Pyramids (novel)

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First edition
AuthorTerry Pratchett
Cover artistJosh Kirby
Publication date
15. June 1989
AwardsBritish Fantasy Award (Best Novel) 1989
Preceded byWyrd Sisters 
Followed byGuards! Guards! 

Pyramids is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett, published in 1989, the seventh book in his Discworld series.[1] It won the BSFA Award for Best Novel[2] in 1989.

Plot summary[edit]

The main character of Pyramids is Teppic (short for Pteppicymon XXVIII), the crown prince of the tiny kingdom of Djelibeybi (a pun on the candy Jelly Baby), the Discworld counterpart to Ancient Egypt. The kingdom, founded seven-thousand years ago and formerly a great empire within the continent of Klatch, has been in debt and recession for generations due to the construction of pyramids for the burial of its pharaohs.

Young Teppic has been in training at the Assassins Guild in Ankh-Morpork for the past seven years. The day after passing his final exam by chance 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, as Dios, the high priest, is a stickler for tradition, and does not actually allow the pharaohs to rule the country.

After numerous adventures and misunderstandings, Teppic (now Pteppicymon XXVIII) is forced to escape from the palace with a handmaiden named Ptraci, who was condemned to death for not wishing to die and serve the last king in the afterlife (despite Teppic wishing to pardon her). Meanwhile, the massive pyramid being built for Teppic's father (or, rather, in reaction to Dios's rejection of the old pharaoh's wish not to be buried in a pyramid) warps space-time so much that it "rotates" Djelibeybi out of alignment with the space/time of the rest of the Disc by ninety 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. Also, the nations of Ephebe and Tsort prepare for war with one another, as Djelibeybi can no longer act as a buffer zone between the two.

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, Teppic decides to travel the Disc, and Death comes to ferry the former rulers of Djelibeybi to the afterlife.


  • Dios, the High Priest of Djelibeybi
  • Teppic (short for Pteppicymon), the son of Pteppicymon XXVII, the late king of Djelibeybi, who left the kingdom to train at the Assassin's Guild of Ankh-Morpork as a boy
  • Chidder, one of Teppic's classmates
  • Ptraci, a handmaiden of the late king and Teppic's half-sister
  • Dil and Gurn, master and apprentice embalmers tasked with mummifying Pteppicymon XXVII
  • Ptaclusp I, Ptaclusp IIa and Ptaclusp IIb, the pyramid-building dynasty tasked with the construction of the Great Pyramid

Major themes[edit]

The novel portrays a "time polder", a bubble which comprises a particular slice of history and a particular bit of geography. In this "polder", history repeats itself through Dios, and critic Stefan Ekman argues that a central theme of the novel is the struggle breaking free from the "polder", of leaving one's background behind.[3]


  1. ^ Fantastic Fiction Pyramids (Discworld, book 7) by Terry Pratchett Retrieved 2009-05-9
  2. ^ "1989 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 28 September 2009.
  3. ^ Ekman, Stefan. (2013) Here Be Dragons: Exploring Fantasy Maps and Settings. Wesleyan University Press, p. 125.

External links[edit]

Reading order guide
Preceded by 7th Discworld Novel Succeeded by
Preceded by
1st Individual Story
Published in 1989
Succeeded by