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Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.

Death is the Grim Reaper of the Discworld, a black-robed skeleton with a scythe who ushers souls into the next world. He is also fond of cats and endlessly baffled by humanity. Soon Death is yearning to experience what humanity really has to offer, but to do that, he'll need to hire some help.

It's an offer Mort can't refuse. As Death's apprentice he'll have free board, use of the company horse—and being dead isn't compulsory. It's a dream job—until Mort falls in love with Death's daughter, Ysabell, and discovers that your boss can be a killer on your love life…

243 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Terry Pratchett

614 books41.3k followers
Born Terence David John Pratchett, Sir Terry Pratchett sold his first story when he was thirteen, which earned him enough money to buy a second-hand typewriter. His first novel, a humorous fantasy entitled The Carpet People, appeared in 1971 from the publisher Colin Smythe.

Terry worked for many years as a journalist and press officer, writing in his spare time and publishing a number of novels, including his first Discworld novel, The Color of Magic, in 1983. In 1987, he turned to writing full time.

There are over 40 books in the Discworld series, of which four are written for children. The first of these, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal.

A non-Discworld book, Good Omens, his 1990 collaboration with Neil Gaiman, has been a longtime bestseller and was reissued in hardcover by William Morrow in early 2006 (it is also available as a mass market paperback - Harper Torch, 2006 - and trade paperback - Harper Paperbacks, 2006).

In 2008, Harper Children's published Terry's standalone non-Discworld YA novel, Nation. Terry published Snuff in October 2011.

Regarded as one of the most significant contemporary English-language satirists, Pratchett has won numerous literary awards, was named an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) “for services to literature” in 1998, and has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick in 1999, the University of Portsmouth in 2001, the University of Bath in 2003, the University of Bristol in 2004, Buckinghamshire New University in 2008, the University of Dublin in 2008, Bradford University in 2009, the University of Winchester in 2009, and The Open University in 2013 for his contribution to Public Service.

In Dec. of 2007, Pratchett disclosed that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. On 18 Feb, 2009, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.

He was awarded the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award in 2010.

Sir Terry Pratchett passed away on 12th March 2015.

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5 stars
105,937 (44%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,576 reviews
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
August 4, 2021
Literarily speaking, Sir Terry Pratchett is one of my best friends.

It’s as though I met Terry Pratchett at a party and we hit it off immediately. You like Monty Python, I LOVE Monty Python! Seinfeld, WHAT???, I’ve seen them all “Art Vandelay, nice to meet you.” No way! What about The Big Lebowski? “How’s the smut business, Jackie?” To which he replied, “I wouldn’t know, Dude.”


And so it was with me when I read my first Discworld novel, in this case Mort (#4 on the list). Discworld is Terry Pratchett’s hilarious fantasy universe which is medieval flat, balanced on the back’s of four great elephants and all riding on the back of a great cosmic turtle. Each of the stories all share the same universal laws and truths, have numerous recurring characters and all spring up Athena like from the head of great Zeus Pratchett.

Mort is an inquisitive, gangly lad, all elbows and knees, who becomes the apprentice to Death. Written a few years after On a Pale Horse, the similarity to Piers Anthony’s work is recognizable but that is where the familiarity ends.

Mort is told with wit and sterling British humor. Two parts Douglas Adams and One part Monty Python, but all fun.

** 2015 - Sir Terry died a few days ago and we are all the lesser at having lost him, but better at having known him at all. I am fortunate that I have so many more of his books to read and enjoy.

**2018 - I've read all the Discworld books now and love these even more now.

*** 2021 reread -

I need to reread these more frequently than seven years.

Pratchett's first novel to feature Death (though he appeared, I think, in the first three) we get to see his lodgings, and we meet Albert and Ysabell, and of course his pale horse Binky.

Pratchett describes Mort as an inquisitive, brave young man and I don't think I noticed his heroic qualities when I first read this. We also see Death as a little more complex than first imagined. The scene in the pub where he is talking to the bartender is classic.

Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,846 followers
May 31, 2020
It might be even harder to learn from DEATH than by death, but not that final.

What a setting, hard to say something without spoilering it, but the perfect orchestration and personalities of the 3 main protagonists make the humor and dynamic possible and I would like to know how long it took Pratchett to finetune the inner balance to establish the story twists.

