Monday, March 23, 2015

Review of Mort by Terry Pratchett (Corgi, 1987)

Unsure what to do with his awkward, gangly child, Mort’s father takes him to the local village fair in the hope that he is offered an apprenticeship.  The last boy left, shortly before midnight a stranger arrives on a large stallion and offers Mort a post.  But being Death’s apprentice is not quite what Mort has in mind, especially when his new master seems distracted, his adopted daughter is distant, and his manservant standoffish.  After only a couple of mentoring trips, Mort is tasked with shepherding two souls into the afterlife.  But rather than simply witnessing Princess Keli’s death he intervenes, slaying her would-be assassin, altering fate and history.  It’s not the wisest of career moves, but rather than coming clean he persists with his folly.  

The recent passing of Terry Pratchett prompted me to scan along my shelf and half of his books to re-read one.  Mort was the most obvious given the topic is death and one of its two principle characters is Death.  Through a story that’s a kind of sorcerer’s apprentice for the Discworld, Pratchett approaches death, fate and history with his usual wit, imagination, invention and humanism.  The characterisation is excellent, especially Death and his mid-existence crisis.  Whilst the story is quite linear it’s difficult to fault its execution, being entirely captivating and it was a rare moment when I didn’t have a smile on my face.  In the tale Pratchett speculates that when one dies they get the afterlife they foretell, in which case I suspect he’s now playing the role of Mort and no doubt loving it.

1 comment:

TracyK said...

This is one I want to read soon, Rob. I have a copy of Reaper, but I want to read a couple of the earlier ones first.