Mort, by Terry Pratchett

I WAS OFFERING YOUR BOY A POSITION.  I TRUST THAT MEETS WITH YOUR APPROVAL?
What was your job again?
I USHER SOULS INTO THE NEXT WORLD.
Ah, of course, of course, sorry, should have guessed from the clothes.
-Lezek speaking with Death


I’d been meaning to read some of Terry Pratchett’s books for a while.  It had begun in ’98 with a hardcover book with the simple title of Legends.  It was a bunch of short novels written by a number of the most popular fantasy authors today, based in their best known settings.  For George R. R. Martin, it was a story from the world in his ongoing series A Song of Ice and Fire.  For Stephen King, there was a tale of Roland from his Dark Tower books.  And for Terry Pratchett, it was a story of Discworld.  It hit my funny bone hard enough to get me interested, but I’d put off purchasing any of his books…until recently.

So, I finally picked up Mort.

Discworld is a strange world.  It’s a flat, circular planet resting on the backs of four elephants…who are standing on a very large turtle.  There are a number of kingdoms around, on four continents (details can be found in the back of the book, in a travel guide called Discworld on $30 a day).  Near the Ramtops mountains, there is a grassy area where a young boy-who perhaps isn’t the sharpest blade in the scabbard-is presented at the hiring fair in hopes of becoming somebody’s apprentice.  Near the very last minute, however, the boy-Mort-and his father is approached by the last person one would expect to be looking for an apprentice-Death.

In his apprenticeship, Mort is introduced to what Death calls The Duty, where he must be on hand for the deaths of important personages (or cats)-or as he puts it, “SPECIAL OCCASIONS”.  That isn’t all that surprising, really:  what is surprising is Death’s houseguests…an old man named Albert, and Death’s daughter, Ysabell.  And a horse named Binky.  We get introduced to some of the facts of death as Mort travels a bit with Death; then disaster strikes:  Death lets Mort perform the Duty on few people solo.  And that’s when things start to get interesting.

There were a significant amount of moments in this book that had me bursting out laughing-and it’s been a while since I’ve done that.  Death was at once an inhuman being and in some ways, all too human.  Mort undergoes a great deal of growth in this book, from the somewhat less swift to a very significant person in his own right…although he kind of has to grow up quickly.  There is a subplot running through the book involving a princess that Mort meets under the expected circumstances, and is a major cause of trouble in the book.  I also enjoyed the room with hourglasses measuring out every living being’s life, and a library that contains the book of every being’s life…works in progress, until the end.

I have to say, once I finished reading this book, I wondered to myself, “What the hell have I been waiting for?”  On my hitlist for future purchases-and soon-will be as many Discworld books as I can lay my hands on.  I haven’t enjoyed a good humorous fantasy book this much since Robert Aspirin’s Another Fine MythMort is a book I’d recommend to anyone who has a funny bone!

Categories: Discworld | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Mort, by Terry Pratchett

  1. =Tamar

    I recommend spacing them out, reading other books between them. You don’t want to overdose.

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