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Every so often, even *Pratchett* takes it up a notch...
Posted by email@example.com on 11/27/1998
We all know that there is no funnier writer that Pratchett. But fewer of us know that Pratchett, every now and then, stops and steps outside the realm of the simply funny, and enters the realm of what is magical. Now, not all of us are receptive works derived from the latter area of... L-space, i suppose, but, with Mort, Pratchett definitely appealed to a part of me beyond my gigglebox. Mort, while not as abundant in wisdom as say, Small Gods, is simply put a very enchanting and enticing tale about one very unique youth's early job experience, and his very comical romantic pursuits. Moreover, I've always felt that when Pratchett put forth his thoughts on a subject, my own view of that subject got just a -bit- richer, and Mort definitely seems to revolve moreso around romance than any of the other Discworld Novels, and I can honestly say that, since reading it, my love life has never been better. So, once again, thank you, Terry... Thank you very, very much.
Posted by Leonard Fleisig on 12/19/2004
When we mere male mortals reach a certain age we sometimes, aware that we are closer to our future death than our past birth, start to act up. We trade the 1981 Honda Civic in for a Corvette convertible, quit our old job to write a great novel, and have even been known to trade in our wives or significant others for a younger, newer model. It's known on Earth as a mid-life crisis. But on Discworld, and in the hands of the master Terry Pratchett, a banal mid-life crisis is turned into another one of his hilarious and thought filled romps. Through Pratchett's hilariously skewed prism this crisis is not being experienced by a mortal but rather by the harbinger of death, the aptly named DEATH. What we have is a mid-death crisis. Death may, like an ever-rolling stream, bear all its sons away but DEATH seems more than a bit tired of doing all the bearing away.
Terry Pratchett's Mort tells a rather simple tale. DEATH is looking for an apprentice. Young Mortimer, one of life's simple trusting souls is a young man with little career prospects. He is ungainly and spends a bit too much time thinking random thoughts. Mort's dad and relatives find him to be a well-intentioned but generally useless young man. Dad has been told that becoming an apprentice will get Mort off his hands and teach him a trade. So off to town they go for `apprentice day' in the market square. As luck would have it, DEATH arrives and takes Mort on as his apprentice.
Mort develops in the expected Pratchett manner. The relationship between Mort and DEATH, and the chores Mort performs to learn his trade, seem very similar to that in the movie Karate Kid. Shoveling poop is not immediately relevant to learning how to become the messenger of death yet Mort takes to his tasks well. Mort seems to enjoy living at DEATH's house and enjoys the food prepared by Albert, who may not be quite what he seems. He doesn't seem to get along to well with DEATH's daughter, Ysabell but that again may not be quite what it seems.
Within no time DEATH is entrusting Mort with more responsibility while he experiments with drinking, dancing, and a stint as the best short order cook in Ankh-Morpork. Meanwhile, Mort, left to his own devices makes a mess of things in short order. Specifically, Mort falls for the heavenly charms of a Princess and fails to bring her over to the next world. This of course causes no end of confusion as the natural order of things on Discworld has been greatly disturbed.
As with most Discworld books, events proceed at a furious pace followed by a conclusion that, like death itself, is inevitable. For any Pratchett fan, of which I am one, the joy in the journey and not in getting to the conclusion. Along the way we are treated to the usual array of cultural references and little jokes. When Albert mutters "s-odomy non sapiens" under his breath Mort asks what that means to which Albert replies "buggered if I know." When DEATH notes he is closing out a bar, alone, at a quarter to three, Pratchett tracks the lyrics to Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen's "One for My Baby". It is priceless.
Last, this is a stand-alone Discworld book. Although some recurring characters make cameo appearances the reader does not really need to be overly familiar with any of the other Discworld books to enjoy Mort. Mort was a pleasure to read.
Posted by Eileen Rieback on 9/24/2004
Mort is an awkward young man who bungles everything he attempts. When his father decides to send him off to be an apprentice, he gets only one offer - from the Grim Reaper himself. It seems like a good job to Mort: free room and board and a secure position in a business that will never run out of clientele. He doesn't even need to die to take the job. Soon Mort is doing some of the reaping himself and he even seems to be gaining maturity, self-confidence, and the ability to walk through walls. He falls in love. But can he manage to help Death harvest souls without making a complete mess of things?
This is the fourth in the wildly funny and inventive Discworld series and the first in the Death story line. Although Death made an appearance in the first three books, this time we are provided with a much closer look at Death's domain through details on his daily routine, his likes and dislikes, his household, and his horse. We meet his daughter and his faithful servant. There are hilarious scenes where Death tries out a few mortal pleasures to learn what they are all about. Only Pratchett could depict Death fly-fishing, getting drunk, or participating in a line dance. Above all else, we find out that Death's not such a bad fellow when we get to know him.
Pratchett continues to flesh out the geography, culture, and magic of Discworld. He addresses the self-healing nature of history and the relationship between fate and death. He presents a coronation, a bevy of bumbling wizards, a deadly beverage called scumble, a library of self-writing books of life, and a dangerous section of Ankh-Morpork known as the Shades. There is also a generous helping of wit, puns, and wicked satire. This is a great read!
Posted by AllieKat on 4/28/2001
I've started reading the Discworld series from the beginning since they've started reissuing the ones that were out of print. "Mort" is by far the best I've read so far. If they keep getting better as the series progresses, I'm going to have to restrict myself to reading these books at home because of the weird looks I get if I laugh at a book in public. Death is the most hilarious character in the book. Death has decided that he needs an apprentice so that he can look around a bit, do a bit of sightseeing on the Disc. Mort is the only boy in his town that wasn't offered an apprenticeship... until Death came. He gave Mort the offer of a lifetime. Free room and board, a great job, use of the company horse. What more could Mort ask for? But Death starts spending more and more time away and Mort isn't quite ready to start taking over the job full time. This book explores what happens when someone doesn't die that the entire universe expects to die. Like I said, it's one of the *best* of the series so far, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Another great Pratchett book
Posted by Kurt A. Johnson on 5/8/2001
This is the fourth book in Terry Pratchett's books on the Discworld - a flat world, supported on the back of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle, anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does. In this book, Death (capital "D", he's the man, or rather the anthropomorphic personification) decides to take an apprentice, and selects Mort, a rather inept young man from the Ramtops. As Death takes less interest in his job, Mort's interests cause him to create a tear in reality.
This is another great Pratchett book. Running several storylines at once, the author succeeds in having all of them move along smoothly. Also, the book contains a goodly dollop of Terry's humor and ironic footnotes. I love the Death books (this one, plus Reaper Man, Soul Music, and Hogfather); in this one Death tries the joys of drinking, dancing, gambling and so forth, all with hilarious results.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book.