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Mass Market Paperback Reaper Man (Discworld) Book

ISBN: 0451451686

ISBN13: 9780451451682

Reaper Man (Discworld)

(Book #11 in the Discworld Series)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback

Condition: Good

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Book Overview

"Engaging, surreal satire. . . nothing short of magical." --Chicago TribuneThe eleventh installment in the Discworld fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Terry Pratchett -- in which... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Dead, Depressed? Feel Like Starting it All Again?

REAPER MAN is my introduction to Pratchett. Upon finishing it, I immediately ordered four more Pratchett novels. The man's a comic/cosmic genius. I had always been put off by what appeared to be the mass market packaging of his books. I thought he was just another pop fiction author. I couldn't have been more wrong. The usual comparison is to Douglas Adams, whom I also greatly admire, but I find that I respond even more viscerally to Pratchett. It's not too difficult to figure out who the main character is in this book. But this Reaper has less to do with a Durer print than he does with the character as filtered through the mind set of Monty Python in THE MEANING OF LIFE. "Bill Door," the Reaper's flustered attempt at a moniker as he assumes his earthly identity, is one of the drollest, funniest comic characters in recent literature. He is a master of understatement. His deadpan delivery is spot on. The puns and the throwaway lines come fast and furious, throughout the book. Yet Pratchett also adds a sense of poignancy as the Reaper engages in a terrestrial romance with the somewhat addled, but strong willed Miss Flitworth. We come to care about what happens to them. Pratchett does a masterful job of juggling several subplots, involving Wizards, a Wolfman and several other equally bizarre, but comical secondary characters. I couldn't describe all these plots and subplots coherently if I tried. Suffice it to say that what would dissolve into pure incoherence in a lesser writer's hands, holds up like juggled hourglasses in Pratchett's hands. I had the impression that Pratchett couldn't be an important writer "and" be as prolific as he's been. Wrong. I've started several of his other books (THE COLOR OF MAGIC, THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, SMALL GODS and INTERESTING TIMES) and see that some of my favorite characters are included in other volumes. I can't wait to finish them! I definitely have to thank my Reviewer Friends for having urged me to check into Pratchett Land. As parallel universes go, Discworld can't be surpassed! BEK

It's a wonderful afterlife

Death, the grim reaper, is tasked with harvesting people's souls after they have died. He has always existed beyond Time and beyond life. But he has angered the Great Ones, and now he has to share the same fate as those he reaps: he is dying. He decides to take a holiday in order to make the most of the limited time he has left. But without Death present to claim people when they move on, things are bound to go wrong as life energy builds up and wreaks havoc on Discworld. Windle Poons, the oldest wizard at Unseen University, finds that upon his death he has nowhere to go. So he returns to his body until he can finally pass on. In his quest to find Death, he finds life. "Reaper Man" alternates between two story lines: a mostly serious one about Death and a mostly whimsical one about Poons and his fellow wizards as they battle a new life form that threatens to take over the disc. Although the character of Death was introduced in earlier Pratchett books, here he is fleshed out (if you will pardon the pun) into a fascinating character. He becomes a farm hand and switches to reaping crops instead of souls. He wrestles with the concept of saving a life instead of claiming one. He learns to get along with the townspeople and forms an interesting, and ultimately moving, relationship with Miss Flitworth, the elderly spinster who owns the farm. Now that he is faced with his own death, he begins to experience the vulnerabilities and emotions that other mortals face. I found Death to be a quite likable entity, and I think other readers will also. The late Windle Poons evokes a lot of laughs as he tries to make his way in the world of the still living. He hooks up with a group of the Undead when he joins the Fresh Start Club, an organization that fights for equal rights for the deceased. The club members include a shy banshee, a reluctant vampire, a boogeyman, and a reverse werewolf. Poons, the wizards, the Undead, and a medium named Mrs. Cake are caught up in a funny and magically madcap race to save Discworld from a fate far worse than death. As is usual in his books, Terry Pratchett includes wonderful nuggets of wisdom and philosophy scattered here and there between the laughs. Among the thought-provoking ideas he includes here are the relationship between belief and the object believed in, and the trolls' theory on why living things move backwards through time. He laments the intrusion of suburban sprawl and the proliferation of shopping malls. His characters ponder the meaning of life and death. This is not merely a story to race through and enjoy. It is a story to savor, and its ideas will stick with the reader long after the book is closed. Eileen Rieback