Death, what would make more sense than to laugh about and together with the inevitable skinny buddy, but don´t dare to try to manipulate him and his work, oh no. Not just because asking for trouble with an interdimensional, almighty entity is a bit of a stupid idea and destined to end badly, but because of the stability of the universe and reality, congestion, overpopulation, or underutilization of earth, dungeon dimensions, heaven, or hell, and stuff related to his work.

But he has one fatal flaw:

The one metaphysical aspect is the natural science class highlight, the question how all works, what lies beyond 3 dimensions, when universes start and end, etc. and Pratchett uses these elements as plot vehicles, cliffhangers, and surprises, but doesn´t go the sci-fi route of getting cozier and more intimate with the science behind it.

Instead, the philosophy, character growth, and dynamic of the story are in the main focus and how death is permanently producing suspense, laughter, and a certain thrill, except for the ones truly badass (congratulations if you are not afraid of dying), is something so burned in the readers' mind that I can´t find a comparison, any other similar entity out of another literary universe that unites these features.

Imagine other apprenticeships with evil overlords, blood elves, too soft, romantic, and boring good vegan elves, orcs, mind parasites, gods and goddesses, aliens, zombies, whatever, the constellation is always funny, creepy, or just ridiculous. There are many funny fantasy genre novels out there and I don´t know how many pairings have already become reality, but it´s also a great mind game without any literature around it.

However, carpe diemality, don´t just start reading the Discworld novels beginning with the introduction of the one, the only, the ultimate, fashionable dubious, always mowready, as we in German speaking countries like to call him, Herr Tod (shame on us nasty sexists, I´ll add Fräulein Tod to make it look more emancipated, no wait, not sure if Fräulein is still acceptable and not belittling, Frau Tod is of course what I mean or Frau Todin instead, I just don´t know what is gender writing norm today, because politics changes it so often instead of improving the dysfunctional system enabling discrimination in the first place. Terrible German language https://www.goodreads.com/es/book/sho..., but keep quickly reading them to minimize the danger of meeting him before having read and reread all of these amazing works.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:

This one is added to all Pratchettian reviews:
The idea of the dissected motifs rocks, highlighting the main real world inspirational elements of fiction and satire is something usually done with so called higher literature, but a much more interesting field in readable literature, as it offers the joy of reading, subtle criticism, and feeling smart all together.
Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
264 reviews3,931 followers
April 25, 2022
Check out my new youtube channel where I show my instant reactions to reading fantasy books seconds after I finish the book.

Death has never been this much fun!

This book was a really enjoyable read for me, and while not quite as good as some of the other early Discworld books, it provides a wonderful foundation for one of the Discworld sub-series and should be a must read for any Discworld fan.

I'm constantly mystified by Terry Pratchett's style. On one hand he writes wonderful comedy that is unrivaled in the fantasy genre, but on the other he legitimately writes moving stories that are gripping and unique. The man is a literary genius.

This book is one of the first Discworld books that is legitimately, laugh out loud funny. The jokes aren't cheap, and they are so wonderful that you can't help but think about them days and weeks after reading it. I'm also shocked at how broadly appealing this humor is to people -- typically humor is funny to some and not funny to others, but it feels like the world can rally behind the fact that these books are funny for everyone.

I love the character of Death, and how he interacts with this entire world and his family. My one actual criticism is how little Death actually appears in this book, as the central story here is about someone else.

Don't skip on this Pratchett book!
Profile Image for Baba.
3,616 reviews985 followers
December 10, 2022
Death decides to hire a little helper, an assistant... Mort. Mort meets Death's 'daughter' and also his aide an ex-wizard. Death meanwhile begins to truly realise the limitations of his lifestyle and decides to maybe, consider… well... taking some time out and doing something else instead...hmmm, so who do you think he gets to run errands as 'Death'! We get to meet Rincewind, now a librarian, again and other people and places from the previous books in the series. Easily the best in the series so far for me. 5 out of 12, Two Star read.

2011 read
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,099 followers
August 14, 2017
Being one of the first and the latest of all the Pratchett reads, I'm really surprised just how much I loved this one. I'm upping the star count to a full five just because I think I liked Mort, the character, even better this time around.

DEATH on DISCWORLD. :) Seriously, there's nothing quite like it. Him. The personification. :) He meddles so much with humanity, tries to get drunk, and hires an apprentice. Not all in that order.

