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(P) ISIS Publishing Ltd, 1995; Copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1987; Cover Illustration © Josh Kirby
So while not a DIEHARD discworld fan, I do enjoy Pratchett's work and this was my fourth in the series but by far the best one so far! Each one is pretty free standing and while The Color of Magic is the first one written, no one says you HAVE to start with that one...Start with MORT and you'll for sure read more of them!!!
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Mort is the fourth of Terry Pratchett’s DISCWORLD novels. It stands alone, meaning that you don’t need to read the previous novels to enjoy Mort. It’s better than the previous novels, too, so it might be a good place for new readers to start.
Mortimer is a naïve but pensive — and therefore slightly odd — young man who doesn’t fit in with his farming community. It looks like he’s going to be jobless until Death arrives and chooses him as an apprentice. Why does Death need an apprentice? He has become bored with his immortal life and wants to travel to Ankh-Morpork so he can experience some humanity.
After only a little bit of training, Mort is left in charge. His job is to collect the souls of people who are about to depart the mortal world. When Mort becomes infatuated with a princess who’s about to die, he can’t stop himself from interfering with her death and he manages to “royally” screw things up. With the help of Death’s adopted daughter Ysabell, Mort must figure out how to put the princess and the world back right again, all without neglecting to do his job.
Unlike the three previous DISCWORLD novels, Pratchett has almost everything right in Mort. The characters are quirky and vibrant, especially Death. (Almost all of the characters are new to this story, though Rincewind the bumbling wizard makes a cameo appearance.) The plot of Mort is exciting and fast-moving, and the humor is truly funny. Especially entertaining is Death’s search for happiness. He tries many of the things he sees humans doing for fun (e.g., getting drunk, gambling, doing the Conga at a party) and can’t figure out why they’re so appealing. He keeps telling himself he’s having FUN, but he can’t quite convince himself. Pratchett is really making FUN of us, of course, and most readers will probably find themselves wondering, along with Death, what exactly “FUN” is.
There’s a completely unbelievable romance in Mort, but that’s unlikely to bother most readers — we’re not reading Terry Pratchett for romance, are we? In fact, the more ridiculous, the better in a DISCWORLD novel, and Mort is definitely ridiculous.
There are several allusions to our own world in Mort, making us wonder just what the relationship is between our world and the Discworld. I think some readers will be intrigued by these allusions while others will find that they momentarily throw the reader out of the story.
I listened to the audio version of Mort which was produced by Isis Audio Books and narrated by Nigel Planer who does a wonderful job, as usual.
Audiobooks are my workaround to the pesky laws forbidding reading while driving. And I'm pretty sure my dog likes them too.
Death is one of my favorite characters in the Discworld series. He is second only to The Luggage. I have discovered that the reason for this is that these characters, especially The Luggage without his own dialogue or facial expressions, require Pratchett to be more creative and bring out the best in his wit. "Mort" is all about Death. And his apprentice, of course.
Maybe I was coming off the hangover from suffering through "Equal Rites," causing me to laugh at anything remotely funny, or that was better than the third installation of the Discworld series --- but, geez was "Mort" funny! You are greeted with old characters: Death, Isabelle, and even Rincewind at one point, and new ones: Mort, Albert, the princess, and Cutwell.
Without going into much detail, Mort becomes Death's apprentice and hilarity ensues. The young Mort struggles with suddenly being thrust into Death's "There is no justice, there is just me" world and his mistakes have grave consequences for the Discworld and for Death.
I most enjoyed reading (hearing?) about Death's escapades while Mort took over the Deathly duties. Death desperately wanted a break from "Death-ing" and Pratchett's descriptions of Death's interactions with the world at large are unrivaled.
If you enjoy lighthearted hilarity mixed with a strong morbid theme, combined with Pratchett's signature wit, you will love this next installment of the Discworld series. And thankfully, Nigel Planer has returned to guide us through this world in a way that only he can.
A hilarious book! Terry Pratchett's fantasy world is dirty, sordid, badly governed and full of marginal magicians, assassins, thieves, grifters, and a few honest people (including Death and his new apprentice) trying to make a living in it all. The narrator is brilliant; using different voices and accents, he draws the characters so vividly you can practically see them.
