld series.


All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published in January 2008 by Harper, ISBN# 978-0-06-102065-0
Never trust a species that grins all the time. It's up to something.
  • No one knows the reason for all this, but it is probably quantum. (p. 3)
  • All assassins had a full-length mirror in their rooms, because it would be a terrible insult to anyone to kill them when you were badly dressed. (p. 5)
  • There was not a lot that could be done to make Morpork a worse place. A direct hit by a meteorite, for example, would count as gentrification. (p. 6)
  • The important thing is not how many people you inhume, it's how many fail to inhume you. (pp. 20-21)
  • 'Kiddo? I'll have you know the blood of Pharaohs runs in my veins!'
The other boy looked at him unabashed, with his head on one side and a faint smile on his face.
'Would you like it to stay there?' he said. (p. 22)
  • His mother, as far as he could remember, had been a pleasant woman and as self-centred as a gyroscope. (p. 29)
  • It was said that life was cheap in Ankh-Morpork. This was, of course, completely wrong. Life was often very expensive; you could get death for free. (p. 35)
  • Look into the face of a man who will kill you for a belief and your nostrils will snuff up the scent of abomination. Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. No, we do it for the money. And because we above all must know the value of a human life, we do it for a great deal of money. There can be few cleaner motives, shorn of all pretense.(p. 46)
  • The culture of the river kingdom had a lot to say about death and what happened afterward. In fact it had very little to say about life, regarding it as a sort of inconvenient prelude to the main event and something to be hurried through as politely as possible. (p. 56)
  • The king looked surprised.
"I understood that Death came as a three-headed giant scarab beetle," he said.
Death shrugged. Well. Now you know. (p. 56)
  • When you die, the first thing you lose is your life. The next thing is your illusions. (p. 58)
  • "Are you all right, O jeweled master of the sun?" one of them ventured.
"No, I'm not," snapped the king, who was having some of his basic assumptions about the universe severely rattled, and that never puts anyone in a good mood. (p. 59)
  • That was extremely symbolic as well, although no one could remember what of. (p. 62)
  • Whatever his eyes were focused on wasn't occupying the usual set of dimensions. (p. 65)
  • Funny, that. When he was alive it had all seemed so sensible, so obvious. Now he was dead it looked a huge waste of effort. (p. 71)
  • Ritual and ceremony in their due times kept the world under the sky and the stars in their courses. It was astonishing what ritual and ceremony could do. (p. 77)
  • Those first pyramids had been built by human beings, little bags of thinking water held up briefly by fragile accumulations of calcium, who had cut rocks into pieces and then painfully put them back together again in a better shape. (p. 96)
  • A few stars had been let out early. Teppic looked up at them. Perhaps, he thought, there is life somewhere else. On the stars, maybe. If it's true that there are billions of universes stacked alongside one another, the thickness of a thought apart, then there must be people elsewhere.
But wherever they are, no matter how mightily they try, no matter how magnificent the effort, they surely can't manage to be as godawfully stupid as us. I mean, we work at it. We were given a spark of it to start with, but over hundreds of thousands of years we've really improved on it. (p. 96)
  • You scrimped and saved to send them to the best schools, and then they went and paid you back by getting educated. (p. 100)
  • "Therefore I will have dinner sent in," said the priest. "It will be roast chicken."
"I hate chicken."
Dios smiled. "No sire. On Wednesdays the King always enjoys chicken, sire." (p. 132)
  • Mere animals couldn't possibly manage to act like this. You need to be a human being to be really stupid. (p. 135)
  • It's a fact as immutable as the Third Law of Sod that there is no such thing as a good Grand Vizier. A predilection to cackle and plot is apparently part of the job spec.
High priests tend to get put in the same category. They have to face the implied assumption that no sooner do they get the funny hat than they're issuing strange orders, e.g., princesses tied to rocks for itinerant sea monsters and throwing little babies in the sea.
This is a gross slander. Throughout the history of the Disc most high priests have been serious, pious and conscientious men who have done their best to interpret the wishes of the gods, sometimes disembowelling or flaying alive hundreds of people in a day in order to make sure they're getting it absolutely right. (p. 144)
  • "Well, yes," said the IIa, very embarrassed, because interfering with the divine flow of money was alien to his personal religion. (p. 154)
