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It's difficult to come up with a better summary of Mort than the tagline for the books which simply reads: "Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job". From that simple idea comes a book bursting with fun, invention and great characters that would go on to shape Terry Pratchett's Discworld in some very interesting ways.
To expand on the plot: Death once again takes it into his head to find out what it means to be "human". To allow him some time off, he hires an apprentice - the rather gangly and clumsy Mort - to help him with his Duty. Of course, Mort soon starts to mess things up and threaten the very fabric of reality.
Mort contains ideas and plotlines that are echoed (in a different context) in Reaper Man, Soul Music and, to some extent, The Hogfather. If you were being churlish, you could accuse it of being rather unoriginal (although Mort was actually the first to explore these ideas). In fact, this doesn't matter. Whilst the central theme (Death going off and being replaced by someone else) is common to them all, the way it is used is very different and very funny. It gives an opportunity to bring Death to the forefront (rather than having him make cameo appearances) and the idea of exploring what Death might do on his days off is a very amusing one.
There was a danger that Death as a lead character would not be strong enough to support a whole novel and Pratchett recognises these limitations. To help out, he introduces plenty of support characters including Mort himself, Death's "daughter" Ysabell and crusty old servant, Alfred. Whilst this trio are not, perhaps, quite as well developed and funny as similar characters in later books, they have their moments and the bickering between them is still amusing.
Where Mort is a little bit of a let-down is that some of the central characters don't feel as well developed as their counterparts in subsequent books. Mort himself comes across as something of a wimp (at least initially) and a little dull. He is something of a straight man and the humour tends to happen around him, because of things he does or says, rather than through him. Ysabell is mostly a convenient plot device, cropping up when needed, but not adding a great deal otherwise, whilst Albert has not quite evolved into the crotchety/cantankerous old man that he would become in later books.
This being early Pratchett, there is perhaps a greater focus on plot. In later titles, plot is merely something to hang a great cast and loads of gags on. Here, Pratchett is still focussed on setting up the Discworld as a "real" place. This can make Mort seem a little slower than later books and the jokes per page ratio is perhaps lower than later entries in the series.
The humour is also more self-contained. There are fewer running gags or on-going situations to cause amusement; fewer misunderstandings or cynical observations about human nature. Instead, the humour is more situation-based, arising very firmly from specific hinges that happen. Whilst this is funny, it does mean that a lot of time is spent setting up situations so that a few jokes can be squeezed from it.
Still, let's not be too critical because Mort bears all of the things that would go on to become Pratchett trademarks. Pages are littered with footnotes and amusing asides that have nothing to do with the main plot, but which add a richness and extra level of humour. Pratchett is also starting to recognise the importance of supporting characters (both recurring and one-off) to act opposite his main characters and feed them lines to set up some great jokes.
Pratchett's style is also still perhaps a little self-conscious at this stage. With later books, everything (including language) is geared towards humour. Descriptions are (generally) kept to a minimum and, as already noted, plots are simply there to provide a rough structure. In Mort, there is still quite an emphasis on providing fairly detailed descriptions of people and places in a traditional "narrative" way.
Unless you are seriously impatient, this is not an issue. The level of detail in Mort creates a convincing sense of a "real world", whilst still giving plenty of scope for laughs, and arguably the more knockabout style of later books works precisely because titles like Mort have successfully established the Discworld in people's minds. Long-time readers know the basic laws that govern the Discworld and Pratchett has no need to expand on them. In 1988, when Mort was first published, the Discworld was still very new and so it was essential to provide greater levels of detail.
Mort is almost an evolutionary moment in the Discworld series. You can see Pratchett starting to move away from the slightly more straightforward science fiction/fantasy parody and see him moving towards the lovably insane place that the Discworld was to become. Mort treads a fine line between the two -very funny, but retaining a strong science fiction/fantasy element. There are times when the plot perhaps slows the pace of the book down a little, but this is not a serious weakness.
Mort is an interesting book that in my mind has always provided a crucial link between the first few Discworld titles and the later ones. It's clear that Discworld and its characters are evolving. It might not be the best Discworld book, and it's certainly not the funniest, but it still has plenty of laughs and will keep you entertained.
