15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
DEATH Takes a Holiday!,
This review is from: Mort: (Discworld Novel 4) (Discworld Novels) (Paperback)
When we mere male mortals reach a certain age we sometimes, aware that we are closer to our future death than our past birth, start to act up. We trade the 1981 Min in for a sports car, quit our old job to write a great novel, and have even been known to trade in our wives for a younger, newer model. It's known on Earth as a mid-life crisis. But on Discworld, and in the hands of the master Terry Pratchett, a banal mid-life crisis is turned into another one of his hilarious and thought filled romps. Through Pratchett's hilariously skewed prism this crisis is not being experienced by a mortal but rather by the harbinger of death, the aptly named DEATH. What we have is a mid-death crisis. Death may, like an ever-rolling stream, bear all its sons away but DEATH seems more than a bit tired of doing all the bearing away.
Terry Pratchett's Mort tells a rather simple tale. DEATH is looking for an apprentice. Young Mortimer, one of life's simple trusting souls is a young man with little career prospects. He is ungainly and spends a bit too much time thinking random thoughts. Mort's dad and relatives find him to be a well-intentioned but generally useless young man. Dad has been told that becoming an apprentice will get Mort off his hands and teach him a trade. So off to town they go for `apprentice day' in the market square. As luck would have it, DEATH arrives and takes Mort on as his apprentice.
Mort develops in the expected Pratchett manner. The relationship between Mort and DEATH, and the chores Mort performs to learn his trade, seem very similar to that in the movie Karate Kid. Shoveling horse poop is not immediately relevant to learning how to become the messenger of death yet Mort takes to his tasks well. Mort seems to enjoy living at DEATH's house and enjoys the food prepared by Albert, who may not be quite what he seems. He doesn't seem to get along to well with DEATH's daughter, Ysabell but that again may not be quite what it seems.
Within no time DEATH is entrusting Mort with more responsibility while he experiments with drinking, dancing, and a stint as the best short order cook in Ankh-Morpork. Meanwhile, Mort, left to his own devices makes a mess of things in short order. Specifically, Mort falls for the heavenly charms of a Princess and fails to bring her over to the next world. This of course causes no end of confusion as the natural order of things on Discworld has been greatly disturbed.
As with most Discworld books, events proceed at a furious pace followed by a conclusion that, like death itself, is inevitable. For any Pratchett fan, of which I am one, the joy is mostly in the journey and not in getting to the conclusion. IN fact, generally I have so much fun I don't want the books to end. Along the way we are treated to the usual array of cultural references and little jokes. When Albert mutters "s-odomy non sapiens" under his breath Mort asks what that means to which Albert replies "buggered if I know." When DEATH notes he is closing out a bar, alone, at a quarter to three, Pratchett tracks the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's old "One for My Baby". Funny stuff indeed.
Last, this is a stand-alone Discworld book. Although some recurring characters make cameo appearances the reader does not really need to be overly familiar with any of the other Discworld books to enjoy Mort. Mort was a pleasure to read.