Mort (Discworld #4)

by Terry Pratchett

THAT’S MORTALS FOR YOU, Death continued. THEY’VE ONLY GOT A FEW YEARS IN THIS WORLD AND THEY SPEND THEM ALL IN MAKING THINGS COMPLICATED FOR THEMSELVES.

Young Mort has been recruited by Death, who realized sooner or later he’s going to want some time off and will need someone to fill in for him, even replace him. As the boy spends time learning about Discworld from a cosmic perspective and following Death around, he meets Death’s obnoxious daughter, falls in love with an impertinent princess, and constantly finds himself correcting everyone who calls him ‘boy’ instead of ‘Mort.’

Death finally orders the boy (Mort) out on his own to reap a few different souls, one of which is the princess, and all of which are disasters as the boy (Mort) isn’t remotely ready. As he bungles the job a rift in the universe is created and two separate, competing worlds move forward in parallel, inviting disastrous consequences. Despite the lad’s (Mort’s) good intentions, when Death returns from his holiday, there’s going to be trouble. But Death is determined to enjoy himself on his vacation, and while there are a lot of great moments the specter getting wasted in a bar is particularly hilarious.

I DON’T SEE THE POINT, the stranger said.
“Sorry?”
WHAT IS SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN?
“How many drinks have you had?”
FORTY-SEVEN.
“Just about anything, then.”

This book is funny. Like funny funny, and on nearly every page. The absurdities of the specific situation and of life in general are constantly examined and skewered, so if you want a long, somber look at death then this one isn’t for you. But that’s one of the main points of the work. We take ourselves so seriously in a world that doesn’t even consider us at all, and that in itself is just lunacy. The idea of immortality is also brought up a few times and generally blasted, as anyone’s who’s taken a good, long look at life won’t consider the idea of living forever a positive thing. Leave that for the young ones—they’ll learn.

Would eternity feel like a long time, or were all lives—from a personal viewpoint—entirely the same length?

In the end, Mort has a lot of knowledge and serious ideas cloaked in hilarity. It’s a fast read and not one that many are going to want to miss.

People don’t alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it.

4+

 

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