© Copyright SWSt 2013
This was my first Discworld book - I was heavily recommended it and finally got round to reading it. The basic storyline is that Death finds himself an apprentice who helps him to usher the dead into the next world. Unfortunately, the apprentice, Mort, feels sorry for a princess who is about to be killed and saves her. By doing so he messes up the workings of the universe with dire consequences. Although I was initially skeptical, I was pleasantly impressed and loved all the jokes and footnotes throughout the book. The humour is often silly but that is one of the things that is so likeable about the book. The footnotes would often contain nice and amusing tidbits about Discworld - these aren't crucial to the story at all but are a delight to read. I really liked some of the characters especially Death who turns out to be extremely likeable, even loveable! Despite really enjoying the book overall, I was left a bit disappointed with some of the characters and the ending. I disliked Mort towards the end, and I took absolutely no liking to the haughty princess who showed no kindness or gratitude to anyone else...! The ending was a little random to me - I didn't really feel satisfied with it but I didn't hate it either. Overall, I will definitely be reading more of the books from this series since the writing style is so likeable and vivid. I actually saw the films done by Sky e.g. Going Postal, Hogfather etc. before reading any books by Terry Pratchett and really, really enjoyed them - if you've watched by not read like I had then I'm pretty certain that you will love the books as well! :)
Terry Pratchett is an amazing and inspiring author, and this book "Mort" is the fourth offering from his hugely successful Discworld series. I first read Terry Pratchett books about 10 years ago back in high school and I have to admit I did not get the humour in them and as a result did not enjoy reading them. Then I borrowed a pile of Discworld books of my cousin this year and something just clicked, they made sence to me and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them so far! This particular novel is focused around the characters of Death - the grim reaper, and Mort - a pretty useless boy. Death gives Mort an apprenticeship and take him to live and work along side him. Without giving anything away the book is charming and sweet, it focuses on the job that Death has - you may be surprised about his views on it! Very funny, with laugh out loud parts, a good read and well recommended!
Mort is a red headed country boy with few skills, who is taken to town one day to be apprenticed off with lots of other boys to learn a trade. Come evening he is the last one there and the strange figure who comes to pick him seems to have some kind of power over his father. And so Mort is whisked away by the grim reaper - better known as Death - who wishes to train him up to follow in his other-worldly footsteps to take care of things after he has gone (gone where, though?)
Although Death makes regular appearances in many Discworld novels, this is the first in a trilogy wherein he is the main character. We visit his home, we meet his adopted daughter and we get to follow in his daily business.
Don't worry if you have never read Terry Pratchett before. I read these books out of order and still enjoyed them, but even so would recommend starting with this one, as you will benefit from the continuity of character development that explores the depth of Death as he begins to question what he has been doing since the beginning of time, and also the continued relationship between Death and Mort.
It is an interesting and often hilarious ride through the complicated and immense responsibility of the grim reaper, the theological wonderings of Terry Pratchett's mind and you also get to spend time in Ankh Morpork, which is always fun.
Mort was Terry Pratchett's fourth book in the Discworld series. The story was the first in the series to feature Death (you know, the hood and scythe and all that) as the main character, who decides to, one day, take a vacation. So he hires some help to do his job for him while he's out.
He picks young farmhand Mort, who, after a series of boring jobs of mucking out the stables, accompanies Death on one of his jobs. However, when it's his turn to "kill" a princess who's about to be assassinated, he chickens out, falling for the princess instead.
And he's about to learn what happens when you don't follow the Rules and along with Death, his horse Binky and his (adopted) daughter Ysabell, try to prevent mass destruction to the disc...
I think Mort was where Terry Pratchett really got into the spirit of writing for Discworld. While the first three books were very good, and very funny, to me they never really felt like true Discworld. It really does start with Mort, where he's, at first, beginning to refine the Death character (who does appear in pretty much every novel and plays quite an important part overall) and the geography and the cultures of the Disc. We get better acquainted with the city of Sto Lat, which again will feature prominently throughout the series.
It was one of the first Discworld books I read and it really does do a good job of introducing us to the series in total.
Mort, by itself, its a charming, funny and icnredibly engrossing book. The ideas are original and the settings and characters are really truly magical, captyuring the spirit of fantasy novels without running into any of the more common cliches, more or less just skimming over them, making light of the old Tolkien-esque styles.
Mort was the book that started me reading Pratchett and is a book that makes such fun out of an idea that you'd never have imagined.
The concept of Death needing an apprentice captures the imagination from the very start of this book. Added to that the bizarre character traits Pratchett gives him (He likes cats, enjoys curries and His horse is called Binky) leaves you confused, amused and doubting all you have been brought up to believe.
His choice of a gangely, knocked-kneed youth named Mort, presents us with another of Pratchett's favoured unlikely/incompetent hero's whose adventures unfold like a comedy of errors but, as in all good adventures, the hero wins through in the end.
Terry Pratchett takes the reader on yet another magical journey of character descriptions, colourful places and weird happenings. His story telling is so vivid you can almost believe your there.
Again the book is fast and hilarious, and leave you wondering what goes on in his head to create such amazing tales.
Mort is part of a series of different stories that all take place on the discworld. A planet as you guessed it in the shape of a disk which is held on top of a giant turtle named great A tuin.
Most of the books have a lot of humor in them and Mort has a bit of gloom in it as well as humor.
The book starts off when Mort who is not the smartest person in the world goes looking for work.When no one else will take him the grim reaper aka death decides he needs a bit of a holiday he decides that he is going to train someone to work for him.
Whats also funny about this book is its a different side of the grim reaper who has given up his skeleton horse for a normal horse named Minky not a name that you would imagine for death horse.
Through out the book Mort goes through a transformation and almost slowly becomes death.
He does not actually need to die in order to become death.
One character I don't like is very much like the queen from black adder.
Although I do enjoy terry humor in most the books I have read so far I found this a bit of a hard read.
