Monday, 21 April 2014

Mort by Terry Pratchett

I've been reading Mort while I eat for the last week or so - it's just about the perfect level for that amount of attention. To the person I borrowed the book from, I promise I didn't get any food on it. I'm just trying to say something about Terry Pratchett. It's thoroughly enjoyable and light, and not particularly taxing. Perfect reading while eating.

This did make my experience of reading it rather choppy, though. While I enjoyed it, I didn't love it, and that might be as much a part of how I was reading as the book itself. Take that into consideration.

Death is looking for an apprentice. He picks Mort, who doesn't quite fit in with his family. He's too easily distracted, you see. Thinking big thoughts instead of getting stuff done. So when Death comes along to the apprentice's fair, Mort is ready to go with him. But being Death's apprentice isn't an easy task. Particularly when there's a beautiful princess next to have her thread cut....

Mort does a nice job of subverting narrative expectations. Mort is quite an intelligent young man, and less bumbling than well-meaning. And the adventure with the princess doesn't go quite the way we might have expected it to, given that set-up - and I think the ending we did get was much more satisfying.

Still, it does feel a little slight. I think, of all the Discworld books, I've responded most strongly to the Night Watch ones. The others I generally enjoy, but feel a little bit like something is lacking at the end. The story of Mort is definitely entertaining, but lacks a bit of that social commentary and bite that the Night Watch books have had. Or maybe it's later Pratchett vs. earlier? I don't know enough to know.

It is telling that I've already run out of things to say. This is fun, and it's light, and it gets me one more book closer to finishing the BBC's Big Read books. I'm glad I read it.

Read as part of the BBC Big Read


  1. For me Terry didn't hit his stride till Wyrd sisters, book 6. Mort was book 4 - I think he was still playing with how far he little he could say - trusting his reader to extrapolate the rest. The lack of social commentary is definitely due to this being one on his early works.

  2. Yes, Mort is very early. I enjoyed it a lot but then I like comedy about death, & Pratchett's DEATH is one of my all time favourite fictional characters.

    1. I didn't dislike it, I just wasn't grabbed by it. We'll see how I react to the rest. I haven't been sick in a while, though, which appears to be when I like Pratchett books the best. :)