The recently premiered mini-series, Good Omens, on Amazon Prime is currently all the rage on my twitter feed. The series is an adaptation of the thirty-year-old cult novel, written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. At the moment, it seems like it’s either being reviewed, analyzed, raved about, or involved in hilarious misunderstandings instigated by Evangelicals Christians.
I recently reviewed the book and binged the six-episode series the same day it premiered. Before I watched the show, I planned to write a “Book to TV Adaptation” post like the ones I did for American Gods and Killing Eve.
However, after watching the show, I don’t think it’s necessary. The mini-series is a well-made, faithful adaptation of the book, without any major or significant changes to the story. It’s a one-off series, with no plans for another season. What you get when you watch the show is, Good Omens, the book, in a mini-series format.
But, as is the case with many adaptations, Good Omens might be the first time many viewers come across Neil Gaiman and/or Terry Pratchett.
As a fan of both authors, I’ve put together a short list of recommendations of their individual work to give you an idea of where to go next.
Sir Terry Prathcett, who sadly passed away in 2015, was an extremely productive author but is probably most known for his wast Discworld series. What originally started as a parody of the fantasy genre, grew into a cult series spanning forty-one books. I write more about the series HERE.
It’s fair to say that, in terms of style, tone, and humor, Terry Pratchett’s authorial voice is the dominant one in Good Omens. If you like the series, you’ll probably enjoy at least some of the Discworld novels. Limiting myself to the style and themes explored in Good Omens, here are my top recommendations.
‘Look after the dead,’ said the priests, ‘and the dead will look after you.’ Wise words in all probability, but a tall order when, like Teppic, you have just become the pharaoh of a small and penniless country rather earlier than expected, and your treasury is unlikely to stretch to the building of a monumental pyramid to honor your dead father. He’d had the best education money could buy of course, but unfortunately, the syllabus at the “Assassin’s Guild” in Ankh-Morpork did not cover running a kingdom and basic financial acumen…
The seventh novel in the Discworld series and the first featuring a stand-alone protagonist. This book is a hilarious religious satire set in the Discworld equivalent of Ancient Egypt. It stars Pharaoes, power-hungry priests, misbehaving Pyramids, Gods gone wild, sassy camels, and malicious mummies.
This is one of my Top 10 favorite Discworld novels. You can read my review of Pyramids HERE.
‘Just because you can’t explain it, doesn’t mean it’s a miracle.’ In the beginning, was the Word. And the Word was: “Hey, you!” This is the Discworld, after all, and religion is a controversial business. Everyone has their own opinion, and indeed their own gods, of every shape and size, and all elbowing for space at the top. In such a competitive environment, shape and size can be pretty crucial to make one’s presence felt. So it’s certainly not helpful to be reduced to appearing in the form of a tortoise, a manifestation far below god-like status in anyone’s book. In such instances, you need an acolyte, and fast: for the Great God Om, Brutha the novice is the Chosen One – or at least the only One available. He wants peace and justice and brotherly love. He also wants the Inquisition to stop torturing him now, please…
Continuing on the same theme, we move on to the thirteenth Discworld novel, Small Gods.
If you Google around for lists where people rank their favorite Discworld novels, it’s a fair bet that this will rank high on most. Like with Pyramids, it features a new character that only appears as a protagonist in this book. This makes it the perfect place to jump from Good Omens into the Discworld.
Small Gods is a fantastic satire of religious zealots, fundamentalism, and theology. As well as the nature of belief, what Gods are and how they are created, and the difference between organized religion and personal belief.
Small Gods has also been adapted into a graphic novel.
Eric is the Discworld’s only demonology hacker. The trouble is, he’s not very good at it. All he wants is the usual three wishes: to be immortal, rule the world, and have the most beautiful woman fall madly in love with him. The usual stuff. But what he gets is Rincewind, the Disc’s most incompetent wizard, and Rincewind’s Luggage (the world’s most dangerous travel accessory) into the bargain. Terry Pratchett’s hilarious take on the Faust legend stars many of the Discworld’s most popular characters in a wild adventure that will leave Eric wishing once more – this time, quite fervently, that he’d never been born.