I would recommend you read this even though have given some disadvantages it still has a lot of funny lines in it.
Mort is the fourth novel in the Discworld series. For those that don't know, the Discworld novels concern events on a flat world carried through space on the back of four elephants. These elephants are standing on the turtle, Great A'Tuin.
The Discworld is a fantasy world, but a fantasy world ruled by surprisingly mundane laws. Conservation of energy applies to magic, for example, so wizards use their own brains as leverage when levitating objects.
Dragons don't exist on the physical plane, as they are magical creatures that couldn't possibly sustain themselves in reality (or even be able to fly). The only dragons are nervous swamp creatures which spontanaeously combust at random.
Even in this fantasy realm, Death is still present. And because this a fantasy world, he even appears as a major character, a fairly personable reaper who has sympathetic chats with those he ushers into the next world.
In Mort, Death decides to take on an apprentice, called Mortimer, or Mort, an awkward gangly teenager, as teenagers often are. Death decides to make the most of having a bit of help in the Grim Reaping business, taking the opportunity to wander off on holiday, and Mort comes close to screwing up the whole of causality.
It's always a matter for debate whether Pratchett is a humour writer, or a writer who uses humour, but it must be said first of all that this is a very funny novel. Scythe-wielding skeletons stopping off for a takeaway curry after a hard night of harvesting the mortal world is a faintly disturbing image, but Death's easy, slightly sardonic humour covers it nicely. One of my favourite lines involves Death surveying his apprentice's new 'suit' disapprovingly:
MORT: My father said they were famous for their budget clothes.
DEATH: IT CERTAINLY ADDS A NEW TERROR TO POVERTY.
The novel does pose some fairly tricky philosophical questions, however. If we accept that destiny exists as a universal force, and that there is an appointed time for everyone to die, do we then have the right to interfere in that process? When Mort prevents Princess Keli's murder, he also prevents a few hundred years of peace between two kingdoms. Countless time travel stories warn of the dangers of meddling with history, but is Mort wrong to be meddling in the present?
This question is not really answered explicitly, which is probably just as well. Mort's character certainly develops through the book, and it's an interesting question whether he would have acted similarly if faced with the same situation at the end.
So, serious issues and serious drama are masked by humour (and it is hysterical humour). Pratchett carefully includes several viewpoints through the different characters. Clearly, the old man's thoughts on death are going to be very different from those of the young princess or Mort.
The book's climax divides me. On the one hand, the final confrontation between Death and his apprentice is a show-stopping, nail-biting conclusion. On the other, Albert's trip back into the real world is a bit of a non-sequitur, an opportunity to crowbar in Pratchett's regular Unseen University characters such as Rincewind and the Librarian for a bit of a cameo. It's an odd step, particularly as this was before the university's faculty became as well-defined as it is in later novels.
But this is the smallest quibbles about one of the earliest classics of the Discworld series.
My copy of Mort cost £4.99, which really just shows how long ago I bought it. Cover price is probably about £6.99 these days, but as always you can get it much cheaper on Amazon, etc.
Title - Mort
Mort - the hero
Ysabell - the pretty lady
Death - the Father
Albert - the stuck in his ways help at the Death Mansion
Mort doesn't fit in at all on the farm. He is as Adrian mole would describe as an intellectual, constantly thinking weird thoughts. His father decides that farm work isn't for his son, and so takes him to the locale town for the apprenticeship fair.
Despite his best efforts Mort does not get an apprenticeship, until a skeleton on a white horse appears.
Death has decided to take a holiday so he trains Mort up and disappears. Hilarity, love and the questioning of ones self ensue with many a question that will delve deep into ones morals.
As the first of the death books this makes a great impression, stating that although death has no glands, and thus is incapable of emotion, he still loves his daughter Ysabell, and will do anything to make her happy. This book instills death as a favorite to Discworld readers, and contains some of the funniest dialogs of all the Discworld novels. 'be gone thou black and midnight hag'.
Death invites a different sort of humor. His dry wit is made even funnier by the lack of understanding of human subtleties.
I loved this book from start to end
This is an amazingly funny Discworld novel with twists turns, love and Death at every corner.
An Evil.Sam review.
Mort - Terry Pratchett.
~ About the Author ~
Terry Pratchett is one of the best known of Fantasy writers out there. He began writing in 1983, and when I first began reading his books (I read his second novel The Light Fantastic just after publication) no-one really knew who he was! It couldn't be more different today, and this has lead to one bizarre claim to fame - In the UK, he holds the record for the greatest number of books that are shoplifted!
Pterry (as many of his fans will refer to him, harking back to a particular novel) does more than just write about a fantasy world. He includes puns, cultural and historical references and also has a use of footnotes (less obvious in later books) that comment about the narrative (usually in a funny way). Another aspect of his writing is he tends to avoid use of chapters in books (although there are some rare exceptions to this).
His style, for me at least - is pretty unique.
Pterry was a journalist, who admits that he would write about his experiences while working as a press officer for the Central Electricity Generating board (CEGB) which including covering nuclear power stations - If he thought he would be believed!
