Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
383 pages; published 1990
"This isn't how I imagined it, chaps," said War. "I haven't been waiting for thousands of years just to fiddle around with bits of wire. It's not what you'd call dramatic. Albrecht Duerer didn't waste his time doing woodcuts of the Four Button-Pressers of the Apocalypse, I do know that." -- Armageddon delayed by technical difficulties
Never before has the Apocalypse been so funny. Forget fire and brimstone or Doomsday clocks, when the end of the world is being told by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman you know you're in for a strange ride.
The Anti-Christ has come to Earth. This means the end of the world - it has, after all, been foretold in the 'Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter' (sixteenth century witch and nutball). The final battle between Heaven and Hell will soon be waged and all of it will be brought to head by this one child.
Unfortunately for all involved, there's a slight mix up in the baby-switching operation and the child in question is just an ordinary child, whereas the Anti-Christ, the spawn of Satan himself, is sent off to the quiet little suburban town of Tadfield to live his days as a normal kid and all round rascal.
'Field agents' in this cosmic battle are the demon Crowley (formerly the more serpentine 'Crawley' - the reptilian temptor) and the angel Aziraphale. The pair have been monitoring ("messing with") the state of avairs on Earth - a touch a good here, a slew of evil there - since the beginning of time and, despite their inherent differences, have long since come to a kind of truce, even friendship. What's more, this friendship allows them to come to the reluctant opinion that, inspite of the Great Plan, in spite of the fact that their respective sides have been working towards this final showdown for millenia, well, they rather like Earth.
'We'll win, of course,' he said.
'You don't want that,' said the demon.
'Why not, pray?'
'...No salt, no eggs. No gravlax with dill sauce. No fascinating little restaurantswhere they know you. No Daily Telegraph crossword. No small antique shops. No bookshops, either. No interesting old editions. No -' Crowley scraped the bottom of Aziraphale's barrel of interests - 'Regency silver snuffboxes...'
'But after we win life will be better!' croaked the angel.
'But it won't be as interesting. Look, you know I'm right. You'd be as happy with a harp as I'd be with a pitchfork.' (47/8)
Putting a plan in motion to monitor the "Anti-Christ", to make sure his natural evil tendencies do not come out in full force, the pair are rather pleased with themselves ... until they lean that it has all been for naught. The Anti-Christ, one Adam Young, is still out there somewhere, the four horsemen (bikers) are riding and the Apocalypse is nigh.
Can Crowley and Aziraphale get there in time to stop it? Can they dodge paranoid witch hunters, aliens, and superiors from Hell (literally) and save the Earth before it's too late?
I normally avoid books written by two authors, I find that more often than not, the two voices jar against one another. But when I saw that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (two of my favourite authors) had paired up, I just couldn't resist. And I could not have been happier! Pratchett's outrageous humour was not suffocated but cushioned, enhanced, by Gaiman's rich detail; their two styles flowed together beautifully.
Good Omens was just the right amount of serious story telling and nutty commentary. Heartily recommended! 4.5/5