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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man (original 1991; edition 2002)

by Terry Pratchett

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8,45797363 (4.12)204
Title:Reaper Man
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:HarperTorch (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:audioBooks, Your library, Fiction - Humour/Fantasy, Favorites

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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett (1991)



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All is not well on the Discworld. As we’ve seen in earlier books, Death has a habit of being rather more interested in the lives of his…. clients… than he should be, and the Powers That Be are beginning to notice. When the Auditors decide that his attitude is jeopardising his professional detachment, they decide to take action. And so Death, to his surprise, is sacked. The Discworld, never the most stable place at the best of times, is about to face a whole new challenge…

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2017/04/13/reaper-man-terry-pratchett/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Jun 3, 2017 |
What happens when Death fails to claim humans who die? What happens to their bodies, their consciousness, their life force? And what are the consequences for a world in which this calamity takes place?

Terry Pratchett's famous character Death, who only converses in small capitals, has been 'retired' by Azrael, "the Great Attractor, the Death of Universes, the beginning and end of time" -- or the Angel of Death as our monotheistic religions see him. With his scythe and faithful mount Binky he descends on a Discworld farm; here, as Bill Door, he is taken on as a farmhand by Miss Renata Flitworth. Elsewhere on Discworld, and especially in Ankh-Morpeth, people are ceasing to die: witness Windle Poons, the oldest wizard in the world, who after death turns into a zombie. In trying to find a point to his new afterlife he joins the Fresh Start Club (other members include werewolves, vampires, a banshee and a bogeyman) and starts to note curious events unfolding -- things like ovoid snow globes appearing, supermarket trollies multiplying and swear words taking physical form.

This being a Terry Pratchett novel we expect the unexpected, and the unexpected is what we get. And -- it goes without saying -- any review of a Discworld novel is no substitute for experiencing it first hand; all a review can do is indicate the reviewer's experience of it. Myself, I found this at first very slow moving. The stasis created by nobody dying was reflected in a general lack of action in the narrative: Windle Poons wandered hither and yon trying to find what had happened to him, or rather not happened to him; Death settled down to working as a farm labourer and experiencing the ordinary rituals of village life.

But the build-up of life forces on Discworld from people not dying properly had to find an outlet somewhere; and in due course Death's replacement was going to come for Death himself. All this leads to the inevitable crisis and climax, though -- as intimated before -- this being a Pratchett novel it doesn't end quite as the reader might expect.

Here is the strength of Pratchett's writing, Yes, comic fantasy is the name of the game, and there is a lot of humour involved as far as us Earthbound readers are concerned, even if Discworld inhabitants wouldn't necessarily see the funny side of things. But this is not what marks him out for me: what I appreciate is his humanity in the treatment of the individuals he has created. A lesser writer reveals the comic potential in his characters; Pratchett also reveals their mortality. When the time comes for Windle Poons and Miss Flitworth to properly depart this life, that leaving is done so gently and so movingly. And Death, traditionally a faceless harbinger of individual doom, is some body we want to do well, to succeed -- whether it is to understand his charges or to do his job to the best of his ability. As, paradoxically, a believable human personality -- perhaps slightly on the autistic spectrum -- Death nevertheless works hard to get what human beings are about, and we love him for it.

Neil Gaiman talked about Terry Pratchett's anger in his introduction to a posthumous collection of Sir Terry's non-fiction pieces. That anger is a little more muted here, but it's clear he has a hatred of some aspects of modern life. In particular shopping malls. Shopping malls come in for the rough end of Pratchett's satire here, as places that pretty much suck the life out of you. But that's mostly it.

http://wp.me/s2oNj1-reaper ( )
  ed.pendragon | Apr 26, 2017 |
Reaper Man is the story of what happens to Discworld (and to Death himself) when Death is "fired" for developing a sense of self. In Ankh-Morpork, the life forces of everything that should have naturally transitioned start backing up and some souls that should have passed are stuck. Oh, and Death heads to a farm in the country to put his stellar scything skills to use.

This is a book that I liked the first time I read it but didn't love. I thought the two plot lines weren't equally compelling. That definitely changed this time through. I loved Windle Poons, the zombie wizard, and his motley band of undead compatriots. I also loved the transformation of Death into Bill Door. The moment when he told Miss Flitworth that he was afraid to die was heartbreaking. There were so many funny and bittersweet moments in this story that I was a bit disappointed when everything resolved. Even the strange snow globe/trolley/mall plot was amusing.

http://webereading.com/2017/03/marchmagics-reaper-man.html ( )
  klpm | Mar 15, 2017 |
I found this one less satirical than my favorite Discworld books but still a good read. ( )
  leslie.98 | Dec 23, 2016 |
Read May 2001
Read October 2007

October 2007 Review:
Death is given his walking papers by servants of Azrael, the Ultimate End. Chaos ensues and Ankh-Morpork is over run with Life force and a City Predator [a mall] begins to evolve. Death faces the New Death [and takes his old job back] and one Un-dead Wizard helps destroy the Mall. Several Laugh Out Loud moments.

2001 Review:
humorous, light ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (42 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Terry Pratchettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, RonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Planer, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sweet, Darrell K.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn.

Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There's a harvest to be gathered in…
Haiku summary
When Death retires,
Who will replace him? And will
He be any good?

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061020621, Mass Market Paperback)

They say there are only two things you can count on ...

But that was before DEATH started pondering the existential. Of course, the last thing anyone needs is a squeamish Grim Reaper and soon his Discworld bosses have sent him off with best wishes and a well-earned gold watch. Now DEATH is having the time of his life, finding greener pastures where he can put his scythe to a whole new use.

But like every cutback in an important public service, DEATH's demise soon leads to chaos and unrest -- literally, for those whose time was supposed to be up, like Windle Poons. The oldest geezer in the entire faculty of Unseen University -- home of magic, wizardry, and big dinners -- Windle was looking forward to a wonderful afterlife, not this boring been-there-done-that routine. To get the fresh start he deserves, Windle and the rest of Ankh-Morpork's undead and underemployed set off to find DEATH and save the world for the living (and everybody else, of course).

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:08 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

When the Grim Reaper begins to ponder the existential, his Discworld bosses send him off with best wishes and a well-earned gold watch. Death is now having the time of his life, but like every cutback in public service, Death's demise soon leads to chaos and unrest. The 11th novel of Pratchett's Discworld series. (August).… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 6 descriptions

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