I was also fortunate enough to meet Pterry in 1994.
Unfortunately he has recently been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's, but has pledged to carry on writing.
~ Book Synopsis ~
Death comes to us all, but when he came to Mort, he offered him a job. After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted.......
Yes I know, this is straight off the back cover of the book - But it is one of those immortal lines that you just can't help but use when being asked about Mort! So I put my hands up and admit I've used it - But I just couldn't ignore it!
Okay then, now onto my own words about it all.....
This is a book set on the mythical Discworld, of which there are now at least 37 titles belonging to this series! Some link together, others can be read as stand alone books.
The Discworld itself is a flat world balanced on the backs of four elephants that are in turn standing on the back of a giant turtle floating through space.
Mort is someone who is always overlooked. You know the sort of boy - When picking out the sports team at school he's the one left and has to be picked reluctantly by whoever is left with no other option! He tries to be helpful, he really does! But somehow he just manages to always make things worse. In desperation, his father takes him to a local hiring fair where boys are lined up and taken on as apprentices.
And, as so often in his life, Mort is left in the street all alone having watched all the other boys find apprenticeships.
Just as he is about to give up hope, Death arrives - And offers Mort a job.
Once Mort realizes that being dead wasn't compulsory (as we've already seen) he accepts the job and is taken to the place that Death calls home.
The house and surrounding area are all varying shades of Black..... And more surprising for Mort is that there are two other humans who live with Death. Albert, his surly servant whose idea of cooking is to fry everything, and Ysabell, Deaths daughter.
And this is where it begins to get complicated - Mort questions a decision, as well as beginning to fall for Ysabell - And soon his actions are causing cosmic chaos!
Can Death find a way to repair the damage that has been done? And will Ysabell see Mort in a different light and not just as a clumsy gawky teenage boy?
~ Thoughts about the book ~
I am an avid Pterry fan! As someone who was fortunate enough to be around before he became too well known, I've also been able to enjoy his writings for a long time now. I believe he is unique in his style - and the best out there. There are some authors who come very close, but never quite with the same quirks that Pterry manages, and this book is a prime example of his work.
In fact, this or Guards, Guards (another of his work) are the books I would tell anyone looking to get into Pterry's writing to begin with. My original copy of the book is now getting very dog eared to look at since its been passed around numerous family and friends over the years - I've now given it a honorary retirement and it sits on the bookcase, only brought down by me to read on occasion. A newer version now has the pleasure of being moved through various hands to be read.
This is a superb example of what Terry Pratchett's writing is about. You see references to our own world, old and new, ancient and modern, brilliantly integrated into the story. Humour just spills out of the pages, in just about all its forms.
Death is a character you just can't help but love! His horse is real flesh and blood, a white steed called ....... Binky!
His entrance is just sublime - I won't say anything more here because I wouldn't be able to without giving it all away, but it has to be one of the best entrance lines for a character I've ever witnessed reading a book. Even today, I still find myself chuckling about it and never tire reading it.
Is there a downside? Well only marginal and that is that it isn't a long book by any real standard. However, I don't think it detracts any from the quality of the storytelling of Pterry and the characters. It's a riot of a read for me, so while it isn't as long as some of his later books in particular, I find it a totally enjoyable read and wouldn't change a thing about it.
~ Final Thoughts ~
As I've said, I'm an avid fan of Pterry, but if someone said to me I had to reduce my collection of his books down to just 5 books - this would have to be in there! Perhaps other books bring the Dicsworld to the fore more than this one does, but there aren't many that will have you laughing as much as this book can.
And as much as it pains me to write this, I know some readers just don't 'get' Pterry! I don't know why, but some people just find it hard to read his books and give up. I've even heard someone say his writing is dull!
However, some people have said they would never contemplate his stories because he writes Fantasy - And I would urge anyone to look beyond that, start with something like Mort and give it a try. I think most people who have avoided him until now because of the Fantasy element might just be surprised.
Certainly the people I've know personally who hadn't read him because of this but have eventually relented when I've pestered them have by and large gone on to become fans of his work.
Mort - A rip roaring, side splitting book from the best out there in this style. 5 Stars without a doubt.
~ Availability ~
From Amazon.co.uk in paperback from £5.49.
This is my review, also on Ciao.
Mort stands silently next to his father, the last remaining boy at the hiring fair. Approaching midnight it appears that no one is willing to take him on as an apprentice. His father told him all that thinking and reading of books put people off and perhaps he was right. Suddenly, a horse appears with a hooded figure aboard. Perhaps things will turn out all right after all
"Mort" is Terry Pratchett's fourth Discworld novel. Sat on a flat, disc shaped planet that floats through space on the back of a giant turtle it is a land were witches, wizards and dwarves mix while Gods look on. In such a world if someone says, "You look like Death" they mean the person (or anthropomorphic personification) not the condition.
