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Mort
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2007
"Mort" is the fourth book in Terry Pratchett's hugely popular Discworld series. He has gone on to win the Carnegie Medal for "The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents" and was awarded the OBE in 1998.

Death - tall guy, somewhat underfed, big grin, carries a scythe - appears in more Discworld books than any other character. However, "Mort" is the first where his appearance in anything other than a very brief cameo - though, admittedly, he remains one of the book's support characters. The book's hero is Mort, the youngest son of a farming family living on the Ramtops. He doesn't quite have the look of a typical hero : although tall and overly-helpful, he's also red-haired, freckled and largely built from knees. His family specialises in distilling wine from reannual grapes - you plant the seed this year and harvest the grape last year. (With the wine, you tend to get the hangover the morning before and need to drink quite a lot to get over it). Mort's lack of talent in the agricultural field (boom boom !), however, is causing some concern for his father. Hoping someone will hire him as an apprentice, Lezek takes his son to the hiring fair at Sheepridge on Hogswatch Night. Although Mort is the last one hired, he is probably the most aptly named apprentice - given that his new boss is Death himself.

Despite Mort's initial discomfort with the position - he doesn't have to be dead himself and the bones look is entirely optional - he decides to accept the position. Death also makes it clear he doesn't do the killing himself - that's up to assassins and soldiers, for example - he just takes over when people die. (He has, however, been known to murder a curry). Life (if that's what you call it) with Death is very strange. His home is designed, unsurprisingly, in varying shades of dark and is much bigger on the inside than on the outside. He also has a daughter called Ysabell and a butler called Albert - both human and not just skeletons - and a horse called Binky. All are also very much alive. The problems start when Mort starts shadowing his new boss at work - specifically, when they are due to escort King Olerv of Sto-Lat into the afterlife. The King has just been assassinated by his ambitious cousin the Duke of Sto-Helit. Unfortunately, Princess Keli is next on the Duke's hitlist and Mort's youthful hormones aren't too happy about this. As soon as Mort starts interfering, other questions start coming to mind - like where does Death get a daughter and why does he need an apprentice ?

