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Mort by Terry Pratchett
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Mort (original 1987; edition 2009)

by Terry Pratchett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,232133281 (4.03)330
Member:DieterBoehm
Title:Mort
Authors:Terry Pratchett
Info:Transworld Digital (2009), Kindle Edition, 324 pages
Collections:Your library, Gelesen und in Besitz
Rating:*****
Tags:Roman, Fantasy, England, Discworld, GH

Work details

Mort by Terry Pratchett (1987)

  1. 61
    Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett (Pigletto)
  2. 33
    On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony (elvisettey)
    elvisettey: Similar theme: Death gets a replacement. Wry, with a healthy helping of social critique.
  3. 00
    Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore (Zaklog)
    Zaklog: Although American, not British, Christopher Moore has a very similar sense of humor to Pratchett's. And if you like a story about an unsuspecting, innocent (and often clumsy) man accidentally becoming the Grim Reaper, you'll probably like Moore's book as well. Another wonderful characteristic the two authors share is their ability to combine a bizarre sense of humor with very serious moral subjects. So once you finish the newest Pratchett novel, be sure to check out Christopher Moore.… (more)
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» See also 330 mentions

English (124)  Spanish (2)  French (2)  Polish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  Czech (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
Mort is a short, silly book, and I can appreciate that these days. Mort is a distracted farm boy who is hired to be death's apprentice. The question is whether he'll take over the Master's business... and marry his daughter. Aside from Mort, there are only a handful of other characters: Death himself, Death's adopted daughter, Death's manservant, a princess who is supposed to be dead, and a third-rate wizard. Of course there are other walk-on characters, but I liked the fact that I didn't have to keep track of too many people -- a large cast is the downfall of many more serious fantasy novels, in my opinion. ( )
  Amelia_Smith | May 2, 2015 |
What can I say that hasn't already been said? Loved the metaphors. My first Terry Pratchett book. Better late than never. Reminiscent of Douglas Adams, Wodehouse and the like. Genuinely delighted and can't wait to start and finish with the rest in this series and more. ( )
1 vote maximnoronha | Apr 18, 2015 |
I have a love/hate r'ship with the Discworld books.
I enjoy every encounter I have with Rincewind, the Luggage, and the Librarian.
Carrot is mildly interesting
Bits of concepts throughout the series are clever.
Pretty much the rest of the characters, and books, annoy and/or frustrate me. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
I don't know why it's taken me so long to get round to Terry Pratchett. Maybe it's because the comic fantasy I've sampled up to now has elicited a lukewarm response, humour being such a personal thing. I like word play as much as the next reader, along with left-field concepts, but key literary ingredients such as plotting, a sureness with words and above all characterisation are a must for me; their lack becomes a triumph of superficiality over substance.

Pratchett's Mort I've discovered has both substance and sheen. Fourth in his celebrated Discworld series he skilfully blends whimsy, high fantasy, allusions and, yes, wordplay with a rattling good story, peopled with characters that despite some caricature keep the reader interested right through to the end. Death (yes, the one with a skull face, black cloak and scythe) seeks an apprentice, finding one in sixteen-year-old Mortimer. It adds to the fun if the reader is aware that young Mort's name is a pun on Death's own name, but it is never alluded to despite Mort's irritation that he's nearly always referred to as 'boy'. There is love interest, but is it the headstrong Princess Keli or Death's daughter the prickly Ysabell who grabs Mort's attention? There is an enigmatic figure, Albert -- what is he hiding? There is a comic bumbling wizard, Cutwell, but he isn't the archetypal aged figure with a white beard. There are also various potential villains but the real interest is in the interplay between Death and his apprentice, who progressively seems to be taking on his master's characteristics along with Death's night shift while his master seeks to appreciate the pleasures of the, ah, flesh.

One essential difference between SF and fantasy that I've noticed is this: SF's science-based world of cause and effect can be hugely affected by chaos theory -- the metaphorical spanner in the works is a common plot-driver -- while fantasy's chaotic worlds are equally often predicated on prophecies that need to be fulfilled -- in other words Predestination Rules, meaning no-one can avoid their fate. Now, while it's said that in our own world nothing is certain but death and taxes, in Discworld Death is the only certainty: in Death's library each book writes out real lives in real time and Death with his scythe arrives at the appointed time as indicated by a handy hourglass. But -- and it is a crucial 'but' -- what if, somehow, someone's lifespan is not cut off as preordained? What are the consequences to Discworld's unfolding history? Will Discworld itself slowly unravel?