Death is the mewling cat at the party of life. :)

The story is a bit more interesting, I must say, than the ones immediately preceding it, and of all the books, I think it captures the essential spirit of all the ones to come after. High praise, no? I hope so. :)

Very funny stuff. :)
Profile Image for Paromjit.
2,706 reviews25k followers
January 6, 2022
Many years ago, pre-Goodreads, I remember coming home after being away to be confronted with a burst pipe, water coming through the living room ceiling and ruining many of my books, including my entire Discworld series. When the publisher recently made a number of the fantasy books in the Terry Pratchett series available, I just could not resist rereading some of them. The satire, wit and humour of this series might not be for everyone, but it is for me. Here the wonderful character of Death takes on a apprentice, Mort, satisfied with a position with a number of benefits, he makes a catalogue of errors in a story that includes Death's daughter, the horse Binky, princesses and wizards. This is a joy to reread, fun and hilarious, Pratchett's world building is stellar, and with such terrific characters. Thanks to the publisher.
Profile Image for Matthias.
107 reviews351 followers
March 17, 2016
This isn't an easy review to write. This has been my first encounter with the Discworld universe and the many writings of Terry Pratchett, and voicing my opinion on it makes me feel like a blundering fool stumbling into a world that was meant for his younger and perhaps wiser self, a world of which he has only caught a glimpse.

Let's start with kicking in an open door. 'Boy', uh, sorry, 'Mort' is a very funny novel. Death, being a wonderfully serious topic, becomes a great source of laughter and smiles in the hands of Sir Pratchett. The book contains the kind of humour that shows the common sense of absurdity and showcases the author's very refreshing look on things. I think for readers, young and old, this different and highly original perspective is something to be appreciated and praised. Comments that follow below are in no way intended to put "but"'s and "maybe it would have been better"'s alongside this praise. An author who is able to describe a voice by the amount of time it could keep milk fresh is above all that. He knew what he was doing and he did it extremely well.

That said, I don't think I'll be returning to the Discworld universe very soon. It felt as much too light a read. I intentionally picked the Discworld novel with the Death-theme, not because I'm a dark character but because I was half expecting some philosophical wisdoms holed up here and there. I guess there were some, but not as much as I had expected. There's not half a page that takes itself seriously, sometimes to such an extent that I was wondering why I should continue reading it. The plot is there but it's rather thin, so the jokes are what really drives this novel forward. It's strange really, I'm all for jokes, but I expect a bit more "flesh" in a book. I'd compare it to going to see a stand-up comedian specialized in one-liners. First of all you need a bit of warming up as a member of the audience, let go of a certain air of seriousness, set your mind ready for a laughing spree and go with the flow. I had the same need when reading this. The lightness of the book initially annoyed me, and it took me a couple of pages to just enjoy the humour of it. Which I did. But like with a stand-up comedy, an hour or two is enough. I had the same with this book, resulting in short bouts of reading pleasure, sandwiched between mild annoyance and mild boredom. Apparently there's only so much I can take when it comes to footnotes representing a stream of consciousness plummeting into the absurd, however pleasurable that plunge can be.

I'd definitely recommend giving the Discworld Universe a try if you haven't already, but do it sooner rather than later. I think a young reader's mind will appreciate it much more, even though there's something in there for all ages, which I'll try to show, in closing, with my favorite quotes of the book:

"Rather than drown in uncertainty it was best to surf right on top of it."

"There should be a word for the microscopic spark of hope that you dare not entertain in case the mere act of acknowledging it will cause it to vanish, like trying to look at a photon. You can only sidle up to it, looking past it, walking past it, waiting for it to get big enough to face the world."

These quotes don't accurately show the humour of the book, mind you. Death may have no feelings, no sense of justice and a rather grim visage, but he's bound to make you laugh!

Profile Image for Adrian.
570 reviews210 followers
March 2, 2019
This book was so good that if I knew the way to Sheepridge, I’d be heading there next Hogswatch Eve hoping to be chosen as DEATH’s next apprentice 😳

So how does one critique a Terry Pratchett (Sir) book to someone who has never read one, or in these reviews should we just be brief, succinct and to the point. ?

It was funny and good and I enjoyed it, 5 stars .

No, that doesn't do it justice, even if I have given it 5 stars. This book is laugh out loud, want to read the funny bit to someone (anyone) funny, it is witty, very witty, cleverly witty, it is deceptively simple, but wonderfully complex, an enigma, a dichotomy.

