Where do I start? Teppic is training to be an assassin. Actually, when we meet him, he is in the midst of his final exam. This is an exam one does not want to fail, as one might expect from an Assassin's Guild examination. Teppic also happens to be the heir to the throne of the small, well-placed but impoverished kingdom of Djelibeybi. Events conspire to see him back on the throne, contending with being a rather worldly king in a rather backwards country, building the pyramid to end all pyramids, and entering into an association with a camel aptly named You Bastard.
I think the thing I appreciate about this book so much, aside from Teppic whom I absolutely adored, is the way it unfolds. As a quick aside, if you pick up this book, unless you are the sort of person who can stop reading in the middle of a chapter, make sure you have a day or two free to read it. There are no chapter breaks. Pratchett gets me with this every time. I mean, there are paragraph breaks in which it would be appropriate to stop, but... let's just say I have gotten nothing at all done today. Instead of chapters, it's set up as four books: Book I: The Book of Going Forth, Book II: The Book of the Dead, Book III: The Book of the New Son, and Book IV: The Book of 101 Things a Boy Can Do. We don't really start to get an idea of the shape of the plot until Book II, by which I mean, we only begin then to see the shape of the problems Teppic is about to face. Book I is perfect, though -- it sets us up to know Teppic, to understand a little about his background and his home country. I suppose it could be construed as a slow start for the plot, but it never feels like that.
The plot then blossoms, slowly and surely. We get several perspectives, all carefully coming together to create a creeping understanding of what is going on. Not one character ever really gets the full picture, but the reader does, and I am in awe of how well it all unfolds. And I think I'm going to have to read Pyramids again in order to fully grasp everything. There's a lot of symbolism (a theme throughout the book) that I think I missed out on, although I caught some things. There's foreshadowing too, but done so skillfully that I didn't even notice it -- once in a while I would be reading, and then think, "Wait. Wait. There was something back there..." and then I'd flip back a few pages or even more, and be astonished anew at how clever Terry Pratchett is.
Which is not to say that Pyramids is a dense read, or a difficult read, or a frustrating one. It never, ever is. It doesn't require a re-read, but it certainly will inspire one. Pyramids has gone on the list of books I want to own.
I shall leave you with a footnote that makes me smile as a librarian, but also cringe:
The fastest insect is the .303 bookworm. It evolved in magical libraries, where it is necessary to eat extremely quickly to avoid being affected by the thaumic radiations. An adult .303 bookworm can eat through a shelf of books so fast that it ricochets off the wall.