Pyramids: (the book of going forth) a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
A re-read, and not one of my favourite Discworld books. Which of course still makes it one of the better books this month.
Teppic is attending the Assassins’ School in Ankh-Morpork; it is considered one of the bests schools in the city, and possibly the known Discworld. Boys go in, and young men come out, able to handle any social situation, especially if it involves killing–excuse me, inhuming–someone. Assuming, of course, that they come out alive. Teppic is also the heir to the Pharoah of Djelibeybi (translates as “Child of the Djel”, the Djel being the name of the river that runs through it). Try saying it out loud. Shortly after he does his final test and graduates, he also becomes Pharoah, his father, being slightly dotty, having tried to fly.
Pteppic returns home, intending to bring modernity to Djelibehbi, but he has reckoned without the tremendous weight of the Kindom’s stratified society. He also reckoned without the power of the High Priest Dios, who has been making sure the right things happen for a long time now. Given that the kingdom is basically broke due to paying off all the pyramids, this takes some doing; fortunately Dios is up to the task. At least, it’s fortunate for him; not so much for Pteppic, who soon finds himself ordering the bigget pyramid ever for his late father. This is bad because pyramids act as dams and reservoirs of time and the biggest pyramid ever is going to bend time, and therefor space, around it.
Even with the assistance of his handmaiden Ptraci and the greatest mathematician on the Disc, can Pteppic escape from the Old Kingdom’s pocket of time? And if he can, can he get back again to set things right?
This one’s a little . . . weird, even for the Discworld. It doesn’t feel like it quite hangs together, though it’s certainly well-written enough. Of course, it’s only book seven in the series, and though it looks briefly at the issue of religion, that would be better explored in Small Gods, and time and death would be looked at in Thief of Time. I think it’s significant that none of the characters nor the Kingdom of Djelbehbi would be mentioned again in future books. Still, it’s amusing enough, and might be worth the price of admission for the scene in which Pteppic solves the riddle of the Sphinx.
Oh, and the mind-blowing part? The climax, of course. ;-P
Akira: book 5 by Katsuhiro Otomo
Of course, if I’m mentioning minds being blown there must be an Akira book in the mix somewhere. Volume five brings matters closer to the climax of the story, opening with the US naval flotilla off the coast of Japan receiving a Russian scientist to join the already international band aboard an aircraft carrier. They are, of course, intending to study Akira from a (hopefully safe) distance — but is any distance safe with Tetsuo’s powers growing so quickly? We do get an explaination — or at least a guess — as to why Tetsuo’s body keeps undergoing these grotesque metamorphoses (used dramatically but, like so much, never explained, in the movie). We also learn why Akira is the way he is.
The US task force sends an elite team to take out Akira . . . but they aren’t the only ones attacking. And Tetsuo unleashes his power and makes his mark on the world . . . or on some world, anyway.