I'll start by saying that earlier Discworld novels are not as polished or as brilliant as the later works, but they are nevertheless essential for grasping the full storyline of the Discworld and its many extremely colorful inhabitants. Death is, in my mind, one of the most entertaining inhabitants, which makes a story about him taking on an apprentice tremendously appealing. The only slight downside (downside is a bit too strong of a word, actually) is that Death didn't really reach his zenith as a character until later in the series, so what you see here is a character not nearly as fantastic as in Hogfather, for instance. However, this story helps one to understand and appreciate Death better when encountered later and also helps to explain Susan more (she's not in this novel, but you learn some valuable backstory here). It's also good backstory if you were ever curious about Death's servant, Alfred. Also, it is still a really, really funny novel.
My personal feeling is that in the earlier novels, Pratchett tends to be more silly and whimsical, and was still developing as a storyteller. In the later novels -- I'd say after about 10 or so -- he truly became the master that we know his as now. So in this novel, you won't see as many of those artistic flourishes of unexpected depth/social commentary that you see in later Discworld stories, but you will see hints of them. If you like the sillier humor from stories like The Light Fantastic, you'll probably enjoy Mort more than you would some of the later works. If you just plain love Pratchett at any stage, than you'll be utterly delighted with Mort.
The main story concerns Death taking on an awkward young apprentice named Mort. Mort is eager to please, but can't quite make sense of his new master; additionally, Death's adopted daughter Isabelle doesn't seem to get on well with Mort (despite her father's not-so-subtle nudges). Death, as you will well know if you read other Discworld novels, has a habit of trying too hard to understand humanity, and in this particular story, he quite humorously wants to understand the concept of "fun" (he's dealing with a bit of burn-out from work). With Death off trying to have fun, Mort gets left in charge perhaps a little too soon . . . and from there everything dissolves into typical Discworld madness and hilarity.
I like Nigel Planer's narration, although I don't think he quite hits the right voice for Death, which is why I have to give four stars instead of five. I also feel like Planer never does as well with female voices as Briggs does. That said, I still laughed plenty as I listened, and I definitely am happy with this purchase on the whole.
Avid mystery/sci-fi/fantasy reader and listener (love to listen to good books by good narrators on the treadmill, when out walking, or on the train).
(Disclaimer: I am likely one of the biggest Terry Pratchett fans on the Disc, so take the review in that context.) This is one of my favorite early stories of the Discworld, and I have read and listened to it several times over the years. Like "Sourcery" that follows in the series, it manages to give a detailed and fascinating introduction to the universe of Great A'Tuin, without you knowing that you're being lead on the journey. Mort's (and Death's) journeys of growth and enlightenment are just plain fun to experience. And, Nigel Planer is one of the best narrators I've ever heard. My only problem with this recording is that the "reverb" of Death's voice (used in future recordings) is missing.
A perfect match between the narrator and the book - brilliantly entertaining and funny, this is one audiobook you will want to hear many times over. But beware, it might get you hooked on discworld books even if you don't usually read from this genre..
I was utterly charmed by this tale about Death taking an apprentice, and the chaos that follows when human empathy collides with the inexorable march of fate.
Soft hearted, but relentlessly pragmatic about his job, Death desperately needs a holiday. But Mort, his stand-in, makes a hopeless mess of things, threatening the very fabric of reality. In Terry Pratchett's hands, the Death of the Discworld was a sympathetic and fascinating character. Feared, misunderstood and utterly lonely, Death only wants to understand the joys of the lives he takes. My favorite scenes included Death getting drunk and pouring out his sorrows to a bartender, and finding happiness working as the Disc's most efficient short-order cook (time means nothing to him).
Mort himself is loveably inept and too much of a dreamer for his own good. Throw in some of the best of Pratchett's wry asides, a humorous romance and scenes that had me laughing out loud, and I thoroughly enjoyed every hour I spent with this story.
I love the way Death is personified by Terry Pratchett and I prefer Nigel Planer's narration to the others. Planer adds a humorous, heart-warming touch to the socially awkward Death. While I do not listen to the stories in order, I'm glad I listened to this one early on since Susan pops up in later books.
I wish I understood how an author can be so clever so often and create an entire multiverse.
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