24/03/2009

Mort (by Terry Pratchett)

I've been reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld books for about fifteen years now, but only recently started re-reading them.

'Mort' is fourth in the series, and although I didn't remember it as being particularly good from my first reading in 1995, I found it very enjoyable on re-reading this week. It's the first book to introduce Death as a person with - unlikely though it might seem - emotions. This theme is picked up in later books such as Reaper Man and Hogfather.

Mort, the hero of the book, is a gangly and rather clumsy young man whose father would like him to start an apprenticeship - anywhere, so long as he can learn a useful trade. He is chosen by Death, and while he stays very much alive, he is taken to the dark domain where he meets Albert, the crusty old servant with an interesting history, and Ysabelle, a young woman who takes Mort initially in dislike.

He quickly learns the duties, and Death decides to have some time off. Mort, being human, finds he gets emotionally involved with some of the cases he has to deal with, and inadvertently causes a near-disaster when he changes some future history. The story becomes increasingly more surreal and bizarre towards the end, with quite an exciting climax.

All in all, I thought this a good read and would recommend it to anyone who likes Terry Pratchett's writing but hasn't picked up the earlier books. There's subtle humour, of course, and some clever plays on words, as well as interesting character development.

'Mort' is still in print on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as being widely available second-hand.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews 24th March 2008

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