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Book Review:: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

"It's only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away." - lyrics by the BeeGees that I live by and strive to inculcate in life

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“And just when you'd think they were more malignant than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of. Often the same individual was involved. It was this free-will thing, of course. It was a bugger.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaima

This was the quote I first came across in reference to this magnificent book and it asked a peculiar question: If something like destiny and fate are to be believed, then where does the concept of free will come into play? Is it just that: a concept? Or does it really exist? If Armageddon is set in stone, then is there any point in doing anything, because won’t it all come to naught?

And how does it apply to the other parties involved in this Armageddon? What about Heaven? What about Hell? What about their warriors, angels and demons? Do they have free will too? Or are they bound by the words written?

The result of this fated battle is unknown – or rather, unknown for now. But where does everything lead? Where is the end – if there really is an end?

This book will take you on a ride to find that elusive end.

Starting with free will and destiny, it will give you another opinion on the roles that everyone is expected to play, while unexpectedly making you smile along the way.

“Most books on witchcraft will tell you that witches work naked. This is because most books on witchcraft are written by men.”

— Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaima

At the same time, there is plenty food for thought.

“There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn’t just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They’d come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout, “The Devil Made Me Do It” and get the sympathy of the court when the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn’t have to. That was what some humans found hard to understand. Hell wasn’t a major reservoir of evil, any more than Heaven, in Crowley’s opinion, was a fountain of goodness; they were just sides in the great cosmic chess game. Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.”

Humans are such delicate creatures, yet they seem to have somehow reached the top of the food chain on Earth. Hasn’t anyone wondered how that came to be, if not for the very fact that our mind is limitless and can think of ways that best serve our interests at all times, and getting the desired results by hook or by crook.

I’m sure in a few millennia, when humans achieve technological advancement so that we may find evidence of other life forms, we would find a way to, if not dominate, then at least have the upper hand in any negotiations that might take place. Because to put it mildly, humans are savages; and to quote the book, “It has been said that civilisation is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.”

But there is another aspect of humanity that needs to be considered: our ability to find humour in the direst of circumstances and our love for consistency in the midst of chaos.

People may complain about their tiring routines, but the moment that routine is disrupted, they have already had mini heart attacks all the while trying to get their runaway train back on track. And most people would do this while cracking at least one joke about runaway trains – if not in public, then definitely in private.

In my opinion, it is these three traits that have allowed humanity to reach the position we are in currently as a species and it is these traits that will take us far – unless we succumb to another trait that has plagued our species since the time we developed higher brain function: the ability to be stupid when in large numbers.

Some of the major setbacks that we have encountered has been because of this reason and I firmly believe, this trait is here to stay, playing the role of our collective Achilles heel.

And therein lays the beauty. We are poised for greatness, while being doomed.

So, pick up this book and see how Armageddon comes to be and start imagining the beginning for the rest of forever.

If you don’t believe in Armageddon and consider Time to be liner, then pick this book to see how Armageddon comes to be, while making sure that your linear timeline is nor rift of chaos thanks to the stupidity of numbers.

If you believe in Armageddon and consider Time to be non-linear, think of what other events may have precipitated this event to come about while reading this book.

If you don’t believe in Armageddon and believe Time to be non-linear, think of the chaos wrapped in consistency and the consistency marred by chaos as you enjoy the book.

And if you don’t believe, then you may consider looking up on Chaos Theory as food for thought, after finishing this book.

© 2021 Sanjana Mahanta

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