Despite his profession, Death is one of the funniest characters on the Discworld. Although it's the first book to give him a starring role, it may prove a slight advantage to have read one or two of the other books. (Rincewind is a particular hobby of Death's so "The Colour of Magic" and "The Light Fantastic may be worth looking into). Very highly recommended.
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on September 7, 2001
DEATH wants to take a break. So who has to take over the task? A lot of souls out there waiting to be processed, y'know?
Easy. Get an apprentice. Experience not important. Horse, scythe and all the curry you'll ever need.
But dont get too involved with your...eer..'clients'. Thats what Mort did, though. Saved someone who was supposed to die just because he thinks she's cute. But the world doesnt like that. When a person who's supposed to die is still walking around, things begin to turn pear-shaped.
So DEATH (no, Im not shouting) needs to sort things out. But where is he? He joined a conga line and is having a jolly time.
This is where the Discworld books start to become laugh out loud funny. The first three books was okay but 'Mort' is the book where Pratchett finally found his funny bone and infects everyone with the laughing disease.
Those who have yet to start the fun ride through the Discworld and the great city of Ankh Morpork should start their journey here.
Enjoy.
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on January 19, 2001
The word on the street is that Pratchett flew out of the gate with this series, hit a downward slide, and then took his time settling back into the Discworld groove. 'Mort', book number four, strikes me as the beginning of the downward slide. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun book, filled with imagination, humour, drama, and rich characters. But it doesn't do much to further this author's reputation.
In terms of narrative, it actually bears a strong resemblance to book #2, 'The Light Fantastic'. In both stories, a supernatural entity slowly moves towards destroying the Discworld (or at least altering it in unimaginable ways). However, the red star from 'Light' is much more menacing than the device Pratchett conjures up here. It's an "interface", representing a thwarted reality, threatening to correct a mistake. My powers of explanation don't do it justice, I know, but Pratchett's do. It's an interesting concoction, but hardly menacing enough to justify the dramatic suspense it's meant to carry. That's really my only complaint here.
The strength of the Discworld series is that Pratchett is a master at taking a simple premise (e.g., What if the wizard charged with saving the world couldn't perform any spells? How would the first female wizard be treated?) and fleshing it out over the length of an enjoyable book. Here, he asks: What would happen if Death took a holiday (an allusion to the movie that inspired 'Meet Joe Black')? Well, we certainly get an answer. And yes, Pratchett's sense of humour is intact. Witness his description of Mort's (Death's apprentice) duties in the horse stables: "Some jobs offer increments. This one offered -- well, quite the reverse." I was knocked backwards when I caught that one! It's the kind of joke that shows Pratchett's verbal dexterity, as well as his complete trust that his audience will be paying attention.
Pratchett's real achievement is his depiction of the afterworld. Death's lair uses the same cliched symbols we've all seen before (hourglasses show how much time everyone has left to live; a library features instantaneously self-updating books representing all individual's life narratives; Death is a skeleton in a black cloak, wielding a menacing scythe). But it compares favourably with Albert Brooks' movie 'Defending Your Life' for its quite ingenious and original (and wonderfully self-referential) rendering of the mechanics of death.
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on July 8, 2001
This is my first Terry Pratchett book - and frankly, after reading this book, I'm not sure why I didn't start earlier. But first - "Mort" tells about Mort, a young boy living in the Discworld who is looking for an apprentice position. Fortunately (or not), Death - yes, the grim reaper - is looking for an apprentice and Mort seems like a very good candidate. Mort takes on the offer and starts a rather bizarre existence.. especially since he falls in love with one of his "Clients" and refuses to let her die, thus, challenging the destiny and gods of the Discworld.
As a stranger to discworld I was a bit afraid that I will not understand many of the puns and ideas of this book, but it is *completely* self contained. I did feel there were some references that I wasn't familiar with, but nothing which ruined the fun in the least. Very highly recommended, reading it was a nonstop pleasure.
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on December 7, 2001
After reading the first three books, I knew I liked Terry Pratchett. So my brother bought me Mort at a book store. It is the first in the Death subseries of the Discworld series. This one had more Discworld "feel" than Equal Rites. But it is not as good as "The Light Fantastic", my favorite so far. This book is about Death's apprentice, Mort, who takes over while Death finds ways of having Fun. Some of the scenes with Cutwell the wizard are funny, and Rincewind makes a brief appearence. I liked the duel between Death and Mort, and there were many truly funny scenes in Mort. But it was not my favorite. My order, from best to worst, of the ones I read are: 1. Light Fantastic 2. Equal Rites 3. Mort 4. Color of Magic
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on December 15, 1999
Mort was the first Discworld novel I read - it just happened to cross my path and I had nothing better to do. Actually, I'm no friend of sf, but it made me literally fall out of bed laughing. Now I'm hooked and am reading my way through the entire Discworld series. By the way - I peeked into the German edition of a Pratchett (that I had read in English) when I was visiting a friend and had nothing to read with me, but I was really disappointed. I reread the same passages later in English - they were as good as ever. The translations are just not as full of bubbly humour, laughs and sarcasm as the original versions! Keep it up, Terry, but watch out for lousy translations!
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on June 28, 1999
The first Pratchett book I read. Have read all since that day many years ago and eagerly anticipate the new books. The book contains the quote of the decade - 'What's a curry?' - 'You ever eaten a red hot ice cube, that's a curry!'
Having read all that Terry has written I recommend to all to read them - especially 'Moving Pictures', the Witches books and The Guards books (Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and ladis and Masquerade (Witches)) (Guards Guards, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay and Jingo (Guards)).
Also if you know England and have seen the Omen then read Good Omens - I shall say now more other than read and enjoy!
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on June 20, 2001
Death has already featured in the first three Discworld novels, but only as a minor character - at best, he merely boded, at worst, he got a bit annoyed at Rincewind for always managing to avoid dying by a hairsbreadth. In Mort, however, Death is a major player, taking on an assistant by the name of [duh] Mort. This and the other Death novels are not as gothic as one might think at first. As an outsider, Death tries to understand the quirks and foibles of humanity, and only partially succeeds. Such deep philosophy is unusual in a humorous novel, but the Death books on the whole pull it off well.
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on July 22, 2001
This novel is really good. Having read the other 3 previous novels, I can say that this is rivals the Light Fantastic in terms of quality and characters. Some of the scenes weren't described so well(ie. I only discovered Mort's age a little bit too late in my opinion) and it's too short, doesn't cover ALL of the things that could've happened with the idea (Which I won't spoil it for you)
But other than that, a great Discworld novel, much better than Equal Rites (Which I was disapointed with)
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on March 3, 2001
Death is so cool! Of course, it's not all about Mort and love and stuff, but mostly because Mort makes a mistake in reality that he has to fix. And Death takes a vacation now that Mort's doing most of THE DUTY, as Death calls it. He goes to parties, gambles, gets drunk, and get a job at a food place. And there's a Rincewind cameo!
It's a funny book, but it's also very sweet.
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