Mort by Terry Pratchett
Review by Floresiensis
Mort is a Discworld novel by fantasy author Terry Pratchett. The book is the fourth in the series and was first published in the UK by Victor Gollanz Ltd in association with Colin Smythe Ltd in 1987. The book is 315 pages in length and Corgi Books published the edition reviewed. Mort belongs in the comic fantasy sub-genre of fantasy.
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.
This is a wonderful book by Terry Pratchett, possibly my favourite. To take a theme such as death and turn it into a story that is this amusing and warm-hearted is a remarkable achievement. Mort is told in third-person narrative and contains all the dry humour and excellent social observations that has become the Pratchett trademark.
Mort marks Death’s first major appearance in the Discworld series. He stole the limelight with cameos in The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic and reader feedback must have made Pratchett realise that he had created a character that was deserving of much more exposure. Death plays the supporting role to Mort, the perfect representation of an awkward, gangly male teenager. Ysabell and Albert complete Death’s “family”, Albert is deserving of a book all of his very own.
It was also acutely embarrassing to Mort’s family that the youngest son was not at all serious and had about the same talent for horticulture that you would find in a dead starfish. It wasn’t that he was unhelpful, but he had the kind of vague, cheerful helpfulness that serious men soon learn to dread. There was something infectious, possibly even fatal, about it. He was tall, red-haired and freckled, with the sort of body that seems to be only marginally under its owner’s control; it appeared to have been built out of knees.
The narrative flows effortlessly, abundant in wit and astute in its content. Death speaks in capital letters, a stroke of genius in my opinion; you are able to hear the coffins creak and the bells toll in your mind every time he speaks. There are numerous types of humour employed in Mort; amongst them are irony, ambiguity and pun. None are overplayed and can result in all kinds of reaction from the reader varying from laughing out load to a wry grin. I read a review of Mort in which the reviewer had the voice of Brian Blessed in their head for Death’s voice. I think this is a fantastic choice but I myself had a far more toneless and icy voice in my mind, a voice devoid of emotion.
Mort is a notch above The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, the writing consistently excellent and the humour perfectly placed - just the thought of Death going through a mid-life crisis is enough to make you smile. One of the reasons that Pratchett has managed to turn the reaper of souls into such a loved character is that he shows Death’s caring side. Early in the book Death exudes barely suppressed fury at the needless death of a bagful of kittens.
Mort was voted 65th in the BBCs Big Read http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/bigread/top100_2.shtml and is a firm favourite of the UK’s readers and this is well deserved. Mort is a captivating read; fast paced and addictive.
David from England
Mort was the first book I ever read by Terry Pratchett and I enjoyed it so much that I soon became an avid reader of his work. There is always a good measure of comedy along with a good story in his books. He is guaranteed to give a good read and for me Mort is right there at the top of the list. I have read it several times and still look forward to reading it. If you've never read a Terry Pratchett book and don't know where to start then this is a good place. It's also a good place to meet Death, especially if you fancy a good curry.
Stephen from Norwich
This is another great Pratchett book - separate stories intertwining and by far the funniest of the four that I have read so far. DEATH is brilliant and unfortunately Mort reminds me of myself - all knees...
What did you think about Mort?
Submit your own reader review and award the book the rating you think it deserves.