Reaper Man, to my mind, is the pinnacle of Pratchett's career. This is the first book in the series that truly melded the emotion of some of the previous books with the humor that's always been part of the Discworld universe. However, the emphasis is very much on the former in this case: this is Pratchett's most moving book by far. There are two basic plots in the book. One is caused by the other, but as the story progresses, there is little correlation between the two. Some people have commented on this as being a flaw, but personally speaking, I don't really see how that matters. This first plot mainly focuses on Death being fired by the Auditors and Azrael. After this is done, he comes to the Discworld, looking to make a new start. He takes a job with Miss Flitworth at her farm, and things go on from there. The second plot is based around the death of Windle Poons: and his subsequent return, because of the `lapse in service' caused by Death's exit. Poons was 130 years old, and his return from the dead makes him `live' again, ironically enough. For him, death is not like a sleep: it is more like waking up again. The problem is that the rest of the world soon raises objections. While I have mentioned the fact that Reaper Man is the most moving Discworld book, this is not to say that it isn't funny. In fact, some of the scenes in this installment are nothing short of hilarious, particularly in Poons' side of the story. The attempts of his fellow wizards to `help' him out, and their military endeavors in the latter part of the book (Yo!) are just sidesplitting. Death's side of the story is very different. There is some humor here and there, (see the scene with the dyslexic rooster), but for the most part, it has a slight air of melancholy to it: at points, it is almost brooding in nature. The character of Miss Flitworth is rather tragic, and Death's interaction with her makes for some very serious conversation. He learns more about humanity in the process, and it definitely leaves a mark, as can be seen in later Discworld books. Also of note is the landscape Death's story takes place in: Pratchett does an excellent job here. The images he conjures up in his descriptions are wonderful: one can almost imagine the wind whistling through the stalks of golden corn, gleaming in the sunlight. The imagery is also appropriate: i.e. the harvest and all that implies. The characters in Reaper Man are some of the best ever featured in a single Discworld book. Of particular note are the people in the Fresh Starters club: each individual is immaculately crafted, and very, very funny. Dibbler turns up, as does Sgt. Colon and Modo the dwarf, whose musings on life in the University are amusing, in their own way. However, the wizards steal the show, as always: their antics in this one had me in fits. Speaking of great characters, Windle Poons (along with Ronald Saveloy in Interesting Times) is probably the best one book character Pratchett ever created. In many w

Not in the John Deere catalog . . .

Shortsighted management has forced another "downsizing". This time the victim of layoff is Death himself, "retired" by the Auditors. He does his job efficiently and he doesn't sass the boss. He's just become "too involved" with those due to receive attention from his infinitely sharp scythe. The Auditors want a firmer hand on the reaping blade. On the street with time on his hands, Death decides he's going to spend it. Wandering the Discworld, he "gets his feet under the table" as hired man at Miss Flitworth's farm. Although a bit confused about eating and sleeping, he's able to respond with resolute affirmation when she asks, "Can you use a scythe?" He demonstrates a harvesting technique only Pratchett could devise. With Death no longer performing his role, strange events result. Unconfined, the life force manifests itself in bizarre ways. Death, visible to wizards, fails to arrive at an appointment. In consequence, Windle Poons is subjected to various indignities. His colleagues have a prejudice about zombies. Not having actually died, Windle decides to start to live. Over a century of breathing doesn't necessarily mean you've been living, and Windle, like Death, decides to see something of the [Disc]world. His colleagues, uncertain as to why Windle's still upright and subjected to some mild indignities of their own, seek the cause of unusual manifestations. If you're new to the Discworld, all this must sound pretty grotesque. Death "fired" only to become a reaper on a spinster's farm? Wizards who can see him and know precisely when he's due? Take heart, this isn't a bleak version of the Merlin legend, nor a Stephen King horror story. It's Terry Pratchett, a writer with an unmatched talent for looking at the world we live in. He peers deeply at how life works. Then with countless deft twists, restructures our globe into a flat Disc. The Disc's filled with novel ideas and even more unusual people, but on second glance all seem terribly familiar. Death isn't a killer, for example. He's only there to collect lives when they're due to end. Unlike the tax man, he only arrives once, and he's terribly, terribly good at his job. To those familiar with Pratchett, this book should receive high marks. All of Ankh-Morpork's finest are here - even Sergeant Colon makes an appearance. While enlarging on the cameos Death's played in other Discworld books, Pratchett nearly lets Miss Flitworth walk away with this one. But it's Sal Lifton who does that - the Small Child who recognizes Bill Door as a "skellington" as she ponders how he can eat or sleep. For it's Sal who personifies why Death's been put out to pasture [sorry!]. What that implies about Death's philosophy of life [sorry, again!] and how all this reflects Pratchett's own views becomes vividly clear when the "new hire" appears. As with many modern managers, the Auditors have acquired a labour saving appliance. Pratchett's great genius i

The Best Discworld novel. Without a doubt.

The Discworld series is a brilliant and beautiful series of books. This is the best of them. Do I really need to give any further explanation? Alright then.The Grim Reaper, Death, is a character often popularised as evil and murderous, and such. But he isn't, and in fact gets quite offended should this be suggested to him. The Auditors of Reality have therefore decided to fire him, on the basis that he is taking too much personal interest in his work. Until a replacement is found, though, Death's job - taking the spirits of the dead to their appointed afterlife (if any) isn't happening, leaving a surplus of life force and an abundance of chaos.As Death journeys through what must now be called his "life" as a farm labourer called Bill Door, and deceased-but-not-departed wizard Windle Poons attempts to find him, comedy mixes with serious issues on life and humanity. And we are amused, but moved at the same time. A beautiful book. Get it. Now, if not sooner.
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