Oh ok it is bloody good and outrageously funny, just read it.

PS I think of the books so far (ok only 4, but I have years ago read more and remember them a little), anyway of the books I have read so far, DEATH has got to be my favourite, hmm or is it RIncewind , oh God or Granny Weatherwax. Oh bother 😂
Profile Image for William Gwynne.
376 reviews1,699 followers
March 26, 2023
BookTube channel with my awesome brother, Ed - The Brothers Gwynne
My personal BookTube channel - William Gwynne

“He was determined to discover the underlying logic behind the universe.
Which was going to be hard, because there wasn't one.”

Finally dived into Discworld. I have seen many say that a good starting point in this huge series is Mort, the first of the series 'Death' in the Discworld. And it seems that they were right. Thes was highly entertaining, humorous and engaging stuff.

Discworld is known as 'absurdist' fantasy, because it is crazy. The world this takes place literally sits on the back of a giant flying turtle.... yeah, that's pretty absurd. But it is great. I loved the humour, with it being witty and sharp, making me laugh out loud on many an occasion. But what elevates this read is the emotional drive, and the philosophical edge.

“He'd been wrong, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and it was a flamethrower.”

We follow a boy named Mort. He is a normal, mortal boy. Well, not totally normal. He doesn't feel like he fits in, so he is taken by his family to a fair to find him an apprenticeship. So, naturally, Death comes and takes him as an apprentice.

Whilst this has a fair amount of crazy situations that are amusing and engaging, there is also such a thought-provoking edge to it, discussing the nature of life and death, and making us as the reader think about our lives as we follow the story. Terry Pratchett brings these different elements together in such a natural and organic way that makes Mort as a book totally unique. I cannot wait to read more of Discworld!

4.5/5 STARS
Profile Image for Trish.
2,015 reviews3,433 followers
August 14, 2017
Introducing: DEATH

Aw, ain't that smile warming your heart? Or is that the adrenaline rush because you, too, just want to get away from him? Severely misunderstood guy, that fellow.
He's a beekeeper, a gardener, cat-lover, admittedly not very good with colours but his shades of black are very original! And he's active too! Never lazy, our protagonist, always riding around on his faithful mount, Binky.

In case anyone was wondering: the scythe is for us normal mortals, whereas royalty gets the deluxe deal and therefore the sword you see him carrying in the picture above.

So what is this old chap up to? Well, he's always looking out for the little guy (in this case it's a very tall and skinny boy). For in this 4th Discworld novel, that is the first to feature Death as a main character, Death takes on the afore-mentioned young lad as an apprentice. Mort (the lad in question) is an outsider since he always wants to help his family (farmers) but is very clumsy and good intentions only get you so far. After agreeing to the apprenticeship, Mort travels with Death to his domain and meets his servant, Albert, as well as his daughter, Ysabell (don't ask). After a while, he even gets sent to do 3 jobs on his own. Aaaaand you guessed it: that is where the trouble starts. Especially since Death decides to take a holiday shortly after (to do some fishing, dancing, gambling, drinking, and even tries a new profession). *lol*

A number of inhabitants are being met in various corners of the Discworld (there is even ) during this fantastic romp to set things right and we learn a ton while we're at it. Because Pratchett is not only impeccable in making us laugh, but a champion in using INTELLIGENT humour and using it to address serious topics of our world. In this case: mortality, justice/compassion, death in all kinds of incarnations (depending on the culture), but also - importantly - life and that existing doesn't necessarily equal LIVING (that we need to make it count)!

This was the very first Discworld novel I've ever read and even the German translation back then was fantastically funny. It became instantly dear to me, prompting me to immediately buy the English original and reading it once again, but I had almost forgotten just HOW GOOD this was. After this re-read it is clear that it shall remain one of my all-time favourite books.

Profile Image for Luffy (Oda's Version).
765 reviews757 followers
May 28, 2019
The ending surprised me and it was the one that I really wanted to happen. What can I say about Discworld that has never been said before. Nothing, but I need to tell you to read Mort.

Mort is a cataclysmic story of epic proportions. I thought Death(the Discworld character) was going to bite dust, you know? I really don't love every single book in the series. In fact I started and gave up reading Mort a couple of years ago.