"Mort" is an advancement in the Discworld novels in that it introduced for the first time what many people consider to be the Discworld's best character in DEATH. For those who are wondering capital letters represent his booming Brian Blessed style presence throughout, as such DEATH is always presented in capitals, as is his speech. Many, including myself consider this to be Pratchett's finest novel as DEATH is explored as a character and revealed not to be the ruthless assassin against whom no lock could hold. But rather a flawed character fascinated by humanity and in effect becoming more human as time goes on. This novel pretends to be about Mort, a young boy with no direction who learns the importance of choice yet we, as readers know it's really about DEATH and how he deals with the possibility of life and living it.
This is not to say the other characters and sub-plots are of no interest. Mort's hapless plight as a bumbling apprentice is intriguing, as is his descent into amorality as he begins to lose himself and become someone else. Supporting characters including a theoretically dead princess, a wizard who has discovered his libido and DEATH's manservant Albert, the most powerful wizard alive who claims his only skills are frying porridge make a hilarious side-show to the serious business of life and death.
The multiple plot lines running through this novel make this a fast paced, addictive read as More messes with history and tampers with reality while DEATH gets drunk, goes to a party and tries to get a job. This could be disjointed in another writer's hands but Pratchett's writing flows and ebbs as we leap from action to drama.
Of course in the end it all comes back to DEATH and the majority of the humour in this novel are from him. Pratchett favours DEATH in all his novels and as such gives him all the best lines. From the moment DEATH meets Mort and says the immortal line, "I DON'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, he said, BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY." You are hooked. Pratchett has a way of taking fantastical characters and giving them conventional situations that entertains even the most hardened of readers.
At 320 pages this a short but oh so funny novel packed with quotes. It is ideal for those yet to acquaint themselves with the Discworld phenomenon as no prior knowledge is required and I strongly urge anyone with a sense of humour to give this one a try. What else can I do to convince you then? As Albert would say, "Sodomy non sapiens".
Paperback 320 pages
Publisher: Corgi Adult
Price: £3.99 on Amazon.uk
A giant turtle slowly makes it's way across the vast emptiness that is space, and on it's meteor pocked shell stand four over-sized elephants, on whose backs rests the flat, circular, and highly magical Discworld. Discworld is world of heroes, heroines, witches and wizards, where magic is a very real part of life and DEATH may just come to collect your soul in (non) person, but there again he might just send Mort (his new apprentice) instead
As this, the fourth of the Discworld series begins, we meet Mortimer, a gangly lad who not only appears to be all elbows and knees, but also thinks about things rather more than is good for him. He's not a bad lad, just not the type his father wants working on the farm, and so he is taken to the hiring fare, in the hope that he might be suitable for a trade, any trade. Sadly, as the clock begins to strike midnight, poor, old (young) Mort is the only lad who hasn't been apprenticed and it looks like he's going to have to return to the farm in shame. But then a black robed figure on a white horse appears, and the ultimate undertaker seems to need some hired help .
If you want to find out any more about how the story turns out, then I'm afraid you're going to have to find yourself a copy of the book. What I will tell you though is that, just for once with a Discworld novel, the actual story is quite important and even follows a reasonably good plot. I say just for once, because something I've noticed with these particular fantasy novels is that the story is actually secondary to both the jokes and characters.
Talking of jokes, I don't know if it was just me, but I really didn't find this book as funny as others in the series. Yes there were a few puns (or punes even) scattered within the pages, but there was no point at which I laughed out loud. This was a little disappointing but, thankfully, the actual characterisations more than made up for the lack of laughs.
The main character of the book, is not (as you might think) Mort (although he obviously plays an important part), indeed it is that ultimate in undertakers, DEATH, who steals the show. In the three books previous to this one, we had only been shown glimpses of DEATH's character, in fact just enough to whet our appetites. In this book, however, DEATH comes into his own, his naivety, and lack of understanding of human emotions really shines through. I found DEATH to be such a complex character, that it was, at times, hard to remember that he is essentially just a skeleton, and as for his struggles to understand the human world around him, well what can I say
I've already told you about Mort, and there is very little to add about his character, except as the book itself says, he's one of those dangerous people that really wants to know how things work. Throughout the book, we are also introduced to a few other characters (which may or may not become important in later books), including Albert, the butler who may (or may not), be all that he seems, and Ysabell, DEATH's adoptive daughter.
So what do I think this book is about? Well I can, of course, only give my impression, but my overall feeling was that the book was particularly showing how certain jobs can mould you. I know this sounds a little strange, but I really felt that it took a stereotypical role and then looked at how it affects the person playing it. I'm sure that you'd reach your own conclusions, and possibly find many other examples of our life mirrored in the book, but I'll leave you to discover them for yourself.
The thing that has always impressed about the Discworld novels, is the many layers contained within them, and this is no exception. At the very simplest level, there is a simple plot that can be followed by young and old, but on further re-reading you can discover Pratchett's sharp observations on our "civilised" lifestyle, and the little swipes he is taking at us all. The final layer in the book can be found in the many footnotes, without which many of his loyal readers would be sorely disappointed. Although this book is aimed at an adult audience, I see no reason why younger readers would not be able to enjoy reading it, even if they don't quite get all the jokes.