It doesn't sound much of a barrel of laughs, does it? But Pratchett sounds just the right note for me by his dead-pan narration. He doesn't say 'Hey, I'm telling a joke and you must laugh here...' but keeps plot and characterisation right at the forefront of his novel. He slips in his humour through, for example, vivid similes ("Mort and his gold had about the same life expectancy as a three-legged hedgehog on a six-lane motorway") and violent anachronism (Death in his recognisable medieval guise tells a job-broker that he is an 'anthropomorphic representation'). In fact Death has a particularly individual way of speaking in capitals: asked if he has any particular skills he replies I SUPPOSE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF EXPERTISE WITH AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS? Out of context this may seem as funny as a forgotten online password, but within the narrative it works very well. What works less well for me is whimsical exaggeration, and luckily Pratchett confines these to the odd footnote. These still contain the odd laugh-out-loud gem, however:
Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote.

I mentioned word play as not being a substitute for plot and characterisation, but it is something I appreciate. Here I will mention only a couple of examples, based around the aforementioned Princess Keli. First, her full name is Kelirehenna, as we only discover in the closing stages; I believe this might be a compound of Kelly (at its peak in 1984 the 15th most popular girl's name in the UK) and the novel's dedicatee, Rhianna. Secondly, she is princess of a city-state called Sto Lat, which I fancy is a reference to the city of Astolat in Arthurian legend. However, unlike the Lady of Astolat (also known, thanks to Tennyson, as the Lady of Shalott) who dies because she is snubbed by Sir Lancelot, the Princess of Sto Lat is instead saved from death because a young apprentice is smitten by her, thereby subverting the original.

Mort is a fun treatment of the familiar trope of the Sorcerer's Apprentice (Aarne-Thompson folktale motif AT 325 'The Magician and his Pupil') which has persuaded me that I've missed too much by remaining aloof from Pratchett. ( )
1 vote ed.pendragon | Apr 8, 2015 |
At the apprenticing fair, Mort waits and waits until finally he’s the last boy left in the town square. Then the clock strikes midnight and Death himself comes to offer Mort a job.

Mort is the fourth Discworld book and a fairly reasonable one to start with. While it may not be quite as polished as some latter books, it is better plotted than the previous three and begins the “arc” (sort of a series within a series) of the books about Death, the grim reaper who rides a white horse and carries a scythe.

In Mort, you can see the Discworld begin to fall into the shape of the latter books. There are still some inconsistencies – fans have long argued on whether the Patrician of the first four books is Vetinari or not – but in general, Mort is much more consistent with the latter books. The biggest difference is probably the character of Death himself. However, the events of Mort and the next Death book, Reaper Man, go a long way as to showing how and why Death’s character changed.

Death is a wonderful character. He has this fascination with human kind but is unable to completely understand us.

“It struck Mort with sudden, terrible poignancy that Death must be the loneliest creature in the universe. In the great party of Creation, he was always in the kitchen.”

Mort is eager and more keen on following his heart than the rules. I liked him well enough, but I didn’t find him particularly noteworthy. He’s still more memorable than the secondary characters (besides Death). Ysabell and Albert stand out because they are important to latter books, but Princess Keli and the wizard are completely forgettable.

The plot was quick moving and stayed together well. It’s differently an improvement over the last three. The humor was, as always, remarkably witty. It’s one of those books where you just want to read large swaths of it aloud to share it with anyone in the vicinity.

Mort, however, does have a failing common to the first ten Discworld books. While it may be very funny and entertaining to read, it doesn’t go beyond that the way the more recent novels such as the Watch arc, Small Gods, or Monstrous Regiment have done. So while I do recommend Mort, I would suggest trying one of the previously mentioned books first, so you come in knowing the best Discworld has to offer.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Mar 22, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 124 (next | show all)
The plot leaps along, but the main pleasure is Death itself, as he progresses through a Job Centre interview to a spell as a short-order cook, and further hilarities. Mort should be required reading for all projectors of serious three-volume epic fantasies. Read this, and be subverted.
added by Shortride | editThe Guardian, John Christie (Feb 5, 1988)
 

» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pratchett, Terryprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bauman, JillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kirby, JoshCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salmenoja, MargitTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilkins, RobAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Rhianna
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This is the bright candlelit room where the lifetimers are stored - shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past.
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Book description
When Mort’s father tries to get rid of his dim-witted son by offering him up for apprenticeship, nobody seems to want him – except for an elderly skeleton in a black cloak who turns out to be Death himself! After being accepted into Death’s unusual household, and watching a few souls be guided into the next world, Mort takes over the duty for a night or two, to give his master a break. With one ill-placed stroke of the scythe, he will split history in two, create a paradox that only a powerful wizard can rectify, and send Death on a quest to find out precisely what it is about life that humans enjoy – with predictably hilarious results!
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061020680, Mass Market Paperback)

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestseller in England, where they have catapulted him into the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory.As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:27:00 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Unable to be objective, Mort, Death's bumbling apprentice, kills an assassin instead of Keli, the princess who should have been his victim. Reprint.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 9 descriptions

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