Tuesday, September 02, 2008

RIP III Review: Mort by Terry Pratchett

Oh, Mr. Pratchett, where have you been all my life?

Anyone who loves books will understand what it feels like to discover a new series. I've learned to squirrel them away like nuts in winter and take them out at just the right time when they're most needed. I've had Mort in my special literary hidey-hole for some time now and decided that now was the right time! It's definitely going to be a re-read -- once I can find it, that is, as my 17-month old has apparently hidden it away in her special literary hiding place. *looking around...nope, still not in sight*

I guess the best reviews are short ones, so I won't go into too much detail about Pratchett's Discworld novels. They're so full of wit and fun and are at the top of my list of fantasy novels. I saw them once referred to as fluff -- and maybe they are -- but they are the best kind of fluff. Discworld is filled with memorable, quirky characters and just the right amount of new twists on old favorites (dwarfs, wizards, and so forth).

One of the primary characters in Mort is one of my Discworld favorites: Death. He's a rather bony chap, grins a lot, makes odd clattering noises when he walks. Yup, that's right -- he's a skeleton, in robes, with a scythe, carries around hourglasses, the whole bit. The Font Wizards have produced a bit of magical bookery in that he also talks in all caps without seeming angry. As you read his words you can hear bells tolling, but in an oddly cheerful way. I'm sure I'm not explaining it well, but if you see it you'll know what I mean; trust me.

As you can imagine, being Death is not that easy of a job and he decides to take on an apprentice. He chooses Mort*, a gangly fellow who has the best of intentions but just doesn't manage to get the job done correctly. You can imagine the catastrophic results when Death sends him on his first solo job...

I devoured this hilarious book in two days and recommend it to anyone needing a bit of escapist fiction. Don't get me wrong, though -- there are serious questions answered within. Does Death have feelings? Can history be altered? Is it possible to escape Death? Pratchett succeeds in making Death come alive as a character and has written a nice book with a few twists and lots of puns.

Now I'm left with one book less in my hidey-hole...but am eyeing The Colour of Magic or Feet of Clay to fill its spot.

*Mort is the word for death in French and quite possibly other languages, dunno.


Cath said...

I think anyone who describes Terry Pratchett's writing as 'fluff' hasn't read them. I've just read his Monstrous Regiment and I've never read such a scathing indicment of the stupidity and futility of war. The man's a genius.

If you're thinking of reading Feet of Clay it wouldn't harm if you read Guards! Guards! first. Feet of Clay is the third in the Nightwatch series, Guards! Guards! is the first. If you have already read it - ignore me. :-)

Nymeth said...

"Oh, Mr. Pratchett, where have you been all my life?"

Ha, I know the feeling :D I asked myself the same when I first discovered him.

Feet of Clay is a brilliant book, but like Cath said, it's even more enjoyable if you read the previous Watch books first. May I recommend the second Death book, Reaper Man? It's one of my favourite Discworld novels, and that's saying a lot.

Kate said...

Terry Pratchett is one of my favorites, period. I think of him like Jonathan Swift - straight and fantastic satire.

If you like DEATH you should try Thief of Time, which is 1. my favorite Pratchett, and 2. about DEATH's granddaughter Susan (who is my favorite Discworld character, DEATH being a close second but the dog Gaspode is rising on the list...)

Framed said...

I just discovered Pratchett this year. He is fantastic. With the exception of "Good Omens" (great book), I've listened to audio versions of his books which is a lot of fun. But I have Mort sitting on the shelves with a couple other Pratchetts so I look forward to reading it.

Pardon My French said...

Thanks for all the great recommendations! I've got them on my list - need somewhere to start since there are so many. Gaspode totally cracks me up, too!

sarala said...

I love Pratchett's Death--he is so sympathetic. If you've never heard Pratchett's books on tape, they are wonderful! He has a couple of kid's books too.