This is most commonly cited as grand poobah when I ask people which Discworld novel is their favorite. I'm not sure why.
Now, now--don't pull out the torch and pitchforks just yet. Terry Pratchett is preeminent in the writing of fantasy satire. I even rank religious satire at the peak. I'm just saying I'm not sure why Small Gods is listed in the coveted number one slot of Discworld novels. I mean, who doesn't love trumped up turtles? But even the cute, shelled geniuses can't sway me.
The pacing is incredibly slow, however. It took me forever to read this novel and was honestly sluggish enough I chose to read several other novels before finishing Small Gods. This is the first book I've struggled to complete in some time, and I was surprised it was a Discworld novel.
We clearly are poking fun at organized religion and its disingenuous past in Small Gods. It just isn't as well handled as many of Pratchett's other works. The satire is clunky and pushed full in our face with exhaustive dialogue. Subtlety has been completely lost in the desert with the small gods apparently.
The philosophy versus religion, as well as the crisis of faith, undertones are in some places aggressive and in others passive. Passive-aggressive is annoying. No one likes it. It jars the story telling.
The characters were some of the most lackluster in the Disc's part of the multiverse of any novel I have read so far. I think I may have even liked the Faustian characters better--shiver.
I really didn't like Moving Pictures either, so I guess I just want my satire without cliche. (Is that statement even really allowed to exist?)