7th novel – 1st individual story
|Awards||British Fantasy Award (Best Novel) 1999|
Young Teppic has been in training at the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork for several years. The day after passing his final exam he mystically senses that his father has died and that he must return home. Being the first Djelibeybian king raised outside the kingdom leads to some interesting problems, based on the fact that Dios, the high priest, is a stickler for tradition, and does not, in fact, allow the pharaohs to rule the country.
After numerous adventures and misunderstandings, Teppic is forced to escape from the palace, along with a handmaiden named Ptraci. Meanwhile, the massive pyramid being built for Teppic's father warps space-time so much that it "rotates" Djelebeybi out of alignment with the space/time of the rest of the disc by 90 degrees. Teppic and Ptraci travel to Ephebe to consult with the philosophers there as to how to get back inside the Kingdom. Meanwhile, pandemonium takes hold in Djelibeybi, as the kingdom's multifarious gods descend upon the populace, and all of Djelibeybi's dead rulers come back to life.
Eventually, Teppic re-enters the Kingdom and attempts to destroy the Great Pyramid, with the help of all of his newly resurrected ancestors. They are confronted by Dios, who, it turns out, is as old as the kingdom itself, and has advised every pharaoh in the history of the Kingdom. Dios hates change and thinks Djelibeybi should stay the same. Teppic succeeds in destroying the Pyramid, returning Djelibeybi to the real world and sending Dios back through time (where he meets the original founder of the Kingdom, thereby restarting the cycle). Teppic then abdicates, allowing Ptraci (who turns out to be his half-sister) to rule. Ptraci immediately institutes much-needed changes.
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The novel parodies the "Pyramid power" myth by portraying it as real on the Discworld. In a similar way to the "procrastinator" cylinders of the History Monks, pyramids on the Discworld can redirect the flow of time like a dam in a river. If built properly they can create a region of null time in the burial chamber, preserving the body of the Pharaoh forever. In Teppic's time this has been forgotten and the body is mummified in the Egyptian manner. The High Priest Dios uses a small pyramid to rejuvenate himself from time to time. This has allowed him to live since the founding of the country, although he does not remember how he came to be in charge.
When a pyramid is complete it must "flare off" the Time in its reservoir. This is visible as light emitted from the peak at night. During the day the pyramid's black marble cladding is ice-cold from the effects of time diversion. The pyramid built for Teppic's late father is so big that, before it can be capped to flare off all the Time in the stonework, it warps space and causes the country of Djelibeybi to disappear from the Discworld.
The novel also uses Pratchett's theme of the power of belief on the Discworld. As told in Small Gods, the gods of the Discworld gain their power from the belief of their followers. In Djelibeybi the people believe that the Pharaoh is a god, so Teppic finds himself with godlike powers which he eventually uses. These are mostly powers of fertility, causing corn to sprout wherever he walks, but he also uses the power to part the waters of the river Djel.
This novel is the first to feature a detailed description of the school of the Assassins Guild, and the nature of the Assassins' art and weaponry.
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|Reading order guide|
|7th Discworld Novel||Succeeded by
|1st Individual Story
Published in 1989