Title: Mort (Discworld 4)
Author: Terry Pratchett
Release Date: April 1st, 1989
Subjects and Themes: Death
Page Count: 272 (paperback)
Yesterday was the “official” review post date but I didn’t actually start the book until Sunday, so you’re getting this one fashionably late!
So. Mort. This book’s been hyped to hell and back by everyone and I went into it clutching wide-eyed excitement in one hand and squinty skepticism in the other.
And, well, turns out all you hypers were right, because this is my favourite of the Discworld books so far (which may not be saying a lot seeing as how we’re only four books in, but still).
Here are some reasons why I think the book worked for me:
1. It’s explores a master/apprentice relationship in a macabre profession, which I have a particular weakness for. Professions like gravediggers, morticians, “monstrumologists,” and well, grim reapers. There’s something about the handling of death and the act of sharing that craft with a younger person that I find hopelessly romantic.
Sometimes I think I should have been born in a Victorian gothic novel.
2. I love, love Mort as a character. First of all, he’s an underdog–I can’t not root for those. Second of all, he’s this wonderful mix of teenage eagerness–of wanting to prove himself to others and to himself–and thoughtfulness. He’s utterly endearing and hands-down my favourite of the Discworld protagonists so far.
3. Speaking of endearing, I love this version of Death. He reads like the mysterious, eccentric relative you’ve been sent to live with for the summer. And when you ask your parents what Uncle Tim does for a living, they just flap their hands vaguely and say, “Oh, you know, he does the thing.”
And you go, “What thing?”
“You know…the thing.”
Turns out they can’t quite recall what it is. Strange. And then when you get there you find out that, oh hey, Uncle Tim is in the Grim Reaping business. And he’s kind of awkward and old-fashioned and–true to his reputation–eccentric, but he tries very hard to connect with you, and you can’t help but find it lovable.
He’s not my favourite Death incarnation (that title goes to a certain goth girl created by a different British author), but he’s definitely up there.
4. The humour really clicked with me this time around. It’s weird, because it’s the same humour–it’s still Pratchett at the helm–but with Mort as a main character, it feels…more grounded. Less loud. Still witty but not too gratuitous. It’s hard to explain.
3. It’s touching. I couldn’t really say that about the previous books, but the character dynamics combined with the musings on death and fate makes for a story with a surprising amount of heart.
And Pratchett has a way of dressing up small wisdoms and life’s truths in the most whimsical garb:
History unravels gently, like an old sweater. It has been patched and darned many times, reknitted to suit different people, shoved in a box under the sink of censorship to be cut up for the dusters of propaganda, yet it always – eventually – manages to spring back into its old familiar shape. History has a habit of changing the people who think they are changing it. History always has a few tricks up its frayed sleeve. It’s been around a long time.
In short, I loved it a lot more than I thought I would.
So I’m giving this one four and a half elephants riding turtles out of five!
Here are the awesome bloggers who are participating this month! Go see what they thought of Mort!
Book Beach Bunny
Confessions of a Serial Reader
Meeghan @ Meeghan Reads and Bakes
Nicole @ The Bookworm Drinketh
Storm of Pages
I’m SO pleased you found a corner of Discworld to really love, Kathy! I also loved this book and enjoyed the dynamic between Mort and Death – though my personal favourite character of all the Discworld cast is Granny Weatherwax… I’m aspiring to turn into her as I get older, though I don’t think I have the boots.
I’ve been really looking forward to this one and am happy it didn’t disappoint! And I think you’d make a wonderful Granny Weatherwax! Though I suppose Granny isn’t much of a reader. 😛
I should probably give Pratchett another try, I feel bad that I haven’t read this series!
You should! Though I can totally see why his style of writing might not be for everyone. It’s very Dr. Suess-sian
[…] Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky […]
This sounds terrific, Kathy! Your favorite Discworld so far! Did suitcase make an appearance in this one? I’m no sure I have the name right but that’s my favorite character just from reading reviews! 😂 ♥️ Do you think I’d get anything out of it if I skipped the first couple and went straight to Mort, or would I be completely lost? Wonderful review!
Oh my gosh, I’m so happy you remembered the luggage!! No sentient objects in this one, I’m afraid, but I’m crossing my fingers it appears in a later book. 😀 And you can 1000% skip the previous books and go straight to this one!