So who am recommending this book to? Well, for anybody who has already read some of the Discworld novels, then this is a must, especially if you plan to read some of the later works, such as Hogfather. To those that haven't yet made their first steps into this fantasy world, I would say that due to the fact that this book does not depend too heavily on you having read previous books in the series, then this would make quite a good first foray. If however, you prefer serious writings or chick-lit then this may not be the book for you. There is not a serious (or lovey-dovey) moment to be found, from the bright cartoon cover through to the very last page, but if you enjoy the writing style as much as I do, you will find that you are unable to put it down until you reach those magic words .The End.
Paperback : 315 pages
Publisher : Corgi Adult
ISBN : 0552131067
Price : £5.59 from Amazon (UK)
As I write this there is a documentary currently showing on BBC1 called A Life of Grime which follows some real-life characters in their day to day jobs. The common thread is that while all their jobs are essential, not many of us would want to do them. Well, does catching rats, collecting rubbish or unblocking sewers appeal to you?
These are the jobs that we don't like to think about and instead just assume someone else will do. We put our rubbish out in the morning and by the time we get home from work it's gone, as if by magic. And talking of magic (nice link huh?) the Discworld also has a number of essential jobs and none more so than that performed by the being known as Death.
Often overlooked or taken for granted Death has something of a hectic schedule and is a very busy chap. It's true to say that he is not expected to put in an appearance everytime a Discworld inhabitant shuffless off the mortal coil but he has to make the effort if the soon to be departed happens to be a wizard, royalty or some other VIP.
Then there is the paperwork and keeping track of when and where he is required, not to mention maintaining a room full of lifetimers (like eggtimers but they last longer) representing the Discworlds' inhabitants and looking after his adopted daughter Ysabell. He does have some help on the home front in the shape of Albert who would appear to be Deaths butler but Albert is getting on a bit (well quite a lot actually).
Meanwhile on the Discworld the hiring fair is coming to town. This is where youngsters get employed as apprentices in various trades and this year Lezek has decided it's time for his lanky, well-meaning son Mort to go to work. Standing in the square with all the other hopefuls the day slowly passes as one by one the others get their apprenticeships.
Eventually Mort is the only one left. Despite his humiliation he is determined to stay until the very end of the day. As the bells start to ring at midnight a stranger approaches Mort. His father sees this character as an undertaker but Mort sees him for who he is. Death has decided to get an apprentice.
Naturally to begin with Mort has a lot to learn, not least getting to grips with the fact that Deaths mighty steed is called Binky. But, once he learns that it isn't a job requirement to be dead he begins to settle into the role. Initially it's not all he expects spending most of his time clearing out the stables but eventually he gets to accompany Death on 'the duty'.
But this is the Discworld and things very rarely run smoothly. Just as Mort is beginning to get the hang of his responsibilities he very nearly causes a major catastrophe when, on one of his first solo jobs he ends up saving the life of a young princess rather than helping her into the afterlife. But going against the normal course of nature proves not to be such a wise move.
At the point Mort saves the princess the Discworlds' timeline splits into two realities, one in which the princess died (as was her destiny) and the one Mort created in which she is alive. Being unable to support these two different realities, nature attempts to resolve this conflict by restoring the more powerful reality - the one in which the princess died. Obviously this isn't good news for the princess (or Mort who has fallen in love with her).
As if to complicate matters Death has gone walkabout deciding to take advantage of the free time he now has and invest in a little rest and recreation. Oh, and just possibly investigate the phenomenon of being drunk.
Will Mort be able to save the princess and still put the universe back in order? Welcome to 'Mort', book four in the thirty strong Discworld series written by British author Terry Pratchett.
If you have read any of the books in the series (or happened to come across some of my previous Discworld ops for that matter) then you probably know what to expect from this book. I'd call them comic fantasy. Well, how else would you label a series of adventures that take place on a flat disc shaped world which is supported on the back of four giant elephants who, in turn, stand on the back of a giant Space Turtle? Exactly.
Let's get this out of the way first. I'll acknowledge there are twenty-six books still to go (although I have read the next three) but this is easily my favourite in the series so far. Mainly this is down to the meaty role Death gets. Mort may be the hero of the story but Deaths' brief appearances in the previous books have always left me wanting more and I'm pleased to say Mr P hasn't disappointed.
Mort remains a self-contained story and no prior knowledge of events chronicled elsewhere in the series is required to thoroughly enjoy this tale. However I personally prefer to do things in order and, as always, I'd recommend reading the series as written to get the most from it since previous exposure to the Discworld will certainly add that little something extra to your enjoyment of this book.
Mr P had started to explore his Discworld universe with his last book, 'Equal Rites', but here he seems to be really enjoying himself exploring the life (if that's the right word) of one of his earlier creations. Despite his fleeting appearances in previous books in the series, Death is quite possibly my favourite character yet encountered.
