I’m continuing on with my march through the Discworld novels, and after having realized that I had perhaps gone too far down one path without veering off to some others in my review of Maskerade I decided to go back to the beginning and pick another tack to start down. Luckily for me my friend Alison had already lent me Mort, the fourth book in the series, and the first of the Death centric books. I was excited, I really liked when Death made his appearance in the Witches books and thought surely a book chock full of Death’s witticisms would be right up my proverbial alley. Unfortunately for me, this one was funny than hysterical, and more cutesy than clever. Not really what I’ve come to expect from Pratchett’s work.
The story is built around Death taking on an apprentice, Mortimer. Mort for short. Not that anyone actually calls him by his name. With a bit of spare time on his hands, once Mort is up to speed, Death’s own search for what it means to be human begins. Those portions in the final two thirds of the book was very amusing and at times poignant, but it never felt like it had time to develop as the book raced to the end of its 240 pages.
What Pratchett does well he does very well. He absolutely understands how to bring teenage awkwardness across the page. I thought the book really hit its stride when dealing with Mort’s unrequited love of Keli and Ysabell’s growing fondness of Mort in the middle third. The build-up was slow and at times painful (as any teenage love should be) but the pay offs were mostly worth it. Ysabell’s sudden switch from being annoyed by Mort’s very presence to her fawning over Mort was done with little indication or reasoning, other than her seeing him in his element and honestly it left me feeling a little cheated.
But seriously, how bad could a book be that contains Death uttering the following line?
“I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT I COULD MURDER A CURRY.”