Book review: Mort by Terry Pratchett

May 26, 2012

Mort is a comic fantasy novel based in the Discworld – a flat world that rests on the back of four elephants who in turn stand on a giant turtle who is hurtling through space. It is one of many novels in the ‘Discworld’ series.

This particular novel tells the story of Mort, an innocent well-meaning country bumpkin1 who becomes an apprentice to Death. Death as in the Grim Reaper, the black robed skeleton with a scythe who collects the souls of the dead and sends them on their way.

What makes the Discworld novels stand apart is the sheer density of jokes. Almost every line in Mort has one. They range from a vendor gently applying a very hot fork to a plump woman’s bottom to Physics jokes (like the one about monarchy being transmitted by particles called kingons and queons (unless of course they collide with anti-particles called republicons).

Another thing about Pratchett’s books is that they are smart, very smart. I found myself marvelling at the intelligence and imagination poured into his books. They will appeal to people who see themselves as intelligent enough to appreciate the intellectual jokes (what does that say about myself? ;-)).

My only complaint is that Terry Pratchett talks entirely too much about light being slowed down by the magical field that surrounds the Discworld. He mentions it so many times that it becomes nauseating. It’s an interesting idea but the reader doesn’t need to be reminded of it every couple of chapters, especially when it has no relevance to the story.

This is a light and entertaining read that packs quite an intellectual wallop. If you’re thinking of starting the Discworld series I recommend this novel over The Colour of Magic which is the first Discworld book Pratchett wrote. Also, take a look at this great reading order guide. It divides the series into various ‘tracks’ so you don’t need to read the books in the order they were published.

1 Both of the other Discworld novels I read have an innocent bumpkin in them; Twoflower in The Colour of Magic and Carrot in Guards! Guards! Back

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