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I recently spent an excellent time taking part in World Book Night. I was privileged to give away a large number of copies of Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist. On that day a very nice person handed me a copy of Good Omens.
I’ve read all of Neil Gaiman’s novels and short stories and I think he’s wonderful. I particularly love American Gods. I have to confess I’ve never read any Terry Pratchett. I think it’s the sheer number of books he has written that puts me off. If there’s a series I tend to want to read all of them. All. In order. One after the other. And looking at the enormously long list of Discworld novels I almost despair. One day, maybe…
Good Omens is a collaboration between these two giants, written before they were anywhere as famous or rich as they are today. They obviously had a lot of fun writing it together, because it’s a romp. I loved it.
The plot generally concerns the end of the world, on Saturday, and the fact that it was accurately predicted in one book by Agnes Nutter centuries ago. The story starts with the birth of the Antichrist eleven years before and a hapless nurse unfortunately mixing up three babies born on the same ward at the same time.
There’s a huge cast of larger-than-life characters, ranging through very strange adults, small boys and their gangs, a conflicted hound of hell called Dog, a demon and an angel who have quietly co-operated together for millennia and rather like things as they are, and the massed armies of Hell, about to rise up for the final battle and an end to all things. There are also the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse.
This book is very funny, and so madly inventive it reminded me of the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which is an immense compliment from me. The characters and the plot are all collectively wonderful and silly, and I cannot recommend it enough. It works beautifully as an introduction to both these writers. I’m sure all seasoned Pratchett or Gaiman readers will already love it. I’m now going to have to start reading the Discworld series…