Author: Terry Pratchett
Date: 2012 (1987)
Summary: Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.
After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romantic longings did not mix easily with the responsibilities of being Death’s apprentice…
Mort is the fourth book in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series and the first book in the Death sub-series. It is an introduction to Death, his realm, and the role of Death in the Discworld. I’ll admit that Mort wasn’t my favourite Discworld book but I still really enjoyed reading it!
The plot was fun! Mort follows Mortimer, Mort for short, as he takes on a new role as Death’s apprentice. Yes, the title is a pun on the relationship between Mort’s name and death. Anyways, Mort is sent off to collect the souls of those who are scheduled to die but something goes wrong during one of his assignments and the world is thrown into chaos. As all deaths on the Disc are predetermined, Mort faces issues when he accidentally tampers with fate. There are two intertwining plots (although I guess one is technically a sub-plot) as some of the sections focus on Mort and his new job as Death’s apprentice while other sections follow Death as he finds himself and gets drunk in pubs. These two separate plots finally meet in a epic showdown towards the end of the book.
As I said, I thought the plot was fun. I enjoyed how the book was split between two concurrent, connected plot lines and I found the shifting point of view very entertaining. I also liked the ending. Parts of it seemed a little bit too neat but the novel felt complete. Pratchett did leave an opening for future adventures but the ending isn’t ambiguous and there isn’t a cliff-hanger.
Although it is a plot-driven novel, there’s wonderful character development too. I loved Death as a character because Death personified is always fun. Pratchett’s take on Death was witty and lively and I thought his characterisation was unique. However, I didn’t really get along with any of the other characters. Ysabell, Death’s adopted daughter, was interesting enough but I didn’t like Mort even though he’s the title character. He does grow as a person throughout the novel but I just didn’t care for him as much as I perhaps should.
What I loved most about the book was Pratchett’s mixture of levity and seriousness. Although the topics are much, much darker in Mort than they are some the other Discworld books, Pratchett approaches these themes with an unexpected light-heartedness but he doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of life and society either.
Overall, Mort is a great book. Very entertaining and fun. I’d recommend it and it’d be a great place to start if you’re looking to get into the Discworld Death books.
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