So, why do you need to read Mort? Well, it teaches you how to thread a story of your own. Also, it's surprising and imaginative to boot. The Discworld books are polarizing. It won't hurt if you started your adventure with Mort. Terry Pratchett was an uneven genius.
Profile Image for Overhaul.
315 reviews699 followers
April 5, 2021
"Se había equivocado. Había una luz al final del túnel, y era un lanzallamas"

Cuarta novela de la saga que conforma el conocido Mundodisco, y la primera que da inicio la saga de la Muerte. Creo que el lo mejor que puedo decir es que me alegro muchísimo de haberme metido en la disparatada locura que es el Mundodisco. Y el mejor halago que puedo darle es que mientras lees y vas pasando las páginas, tienes una sonrisa en la cara. Y eso, es la magia de Sir Terry Pratchett.

Mort nos presenta una trama loca y disparatada, con una increíble imaginación por parte de Terry Pratchett. Y por supuesto el humor. Una historia sencilla pero que a su vez buena parte de ella me ha resultado impredecible. Logra equilibrar ese humor con la historia, tratando temas como por supuesto la propia muerte, la justicia, la vida. Lo que más me ha gustado y a su vez me ha llamado la atención de Pratchett es juntar ese humor y al mismo tiempo te hace reflexionar sobre lo que acaba de decir. Dejándote así grandes citas para pensar.

No existen los capítulos ni tiene prólogo o epílogo. Cuenta con notas a pie de página que la verdad me he divertido mucho leyéndolas. Espero que el resto de novelas de Mundodisco cuente con ellas. Para mí Pratchett tiene una narrativa fluida y cuidada que logra que rápidamente te metas en el Mundodisco. Sencilla y ágil, pero a su vez dejándote tantas verdades y reflexiones.

Mort es el primero en la saga de la muerte. Y hablando de este personaje. La muerte habla en mayúsculas un detalle que me gustó debido a como te presenta Pratchett que es la voz de la muerte pues las mayúsculas le vienen genial y tu imaginación hace el resto. Se nos explica el funcionamiento del Mundodisco. El proceso de la muerte. La grandiosa ciudad de Ankh-Morpork y su forma de democracia, conocida como, El Patricio. Aparecerán hechiceros. Se hablará de dioses, hasta se hablará de la velocidad de la luz en el Disco y más cosas.


Los personajes me han parecido interesantes y divertidos algunos con cierta profundidad ya sea en sus personalidades e ideas o en sus vidas. Por ejemplo el personaje de Mort un muchacho al cual le cambia la vida totalmente. La historia gira gran parte en torno a él. Me ha gustado bastante. Es inteligente y yo creo que se le subestima.

Sin duda Mundodisco me ha logrado atrapar. Terry Pratchett tiene una parte que te hace reflexionar sobre ciertas cosas. Buenas historias plagadas de imaginación. Todo cargado de su dosis de humor que hacen que ya de por si, su lectura merezca la pena. En resumen una desternillante locura. Añadir que como lectura es un soplo de aire fresco si estás leyendo una saga o una lectura grande. Ahora sí o sí tocara conocer a esas curiosas brujas y a la gran guardia nocturna.

"La lógica es maravillosa, pero a veces obtienes mejores resultados pensando"
Profile Image for Geek Furioso.
99 reviews3,195 followers
April 5, 2020
Mi primera incursión propiamente dicha al Mundodisco. Aunque admito que no me ha acabado de enganchar, he encontrado aquí cosas muy chulas, y me he reído a carcajadas en más de una ocasión. De momento tengo la voluntad de continuar. Seguiré con Guardias Guardias.
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
719 reviews1,113 followers
July 6, 2017
"There is no justice. There is only me."

Well this was flipping great!
My first step into Terry Pratchett's Discworld (I know right?!)
This one tells the story of a young man called Mort who becomes Death's apprentice, along with all of the tasks and responsibilities that come with it.
This world is so vivid and imaginative, I was completely transported into this weird and wonderful universe with all its characters, including wizards, princesses, Death's daughter and of course Mort and Death himself.
Naturally Mort is clumsy, and mistake-prone, he spends a good portion of the story attempting to fix his mistake of saving the life of a princess who was supposed to die, therefore knocking all reality out of sync. The story itself is simple to follow, what makes this book so incredible is the fantastic descriptions of the way this universe works and the different realities and places and people, which are so complex it's absolutely astounding! It seemed never ending. I didn't want to leave this world and I will definitely be returning soon!
Profile Image for Pavle.
423 reviews141 followers
July 23, 2017
Bez iznenadjenja: čitati Pračeta po prvi put je nalik na upoznavanje starog, dragog prijatelja. Prijateljstvo je već tu, veliko je i puno obećava, samo eto, igrom slučaja nijedan ni drugi niste o tome bili obavešteni.

