on 25 May 2000
The concept of Death needing an apprentice captures the imagination from the very start of this book.The fact He likes cats,enjoys curries and His horse is called Binky leaves you doubting all you have been brought up to believe. His choice of a gangely, knocked-kneed youth named Mort, presents us with our unlikely hero whose adventures unfold like a comedy of errors but, as in all good adventures, the hero wins through in the end. Terry Pratchett takes us on yet another magical journey of character descriptions,colourful places and wierd happenings(you can almost taste the scumble). Long may he write.
on 17 January 2005
This re-release of Pratchett's Mort shows us why indeed the Discworld has become one of Britain's best loved series.
Mort is the first book where Pratchett decides to show the reader an up close and personal view of Death, one of the more mysterious entities of the Disc. And how well he does it. The potrait of Death Pratchett paints is not that of the spectre of all evil but instead a rather eccentric gentleman who has seen rather too much of life. Ths is Pratchett does with some excellent wit: for example Death's horse is named Binky.
The story itself is very well done, concentrating on Death and his new apprentice Mort. Mort cannot bring himself to do Death's job out of compassion and so ends up letting a dead princess live on.
The masterpiece of this novel is the character of Death. Pratchett turns religious convention on its head, making Death far from evil. Indeed he actually makes you feel horribly sorry for Death and the reader will be moved emotionally by Pratchett's clever but subtle way of showing the actuality behind the myth.
The reason I have not given this the 5 stars it deserves is because of its audio book status. While I enjoy audio books for when I am relaxing, I cannot give it 4 stars because a great deal has been abrigded from it - many of the sequences deemed unessential to the plot have been cut which is disappointing. However Tony Robinson does an excellent job as usual of narrating, giving all of the jokes a cynical edge which only enriches their comic value.
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.
"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.
on 22 February 1999
Death takes an apprentice and decides to take a break and enjoy himself for a while. Meanwhile, his apprentice, Mort (short for Mortimer but everyone calls him Boy) is busy screwing up the nature of reality by falling in love with one of his intended victims. History tries to reassert itself and everything gets complicated. Deaths granddaughter (Family not having much to do with genetics) helps out, as does Albert, the most powerful wizard ever, but now Deaths servant and general food fryer. Mort is a good story, well told and hilarious in parts. It would be a brilliant book for anyone else to have written, but I didn't think it was up there with Pratchetts best-still well worth buying, and re-reading several times though.
on 25 May 2000
I love the artwork, but it can be quite confusing, especially if you haven't read the book - but since there's really no reason to buy this unless you're a pratchett fan (if you're not already, dive in - good books to start with are Wyrd Sisters and Guards! Guards!) there's a pretty slim chance of you not having read the book.
Did anyone else hear about the proposed film version? The american film company wrote back to Pratchett asking if they could remove Death, because "The american public aren't ready for a kind sympathetic character in the Grim Reaper". This got a reply of "have you actually read the book?". Bear in mind that this was less than 2 years before the 2nd Bill&Ted Movie
on 19 July 2000
This was the first Terry Pratchett book I read and it had me hooked! It's definately the best, and when I recommend Pratchett to people, this is the book I tell them to read. Death is my favorite character (just beating the luggage!) and he is at his best in Mort.
on 28 December 2006
i bought this book recently after owning only two previous discworld novels, Thud! and Maskerade. whilst never having read them before as they weren't the start of the series.
i picked mort up as i read online that it is the start of the death series and it isn't nessecary to read any of the other books before it.
was i ever glad the book is hillarious i never thought i'd laugh at a figure that represents death and such but how can a 7 foot skeleton in black robes with a huge scythe doing the conga and eating curries not tickle your funny bones ;)
great read and i can't wait to get the next in the death series
on 14 June 2016
A re-read from yonks ago and still as good and original as it was first time around. Fantasy characters firmly grounded in reality - even Death comes across as larger-than-life - with a constancy of dialogue and descriptors which is unfortunately missing from some of the last of the Disc-World series. Plot is pacey and entertaining, insights and asides so much deeper and more accurate than those coming from less entertaining thinkers. A masterpiece from a great immortal.
This fourth book in the Discworld series is the first to achieve truly classic status, in my opinion. Its predecessors were great reads, but Mort is a real riot. The skeleton of the plot has a few cracked bones and seems to be missing whatever connects the setup bone with the conclusion bone, but the humor is more than a saving grace for the awkward ending. Poor Mort is a gangly, clumsy lad seemingly made out of all knees; his father is fond of him but decides to apprentice him to someone else. That someone else turns out to be Death himself (although the father sees him as an undertaker). Mort is whisked off to Death's abode to be trained as Death's apprentice. On his first solo mission, he rips a big hole in the fabric of time by saving a princess from assassination. Death is off trying to experience living, so Mort attempts to make things right with the help of Death's adopted daughter Ysabell (who has been sixteen for thirty five years already), the young wizard Cutwell, the princess, and--with great reluctance--Death's manservant Albert.
This is a riotously funny novel. I can truly say that Death has never been funnier. Being the reaper of souls for untold years does wear a guy down, and Death goes out into the real world to try and discover what life is all about. We find him dancing in a kind of conga line at a party for the Patrician, asking the guy in front of him why dancing around and kicking things over is fun; we see him getting boozed up at a bar and telling his troubles to the bartender, we find him seeking employment and dealing with a normal human customer, and we ultimately find him happily serving as the cook at Harga's House of Ribs. His questions and comments about human life are simple yet complex, and they basically mimic the same kinds of questions we all ask about the purpose of our time on earth. I personally found the funniest scene to be one in which Death takes Mort to a restaurant just after hiring him and tries to figure out why on earth there is a cherry on a stick in his drink--as he keeps returning to this mental conundrum, the scene just gets funnier and funnier.
To some degree, this novel is a bit simplistic compared to later Pratchett writings, but it is a quick, enjoyable read guaranteed to make you laugh out loud at least once. We get a glimpse of some new vistas of the Discworld, and more importantly we gain great understanding and familiarity with Death, his abode, and his way of non-life. The wizard Cutwell is a young, beardless wizard who keeps finding his devotion to wizardry (especially the whole bachelorhood requirement) tested by the beguiling femininity of the princess--his temptation-forced words and actions provide another great source of humor in the book. The cast of important characters if fairly slim in number, but we do meet up with our old friends Rincewind and the librarian momentarily and learn a little more about Unseen University. The ending definitely could have been better, and that is the main weakness of this particular novel. Other Discworld novels will capture your imagination much more forcibly than this one, but few will make you laugh as hard as this one does.