In my first post on Indulgent Readers, I wrote my aims for the year and promised a book review of Mort by Terry Pratchett and I am back to do so (see this accoutabilty idea is already working!). I had read Mort before but it was the first time I had done so through critical eyes. I enjoyed the book, possibly just as much if not more than my first read through.
With a lot of Terry Pratchett books, you can read them time and time again and still find new things to laugh at. Or rediscover old jokes which you still find amusing. Mort is the fourth book of the Discworld series and the first to concentrate on the character Death. The premise of the book is that Death decides that he needs a human apprentice, and the story unravels from there. The book explores predestination and the human condition with a generous sprinkling of humour.
The plot is interesting and well thought out and there are no sections of the book which are extraneous to the plot. The narration is consistent and while the book is written in third person it jumps from following one character to another. This writing device also allows the plot to unravel for each character in a way which is often reflected in film or television, it can be a little jaring if you are not used to this style of writing but you get used to it quickly. The further through the book you get the more you want to reach the end to find out what happens and the pace of the book reflects this.
The characters are well developed and relatable. There are parts of Princess Keli’s character which are a little clichéd however over the course of the plot she matures and due to this character development she stops being the cliché and becomes a strong leader. My favourite character in the Discworld series is Death, so while my opinion my be biased I cannot help but empathise with the character. It is understandable that humans do not want to be around him (especailly if you have had a bit of a sniffle recently). Death is frustrated by the limitations of his existence. When I am completely honest with myself I also occasionally feel this way (and I hope that is is not just me). As the story continues Death starts losing parts of himself and wishes he could be someone else which everyone in the world will have done at some point. Most likely with the same outcome, slipping back to your old life.
As the book is one of the first in the series I was expecting there to be a little more world building. I am glad that there wasn’t, what world building there is well distributed within the plot and the descriptions all fit in well with the narration. The only description which I found a little jarring was when Mort is in Ankh-Morpork for the first time, then again Ankh-Morpork is quite a jarring place.
This book helped me to consider the idea of predestination and if everything is predestined can it ever be changed? I had never really considered the possibility of predestination before and I am not entirely certain if it does exist or not but this book has certainly given me food for thought.
The humour used is very dry and sarcastic, which certainly appeals to me, and despite the fact that this is not my first time reading I still found new parts which amused me (there was even one part that I ‘sang’ in my head rather than spoke… first time I noticed that, it also took me another half a page of reading to realise why..)
The book is a comedic fantasy is suitable for anyone over twelve to read, though there are a number of misquotes and jokes which you may only understand as you age (it took me a few years before I even recognised one of the jokes…). Before I met my partner I had not read any of Terry Pratchett and he and his family all love Terry Pratchett and over the length of our relationship I have slowly started to love the series.
If you have never read a Discworld novel before then please be aware that the official start of the series (The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic) is not the way that the rest are written so if you found the first one or two difficult the writing does change significantly.
I am going to give Mort a 4 star rating I thorougly enjoyed the book but I was able to do other things without wishing I was still reading.
Have you read Mort? Let me know what you thought in the comments.