p.s. izdanje koje imam je toliko divno da je teško gledati ga bez lekova za smirenje.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews41 followers
April 6, 2018
Mort (Discworld, #4; Death, #1), Terry Pratchett
Mort is a fantasy novel by British writer Terry Pratchett. Published in 1987, it is the fourth Discworld novel and the first to focus on the character Death, who only appeared as a side character in the previous novels. The title is the name of its main character and also a play on words: in French, mort means "death". The French language edition is titled Mortimer.
As a teenager, Mort has a personality and temperament that makes him unsuited to the family farming business. Mort's father Lezek takes him to a local hiring fair in the hope that Mort will land an apprenticeship; not only would this provide a job for his son, but it would also make his son's propensity for thinking into someone else's problem. Just before the last stroke of midnight, Death arrives and takes Mort on as an apprentice (though his father thinks he has been apprenticed to an undertaker). Death takes Mort to his domain, where he meets Death's elderly manservant Albert, and his adopted daughter Ysabell. Mort later accompanies Death as he travels to collect the soul of a king, who is due to be assassinated by the scheming Duke of Sto Helit. After Mort unsuccessfully tries to prevent the assassination, Death warns him that all deaths are predetermined, and that he cannot interfere with fate. ...
تاریخ نخستین خوانش: چهاردهم ماه می سال 2016 میلادی
عنوان: مجموعه جهان صفحه - کتاب 04 - مورت؛ نویسنده: تری پرتچت (پراچت)؛ مترجم: محمد حسینی مقدم؛ تهران، ویدا، 1394؛ در 281 ص؛ شابک: 9786002911261؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان انگلیسی قرن 20 م
ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Lena.
199 reviews91 followers
April 14, 2021
I've expected more from the plot, but the character of Death is amazing. He got more appearances here, than in previous books and tired out to be even cooler and more exciting.
Profile Image for Holly (Holly Hearts Books).
375 reviews3,084 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
April 24, 2020
I’m going to be real with you. I struggled through this and I feel so pressured to finish it because of the cult following it has, but I think that’s it for me.

While reading this, it hit me.. it reminds me so much of the classic book The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, which I HATE by the way. They have nothing to do with each other, the story isn’t even close to being similar but for some reason the writing and characters remind me of it which was the absolute worst part of Alice for me. The randomness of it is similar as well. Mort runs into an annoying new character every 3 pages.. just.. like.. Alice.

Anyways, with those aspects in the forefront of my mind, It became clearer and clearer to me that this wasn’t going to be a new favorite. I mean Death was interesting! But that is the only good thing I can honestly give.

dnf: page 80
Profile Image for Eon ♒Windrunner♒  .
435 reviews481 followers
January 20, 2016
Death is looking for an apprentice to eventually replace him and decides on a young man called Mort. During the course of his training Mort takes a fancy to a young lady. Unfortunately the young lady’s time is up. So that’s that. Or is it? You see, Mort is not so good at following rules…

This is the only Terry Pratchett book I have read so far and it was delightfully whimsical. Sign me up for more please.

