Written By: Terry Pratchett

Published By: HarperTorch

Reviewed by Frank L. Ocasio


            Do you enjoy fantasy novels?

            Do you enjoy laughing?

            If you just answered, "Yes," twice, you've probably read Terry Pratchett.

             But if you answered "Yes," twice but then, just now answered, "Who?" there will be someone along shortly to slap you in the mush because you should've already read this novel and tons of his other works. And you should be reading this review anyway just because you love Terry Pratchett.

            Pratchett's parodies make hilarious mockeries of the typical fantasy fair with such devotion that entire novels will be plagued by purposeful misspellings--with such abandon that things of majesty in other fantasy novels will be utterly ridiculous jokes in Pratchett's work. For example, dragons in Pratchett's novels have dismal intelligence to the point that they blow themselves up as a defense mechanism against threats, like other dragons--even ones that are snarling at them on the other side of a mirror. So if you're tired of reading about noble kings and are ready to replace them with, perhaps, rat-eating dwarves (as well you should), you need the recklessness of Terry Pratchett.

            In Mort, that recklessness focuses on Death (an anthropomorphic personification who appears in many of Pratchett's other titles [and who is, indeed, the very one and only]). We follow Mort, however, a young boy who accepts a position as Death's apprentice. An apprenticeship that Mort, who's a pretty gangly, all-elbows affair, is destined to destroy, if first impressions serve you right. Who will try to help him along the way of said destruction, however? Why, a dead but alive (not to be confused with undead) princess, a young slob of a wizard, and Death's daughter Ysabell, of course.

            Now, although Mort isn't the funniest of Pratchett's books, it's still a good time. Spanning a mere 243 pages, it's chock full of humor and has altogether clever writing you won't get anywhere else (mainly because Pratchett rushes into originality with no regard for boundaries [like that dragons shouldn't explode]). And trust me; even if ideas sound too ridiculous or obvious (i.e. Death having an existential crisis, or Mort ruining his apprenticeship), Pratchett handles them in a way that makes you believe them, feel them, and finally, laugh a good, thoroughly developed laugh at them. And really, not just any Prat can do that.

            Will you laugh your head off like you would with one of Pratchett's other books?  Not particularly, but you will laugh another body part (a less important one) off to be sure. Will you suddenly be struck with awe by the conclusion of Mort like you would with one of Pratchett's other books? No, but you'll enjoy yourself, you'll enjoy the characters, and at 243 pages, even if you somehow don't enjoy Mort at all (in which case, you should really keep an eye out for that whole natural selection, for your sake), you shouldn't be too spent on the loss of the weekend it should take you to read this novel.

One more thing before I quit: Considering that this review was really just a heart-felt and shameless advertisement for Terry Pratchett, I should add that if you decide against picking up Mort, you really can start anywhere else among Pratchett's Discworld novels and be pleased with what you find (I started with Men At Arms). If you're all about chronology and order, however, and not at all about confusion and being overwhelmed, then I'll spare you the drama of discovering the many racks of Terry Pratchet's novels unprepared--The Color of Magic is the first novel of Discworld.


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