If your favorite part of Good Omens were the demons, then the Discworld’s own interpretation of Faust might be your thing. This little book, it’s just over 200 pages, is Pratchett’s own take on the Faust legend (with some Dante and his inferno thrown in) and features a Dungeon Dimension, demons, and a demonology hacker.
One thing worth noting is that the books featuring Rincewind as a protagonist have a very different tone and style than the previous two on this list. Where Pyramids and Small Gods rely on satire and irony, this book leans heavily on situation comedy and slapstick humor. It’s not among my personal favorites, but it might be yours.
If you thought DEATH and his horsemen (and women) rocked those motorcycles, the five Discworld novels starring DEATH as the main protagonists might be right up your alley.
Granted, Discworld’s DEATH is a more well-rounded and sympathetic character, he’s quite lovable actually. Of all the characters and protagonist on the Discworld, none contemplates and explores what it means to be human more than this cat loving, anthropomorphic personification.
The other horsemen turn up now and then throughout the novels, the motorcycle only shows-up once, but Binky the horse is pretty awesome.
As with most novels in the Discworld series, it’s entirely possible to read them as stand-alone novels. However, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the longterm character development if you read them in their chronological order, which is; Mort, Reaper Man, Soul Music, Hogfather, and Theif of Time.
You can read my review of Mort HERE.
I’m in no way as well-versed in the works of Neil Gaiman as I am with Terry Prathcett. What I have read, I’ve loved. That being said, jumping directly from Good Omens into Gaiman’s books without any beforehand knowledge might throw you.
Gaiman is an incredible author, few can create the atmosphere, dream landscapes, and over-all weirdness that he can. But, as an author, he’s not really a comedic writer. His books are not void of humor, but you won’t find the type of comedy featured in, Good Omens in his individual work.
That being said, Good Omens was originally his idea, and he does explore themes like Gods and the nature of belief in his novels.
Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr. Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.
Together they embark on a profoundly strange journey across the heart of the USA, whilst all around them, a storm of preternatural and epic proportions threatens to break.
Scary, gripping, and deeply unsettling, American Gods takes a long, hard look into the soul of America. You’ll be surprised by what – and who – it finds there…
If you want to transition from Good Omens into Neil Gaiman’s wonderful world of weirdness, American Gods, is the natural entry point.
If the thought of taking on this brick-sized book daunts you, you have options; it’s been adapted into a comic as well as an ongoing tv-series. I write more about the novel and the TV-series in THIS post.
There’s also a stand-alone novel set in the same universe, Anansi Boys. If you’re looking for humor, this is probably as close as you’ll get with Gaiman.
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.
Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family…
Like Good Omens, this book features a young boy and the supernatural. I love the narration and atmosphere in this book, it’s a lovely, creepy, imaginative story.
Gaiman actually reads this himself in the audiobook version, and he’s fantastic. I highly recommend listening to this book instead of reading it.
New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.
An occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey, Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.
I’m heading into uncharted territory here since I’ve yet to read this classic. But, I recommended Terry Pratchett’s, DEATH and I feel this list would be incomplete without including Neil Gaiman’s, Death.
Obviously, I can’t personally recommend this work but, considering the cult status this comic has achieved, I think it’s safe to say that it’s probably really, really good.
Terry Prathcett and Neil Gaiman both have an impressive bibliography. There’s simply a lot of books to choose from. Personally, although I enjoyed Good Omens, I think these two authors are even better when they write separately and can fully commit to their personal style, tone, and voice.
If you stumbled onto the mini-series with no previous knowledge of either author’s work, you’re lucky enough to potentially have hundreds, if not thousands of hours of entertainment in front of you. If you decide to give either author a try, keep in mind that, as individual authors, they are very different, so if you find that you don’t like one, you might love the other.
For those of you who are fans of one, or both authors, why not leave a comment with your own personal recommendations. Let’s convert the unbelievers and bring them onto the righteous path to enlightenment.