Only four books into the series and already we can see some developments in the Discworld universe although not all of them are consistent. For example, in the first Discworld novel entitled 'The Colour of Magic', Death is seen in an act of frustration touching a passing fish salesman resulting in him dropping dead on the spot. In Mort we discover Death isn't so much responsible for killing people, his role is just to be there when they die and escort them to the next world. Oh and he likes cats a lot.
The writing is fluid throughout and this is a more entertaining and gripping story than any of the previous three books. There is a genuine desire to discover the outcome as much because you care for the characters as for simply finding out how (or indeed if) the various threads will get tied up.
While on the subject of the characters those featured here are as diverse a bunch as any we have encountered before.
Mort develops quite a lot over the course of this book and it's very easy to get caught up in things as we accompany him during his adventures. Spending some time with Death during his day to day duties proves very entertaining although the laughs do move up a gear when he decides to take some time off. And we meet his adopted daughter Ysabell who is very restless and perhaps eager for a few adventures of her own after what must be a very lonely lifestyle.
Smaller roles go to Cutwell, a wizard who tries to help Mort and princess Keli who seems to be having a lot of trouble convincing everyone that she is actually alive. Even Albert, who is an absolute demon with a frying pan, has a few tricks up his sleeve
While staying true to the world he had previously created - an abundance of natural magic has resulted in a world populated by wizards, witches and so on - the story here is much more approachable than many fantasy novels and even, in some respects, the previous three Discworld books.
Pratchetts writing style is as we have grown to expect. The book is not split into chapters, there are regular footnotes* and a huge amount of humorous situations and one-liners - perhaps some of the best of the series so far. Death getting drunk ranks as one of my favourite scenes.
Now that I'm hopefully out of Dooyoos' no capitals zone (although you are not missing much if we're not) there is another aspect of the writing that I'd like to mention. As with all previous Discworld books whenever Death speaks his lines are presented in capitals, rather than quotes SO IT LOOKS LIKE THIS. This might seem a very small detail but it does mean that without any further explanation you always know when he has appeared.
But it's put to excellent use in several sequences in the book where both Mort and Deaths' characters start to undergo some changes, Mort becoming more like Death and Death almost becoming more human. As I said, a small detail but one which is used to wonderful effect.
It's about here that I'd point out any flaws with the book but I can't honestly think of any. I've already mention the slight inconsistencies between Deaths first appearance and his character here but to be honest it's a very minor point. I can't fault any other aspect of the book.
If you are one of those who have at some time dipped their toes into the Discworld pool and even remotely enjoyed what you've found then make sure you include Mort as part of that experience. For more regular readers we get the added bonus of uncovering a little more of the way the Discworld works.
Five stars will have to do since I'm unable to award more but as far as I am concerned this is comic fantasy at it's best. Quite often people will describe a book as being unputdownable. To be honest I've not encountered many examples but this is genuinely one of them. Even if I can't persuade you to tackle the whole Discworld series (and I'm going to give it a damn good shot) I am going to have to insist you at least give this a try.
In my previous Discworld ops I've highlighted a few offers around at the time. Without going into too much detail here again it shouldn't take too much shopping around on the internet (Amazon.co.uk is usually worth a look) or High Street (WH Smiths often has offers on paperbacks) to save yourself a few pounds off the RRP.
For my next Discworld op we will be indulging in a little Sourcery, although sometimes I feel I could do with a miracle if I'm ever to finish reviewing the whole series ...
Thanks for reading.
© Nomad 2003
* Like this only much more humorous
'Mort' by Terry Pratchett
316 pages, published by Corgi, £6.99
Some websites worth a look
The L Space Web - http://www.ie.lspace.org/
Discworld monthly - http://www.ufbs.co.uk/dwm/
Terry Pratchett Books - http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/
Other Discworld book reviews by me
'Destination Discworld' an opinion on Book 1 - 'The Colour Of Magic'
'Fantastical Magical' an opinion on Book 2 - 'The Light Fantastic'
'Men Only' an opinion on Book 3 - 'Equal Rites'
If you?ve ever picked up and read a Terry Pratchett book then I?m sure you?ve been affected for the rest of your life, his books are very compulsive reading. He?s witty, hilarious, cheeky, intelligent and imaginative. He writes about The Discworld and has published numerous books and trilogies. Books of fantasy, witches, wizards, heroes, villans and of course Death is always somewhere lurking around in the background. This book I?m reviewing is called Mort and tells the story of a young lad who ends up being the apprentice of Death. But first let me tell you a bit about Terry Prachett. He lives in Somerset with his wife and daughter and grows carnivourous plants as a hobby. He was born in Buckinghamshire in 1948 and chose his career in writing, some other books he?s famous for are The Carpet people, mean?t for children but an excellent read if you get your hands on it. This was the first book I ever read by Terry Prachett and got me instantly hooked on his work, I now have a huge collection of his books. I find them at the bootsales usually priced at one pound, you can also buy them at bookshops for around 8 to 10 pounds. Truckers, Theif of Time, Hogfather, Pyramids, Lords and Ladies, Witches Abroad, Wyrd Sisters, Sourcery and The colour of Magic are just a few of his other books I have got. I can?t list them all as I?d risk boring you, but would recommend you to get your hands on any of his books to be spellbound and captivated. Right now on to the task of telling you how great this book Mort is. Mort is a young lad who is at the age where all young lads are taken into apprenticeship to learn a trade which will help them to get on in life. The only trouble is Mort is a gangley, clumsy and strange the sort of a child who seemed to think too much and didn?t get on with the job in hand. He had a mind to discover the underlaying logic behind the universe which worried his parents, he should be grafting and working hard