I knew that wasn’t the right name- I should have googled it! 😂 Yay, I’m going to take note of Mort! ♥️
Ha ha!! I totally agree with you!! I love Mort and I love his transition from boy to man.
I also don’t know if this is my favourite personification on the grim reaper (aka death)… There is also a toss up for my between this death, ‘a dirty job’ by Christopher Moore and Death in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. 😂😂🍻 Great review, and I’m glad we all seemed to love the book!! 💖
Oh now I wish we had a meeting between the two deaths! I think one of my favorite versions of the grim reaper (several) are from the show Dead Like Me where basically some people who die get to do it or the Book Thief. But yeah it would be interesting to go back over all the famous characters of Death! Enjoyed your review!
So do I!! I started going through fanfic scenarios in my head about Death and er, Death going backpacking around our world. And the version in the Book Thief is definitely one of my top three! Love the idea of a weary, heartsick death. 🙂
So I’ve decided I’m definitely making Discworld my pet project for next year. Hoping I get through at least half of them before the year is up. I’ve read a couple and Small Gods is in my top five books ever so…I have no excuses and your reviews have really been inspiring me as well. 🙂
AHH I’m so happy to hear that! You’ll probably finish the series WAY before us! 😂
Maybe. We’ll see how it goes! I think I want to do them in audio because I won’t have to put my other priority books on hold but then I have to see about getting some from audible because my library only has so many…it’s going to take a bit of planning. 🙂 Totally excited for it though!
Thanks for this review! Completely agree that this book is slightly more toned down than some of Pratchett’s others. I found the Death-Mort mentor relationship endearing. Do you have a favourite Pratchett title?
Thank you for dropping by! <3 And I'm a Pratchett newbie so the first four Discworld books (plus one Tiffany Aching book) are all I've read of his work so far. Mort is currently sitting in the "favourite" spot. 😀
I’d recommend his series about the Watch. It’s great fun!
I’ve heard so many great things about it! We’re reading through these in chronological order, though, so I’m gonna have to wait a bit. 😀
So, could I just pick this up and read without having read the first three books??
Oh heck yes! People have recommended that I skip the first couple and start with Mort, and I can totally see why now
I don’t think I’ve ever read this one oddly enough and feel like I should rectify it immediately. For some reason I get all emotional about the books that feature Death and I think it’s because I adore the version of him that Terry Pratchett has created and how human he becomes throughout the series. The fact that he loves cats helps massively.
I think it always sticks in my mind the time when I watched Terry Pratchett’s documentary about euthanasia. It was so hard hitting but what got me was at one point he said that he got a lot of fan letters from people (especially those who were terminally ill or dying) who said that when their time came they hoped death was just like Death. And then Terry said that those letters always made him take a moment where all he could do was pause and stare at the wall. It sounds maudlin to some but I was quite touched.
Keep up the Discworld readathon, you’re doing a good job!
OOF okay, now that’s got me tearing up a bit! I love that so much!! I can only imagine what it feels like for your characters to have that kind of impact on readers. Have you ever read The Book Thief? I love how Death in that one is this weary person who’s heartsick about all the atrocities of humankind and just wants a reason to keep going. It’s just so relatable and touching. “Human” grim reapers are the BEST.
And thank you!! I feel like we’ve been at this readathon forever and then I realize we’re only 4 books along. 😂
I think it must be such a strange feeling to have people write to you about something you’ve created especially something with such meaning. It was such a good documentary to watch as he was very forthcoming about a lot of his emotions surrounding certain things.
Yes! The Book Thief is such a wowsers book and the personification of death in it is also one of the top ones. I feel like I should do a Top 5 fictional portrayals of death. I kind of love how people like to humanise death though, I think we *need* to humanise it actually. Partly to make something huge a bit more tangible and partly because of our desperate need that something kind or something more human comes for us at the end. I think that’s why Terry Pratchett’s version is still my number one!
A lot of people probably find this quite depressing but I have to say I don’t 😛
Four books in isn’t bad. It’s a marathon not a sprint 😉
[…] Mort by Terry Pratchett ⚔️: Read this as part of our Discworld Readathon! I’ve heard people talk about it like it’s the second coming of Christ, and to my surprise, it was actually really good. [Review] […]