  • It's not for nothing that advanced mathematics tends to be invented in hot countries. It's because of the morphic resonance of all the camels, who have that disdainful expression and famous curled lip as a natural result of an ability to do quadratic equations. (p. 171)
  • The fact is that camels are far more intelligent than dolphins.*
* Never trust a species that grins all the time. It's up to something. (p. 171)
  • Camels gallop by throwing their feet as far away from them as possible and then running to keep up. (p. 175)
  • Belief is a force. It's a weak force, by comparison with gravity; when it comes to moving mountains, gravity wins every time. (p. 202)
  • No one is more worried by the actual physical manifestation of a god than his priests; it's like having the auditors in unexpectedly. (p. 203)
  • Teppic stared into his wine mug. These men are philosophers, he thought. They had told him so. So their brains must be so big that they have room for ideas that no one else would consider for five seconds. On the way to the tavern Xeno had explained to him, for example, why it was logically impossible to fall out of a tree. (p. 213)
  • They are great minds, he told himself. These are men who are trying to work out how the world fits together, not by magic, not by religion, but just by inserting their brains in whatever crack they can find and trying to lever it apart. (p. 225)
  • The Ephebians made wine out of anything they could put in a bucket, and ate anything that couldn't climb out of one. (p. 226)
  • Nature abhors dimensional abnormalities, and seals them neatly away so that they don't upset people. Nature, in fact, abhors a lot of things, including vacuums, ships called the "Marie Celeste", and the chuck keys for electric drills. (p. 230)
  • Ptraci didn't just derail the train of thought, she ripped up the rails, burned the stations and melted the bridges for scrap. (p. 243)
  • "You're a criminal?" said Teppic.
"Well, criminal's a dirty word, know what I mean?" said the little ancestor. "I'd prefer entrepreneur. I was ahead of my time, that's my trouble." (p. 246)
  • Battle elephants! Teppic groaned. Tsort went in for battle elephants, too. Battle elephants were the fashion lately. They weren't much good for anything except trampling on their own when they inevitably panicked, so the military minds on both sides had responded by breeding bigger elephants. Elephants were impressive. (p. 256)
  • The Sphinx is an unreal creature. It exists solely because it has been imagined. (p. 264)
  • The crowds were still outside. Religion had ruled in the Old Kingdom for the best part of seven thousand years. Behind the eyes of every priest present was a graphic image of what would happen if the people ever thought, for one moment, that it ruled no more. (pp. 270-271)
  • Dios sat on the steps of the throne and stared gloomily at the floor. The gods didn't listen. He knew that. He knew that, of all people. But it had never mattered before. It was the ritual that was important, not the gods. The gods were there to do the duties of a megaphone, because who else would people listen to? (p. 271)
  • The trouble with gods is that after enough people start believing in them, they begin to exist. And what begins to exist isn't what was originally intended. (p. 297)
  • The noise stopped, filling the air with the dark metallic clang of sudden silence. (p. 301)
  • What he wanted, he decided, was a priest. They had to be useful for something, and this seemed the sort of time one might need one. For solace, or possibly, he felt obscurely, to beat their head in with a rock. (p. 303)
  • She had a number of stoutly-held views on a variety of subjects, but most of them involved the flaying alive of people she disapproved of. This meant most people under the age of thirty-five, to start with. (p. 310)
  • Just because fate throws you together doesn't mean fate's got it right. (p. 312)
  • He'd wanted changes. It was just that he wanted things to stay the same, as well. (p. 315)
  • This is most irregular
We're sorry. It's not our fault.
How many of you are there?
More than 1300, I'm afraid
Very well, then. Please form an orderly queue. (p. 318)
  • It's a mistake trying to cheer up camels. You may as well drop meringues into a black hole. (p. 319)

Quotes needing to be placed:

  • Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn't believing. It's where belief stops, because it isn't needed any more.
  • From here he could see past the long, low bulk of the palace and across the river to the Great Pyramid itself. It was almost hidden in dark clouds, but what he could see of it was definitely wrong. He knew it had four sides, and he could see all eight of them.
It seemed to be moving in and out of focus, which he felt instinctively was a dangerous thing for several million tons of rock to do.
  • He [Ptaclusp] put his arms around his sons' shoulders.
"Lads", he said proudly. "It's looking really quantum"
  • However, it is well known that most people don't listen. They use the time when someone else is speaking to think of what they're going to say next.
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