in the field. Still if they found him an apprenticeship then it wouldn?t be their problem and maybe he?d learn something usefull. They decided to take him on to a place called Sheepridge on Hogwatch Eve. This was the place where all young lads who were looking to be chosen for an apprentice went. All the young lads were clustered together and Mort had to go and stand by them and wait to see if he?d be chose. One by one the other lads went, some into carpenter, others into theivery and others into masonary, farriers, hoodwinkers and assasins. As midnight aproached there was only Mort stood alone. There was a clip clopping of hoofs on cobblestones and as the horse neared the square it trotted proudly towards Mort. The figure sat upon it was tall and as he came to a halt Mort could see the tall figure was dressed in a long dark cloak. As the tall figure strode towards Mort it slipped on some ice and a deep voice boomed out into the night OH BUGGER! Because Death always speaks in a loud voice. Mort ran to help and Death asked him his name and a few questions. When Mort found out that he didn?t have to be dead to take on the apprenticeship he readily agreed. Maybe he would be able to find out the answer to all those burning questions in his head. Thus begins the adventure of Mort, Death?s new apprentice. Include in the story of Mort is romance, adventure, the muddle that Mort creates by recueing a princess from dying and the repercussions it has and all the people it effects. The twist and turns of this hilarious book will hold your attention and for you to really appreciate it you?ll have to find a copy. I hope I?ve wet your appetite.
"I'm bored." I moaned to mum (I must have been too young at 11 to realise saying this was more than likely going to end up with me doing some chore or another) "I've got nothing to do." In response mum handed me a book. This marked an historical point in history. This is where my love affair with Terry Pratchetts Discworld began. The book she had given me was "Mort" I was already familiar with Pratchetts work. I had already read the Johnny series and the bromeliad. I was a first time visitor to the flat planet carried upon the back of four giant elephants who in turn stand upon the carapace of the space turtle Great Atuin. It wouldn't be my last. Well getting back to the book, I read the sleeve hoping to get a bit of insight and this is what I read: "Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job" this had me in stitches. It's a far bet that if you chuckle at the spiel written on the back of the book you'e going to giggle yourself silly when reading the main content. I definitely giggled myself silly; I eagerly read every word and was sad to reach the end. I had to have my next fix of the Discworld and to this day I still need my occasional Discworld fix. I am truly addicted. Mort was your typical country teenager all elbows and knees. His Father decided it was high time Mort found some useful employment and took him off to the Apprentice fair in Sheepridge. As the clock began to chime midnight, poor Mort was the only lad left, He and his father were about to leave when a mysterious man on a white charger rushes in and offers Mort a job. His father thinks he?s letting him go to a reputable undertaking firm, when actually Mort is going to be an apprentice to the ultimate undertaker. Death. Things started out quite well for Mort, once he got used to the all-pervasive black of deaths domain. He mucked out Binky quite su
ccessfully and he has learnt to avoid Albert (lets call him a cook in the absence of a better word) and his fried breakfast. He has met Deaths daughter, Ysabell who is partial to chocolates and everything pink and lacy. Mort has even been on a few "jobs" with Death and although it all seems a little well, morbid really, he reckons he can do a pretty good job with that scythe. When Death lets Mort take a few easy jobs on his own that is when things start to go really wrong. In a misguided attempt to do good he decides not to send Princess Keli on to her next life as he thinks that a pretty young lady shouldn?t be murdered in her own bed. The thing is history is convinced she is dead and nobody believes she's really there. She hires Cutwell the wizard (again we'll call him that as its the closest word that fits the bill) as royal recogniser. His job is to keep everyone aware that Princess Keli is alive and well. To cap this all off there is a strange force homing in on Keli and Mort really doesn't know what to do. However Death has disappeared. He needs a break apparently, its hard being an anthropomorphic being you know! This is a hilarious romp through the lands of the discworld, I personally think this is a brilliant first foray into this rather weird and wacky parallel earth and would recommend it to anyone not familiar with Pratchett and his Discworld books. As the beauty of this selection of books is that you don?t really have to read them in any order they are all good stand-alone stories. I have purposely not gone into the story too much because I don't want to spoil your fun when you read it. That was a subtle hint. (For lack of another word to describe it) You can buy Mort at Amazon for the measly sum of £3:59 or you can purchase the audiocassette there for just £8:99. Go on; treat yourself, after all Death comes to us all eventually. Best to do
some research now so you'll know what to do if he happens to offer you a job!
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.