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(P) ISIS Publishing Ltd, 1995; Copyright © Terry and Lyn Pratchett, 1991; Cover Illustration © Josh Kirby
Even among fan groups of the series where everyone has his or her own favorite characters, but many consider this the best book of the series. The wonderful moving and hilarious story of Death as he takes a holiday is an enchanting story that culminates in a wonderful climax that stays with you long after the book is done. Truly Discworld at is best.
My 9 year old got me into these Discworld book and we've listened to a pile of them by now. This has to be one of the all-time best. We laughed through the whole thing. (Thought I'd choke over the story of how One Man Bucket, the Indian ghost, got his name. Good thing my son didn't really get it! I've already told him he needs to re-read these when he's an adult.) These books are so funny on so many levels.
Does Death have a soft heart (metaphorically or otherwise)? Terry Pratchett takes us on another wild, contorted tale where we get expanded insights into the sentimental wanderings of Death Personified. This 7-foot tall skeleton tries to get a better understanding of humans by posing as one of them, but through all his misadventures, he just can't seem to get the hang of being alive. If you like the Discworld stories, this one is the best of the best; lively characters, rapidly changing plot, and another excellent narration by Nigel Planer.
I'm a geek with people skills. Strange, I know, but true!
The Discworld has many endearing characters, some frivolous, others ridiculous, and quite a few ironic to the point of absurdity. But of all the repeating characters in this twisted universe spawned from Terry Pratchett's mind, DEATH is one of my favorites.
Reaper Man provides all the classic silliness one would expect from a Discworld novel, complete with wannabe-upwardly-mobile vampires, zombie support groups for the dead-but-not-quite-gone contingent, and a reverse wolfman who is a wolf three weeks a month and a man the rest of the time. And let us not forget the last surviving banshee on the Disc who is so afflicted with a speech impediment that he scribbles his wails on a note and slips them under the door.
But these are just the supporting characters to DEATH, keeper of time and reaper of souls. Reaper Man is DEATH's story, filled with surprisingly tender moments scattered amidst the shenanigans at which Pratchett excels.
The skeleton of the plot (sorry!) is that DEATH gets a performance review by cosmic auditors, and they hold that he has developed too much of a personality to do the job properly. In lieu of a golden watch, they give him a golden lifetimer for his retirement. The story then follows his (mis)adventures in dealing with the basics of living, along with sub-plots surrounding the side-effects that crop up on a magical world where everything has stopped dying and the excess life force builds up all over the place. The results are predictably explosive.
What gives the story its greatest appeal (to me, at least), is that Pratchett manages to imbue DEATH with a mixture of naivete, worldliness, nobility and innocence. DEATH understands much about the way the universe of the Discworld operates, but he is hopeless when it comes to giving a woman flowers. He takes pride in collecting souls efficiently, but he is neither cruel nor heartless. He understands the necessity of his job, but there is respect and a surprising degree of empathy from someone who suffers from a severe lack of emotion. Other books have touched on these traits, but in Reaper Man they are given center stage.
As in other Discworld readings by Nigel Planer, Planer narrates and performs the story with keen appreciation for the absurdity and pathos, bringing to life nuances in Pratchett's writing that I have missed when reading Discworld novels on my own. It also seems that Planer's repertoire of accents and vocal technique improves with each book. Since Reaper Man is the eleventh in the series, he has had ample opportunity to hone his skills such that his reading carries you into the story with grace and ease.
In short, Reaper Man is pure Pratchett at his best, blending the silly and the serious in more or less equal measure, and Planer is the perfect conduit to Pratchett's world, in all its strangeness and wonder.
This is not a sad book, sorry to say. As always, the narration is stellar, entertaining. A must for a Terry Pratchett collection. Definitely worth the book credit or $$$.
This was the first Discworld book I ever read, and I was hooked. The concept of Death as a fairly benign character with a personality is definitely "outside the box". I love the wizards, behaving like small children (Yo!), and the inanimate things that actually have life (musn't spoil it). Pratchett is a genius that brings his own unique brand of humour, and razor-sharp insight into the human condition to a genuinely entertaining read. You can belly laugh on one page, then groan at a truly awful pun on the next page.
Nigel Planer is the best reader (his Death voice - just right). I look forward to reading/listening again and again.
I hold a BA in History from York University of Toronto; a 3yr Diploma in Computer Networking from Sheridan College in Oakville Ontario. I have been "reading" audio books sinces the late 80s and a member of Audible back to 2004. What a really like is a good long story preferable over 30 hours. :)
Of all the Terry Pratchett books I find my myself re-reading this the most often. It's about: being professional without being preachy; about see the good that all your "thankless" work does and about getting out of your world and see some elses.
All of this and you feel glad you read the book.
My only minor complaint is the recording has a minor hiss which on really good gear is rather noticeable.
A second read for me, but the first as an audible book. Nigel Planer does a great job narrating, handling with ease Pratchett's verbal fireworks. A lovely meditation on love and death disguised as a goofy romp through the Discworld.
I never thought I'd have reason to say I love Death, but Pratchett's imagined characterization makes me so empathetic with DEATH. I think Nigel Planer's voice is spot-on for this character. And truly, since no one really knows about the afterlife, whether there is one or not, the idea that there might be and that Death is only the non-judgemental doorkeeper, presents a moral lesson, in that what one does in the mortal life just might effect what comes in the immortal one. This is a great story.
Nigel Planer does an incredible job voicing the characters in this book. Completely entertaining, I am a newfound fan of this series. Well worth listening to and enjoying again and again, you're guaranteed a laugh every time you listen.
"Best Discworld ever"
This is the best Discworld book ever - the first one I read and it had me in helpless laughter at times. The concept of Death going missing and the Bursar going 'Yo!' - priceless.
Nigel Planer is the only one that should read these books. His voices are brilliant.
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