Mort  - Terry Pratchett I heard many praises of this book here on GR, and the book didn’t disappoint me. Although it was my first Terry Pratchett, it won’t be the last.
What is this book about? Ah, here comes the hard part. Whatever definition I come up with, this little novel is more. Is it about a simple country lad Mort becoming an apprentice to Death, and how the experience changed him? Yes, certainly, but not only that. Is it about Death longing to understand human emotions? Yes, sure, but that is just one small aspect of this tale. Is it about the practical impossibility to change history? Maybe, but again, the story digs deeper than that. Is it about the lack of justice in the universe? Well – yes and no.
Part joke and part philosophy, the book simultaneously touched me profoundly and tickled my laughing buds. The absurdity quotient is pretty high, inspiring intermittent burst of surprised laughter, especially at Death’s irreverent opinions or Mort’s unbiased ones.
Below is a fragment of Death’s dialog with a random guy at a party. Everybody is drunk and dancing, while Death is trying to figure out what is fun. (Death is talking in all capitals throughout the narrative.)
FUN.
‘That’s right. Dada, dada, da – kick!’ there was an audible pause.
WHO IS THIS FUN?
‘No, fun isn’t anybody, fun is what you have.’
WE ARE HAVING FUN?
‘I thought I was,’ said his lordship uncertainly. The voice by his ear was vaguely worrying him; it appeared to be arriving directly into his brain.
WHAT IS THIS FUN?
‘This is!’
TO KICK VIGOROUSLY IS FUN?
‘Well, part of the fun. Kick!’
TO HEAR LOUD MUSIC IN HOT ROOM IS FUN?
‘Possibly.’
HOW IS THIS FUN MANIFESTS?
‘Well, it – look, either you’re having fun or you’re not, you don’t have to ask me, you just know, all right?...’
Sadly, Death doesn’t know. His pensive puzzlement could’ve been worthy of an anecdote, if it wasn’t so piercingly doleful.
The writer’s descriptions are often on the pessimistic side too, although they are original and amazingly vivid.
The Ramtops are full of deep valleys and unexpected crags and considerably more geography than they know what to do with.
You can just envision this scenery with too much geography, although I’m sure everyone will have a different picture in their minds.
On the whole, it was a delightful read, funny and fast. I giggled and smiled a lot. So why didn’t I give this book 5 stars? Because I think the characters are not exactly fleshed out. They are more personifications of the writer’s ideas, and he does have plenty, than real people with their pains, dreams, and pleasures. But despite this flaw, I’d definitely recommend this book to any fantasy fan … or philosophy buff.