Light dawned on Mort. “You are looking for an apprentice?” he said.
The eyesockets turned towards him, their actinic pinpoints flaring.
Death waved a bony hand. There was a wash of purple light, a sort of visible “pop,” and Lezek unfroze. Above his head the clockwork automatons got on with the job of proclaiming midnight, as Time was allowed to come creeping back.
Lezek blinked.
“Didn’t see you there for a minute,” he said. “Sorry—mind must have been elsewhere.”
“What was your job again?” said Lezek, talking to a black-robed skeleton without showing even a flicker of surprise.
“Ah,” said Lezek, “of course, sorry, should have guessed from the clothes. Very necessary work, very steady. Established business?”
“Good. Good. Never really thought of it as a job for Mort, you know, but it’s good work, good work, always very reliable. What’s your name?”
“Dad—” said Mort urgently.
“Can’t say I recognize the firm,” said Lezek. “Where are you based exactly?”
“That’s fair enough,” nodded Lezek. “Well, I—”
“Dad—” said Mort, pulling at his father’s coat.
Death laid a hand on Mort’s shoulder.
“But you’re Death,” said Mort. “You go around killing people!”
“Well, yes—” said Mort, doubtfully.
Mort had never heard the word “intrigued.” It was not in regular use in the family vocabulary. But a spark in his soul told him that here was something weird and fascinating and not entirely horrible, and that if he let this moment go he’d spend the rest of his life regretting it. And he remembered the humiliations of the day, and the long walk back home….
“Er,” he began, “I don’t have to die to get the job, do I?”
“And…the bones…?”
Mort breathed out again. It had been starting to prey on his mind.
“If Father says it’s all right,” he said.
They looked at Lezek, who was scratching his beard.
“How do you feel about this, Mort?” he said, with the brittle brightness of a fever victim. “It’s not everyone’s idea of an occupation. It’s not what I had in mind, I admit. But they do say that undertaking is an honored profession. It’s your choice.”
“Undertaking?” said Mort. Death nodded, and raised his finger to his lips in a conspiratorial gesture.
“It’s interesting,” said Mort slowly. “I think I’d like to try it.”
“Where did you say your business was?” said Lezek. “Is it far?”
“Ah,” said Lezek, “you get about a bit, then.” He looked puzzled, like a man struggling to remember something important, and then obviously gave up.
Profile Image for Toby.
836 reviews330 followers
November 7, 2022

With those simple words Terry Pratchett introduces the complicated fact that on The Disc Death is as much a person as anyone else, only more so.

The fourth Discworld novel is right up there with my favourites, the story of how Death came to take an apprentice and how one gangly, awkward young boy became a strong, confident man is filled with humour and tells the kind of coming of age tale other authors only dream of.

It may not be the best written or contain the most interesting observations of humanity from the entire series but there's a real charm to this early Discworld novel that makes it hard to notice any of the faults in any depth. Read for the first time in my early teens this is the book that is responsible for my love of the series and reading novels with more substance to them than John Grisham.

“People don't alter history any more than birds alter the sky, they just make brief patterns in it.”

Pratchett is still silly but here it is toned down, with less cheap shots and more wit combined with characters not caricatures making for the first of the great books about The Disc. The growth of Mort in to a man is handled very well and only needed pointing out one subtle time. Then there's the romantic subplots, the initially absurd Ysabel who evolves in to a driving force for the plot and of course Albert.

My experience of reading Albert this time was slightly surreal; having seen the recent British TV movie adaptations and watching David Jason play both Rincewind (in The Colour of Magic) and Albert (in Hogfather) I managed to conjure up an amalgamation of both characters in my mind and then they share some scenes together at Unseen University!

“Although the scythe isn't pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end of, say, a peasants' revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome.”

Of course this review wouldn't be complete without discussing Death, a fan favourite as a background character in other Discworld books it's fun to watch him stretch his legs a little, witness Pratchett pushing the character in interesting and imaginative directions and without a shadow of a doubt the best conversations involve the grinning skeleton with the sparkle in his eye.

If you're wondering where to start with the incredibly large body of work that makes up the Discworld then this is the one I suggest if you're past your early teens.
Profile Image for Jokoloyo.
449 reviews273 followers
July 22, 2015
I "made a mistake" in my life by reading later works of Discworld (DW) first. By the time I read earliest Discworld stories, the universe feels not fully developed.

Mort is the fourth DW novel, and I see the DW universe, the jokes, and the characters are better developed than the 3 earlier novels (but still not as sophisticated as DW later works). But, there are some good moments: the awkwardness of young people in this novel, and the Death's learning of life.

People including Mort as the first in Death series, and indeed Death has big role in this novel. For a note: Rincewind made an appearance in this novel. :)

Profile Image for Forrest.
Author 43 books735 followers
September 17, 2013
In a previous review of Pratchett's The Color of Magic, I speculated that I might have become jaded since high school. I noted that I enjoyed that book, but it was not as hilarious as I had remembered it, initially. There will be no such danger with Mort, meaning, I probably won't be re-reading it. Again, this one was funny, but not hilarious, and more cutesy than clever.

Still, it has its moments, the best of which, I thought, was the interchange between the Sun Emperor and his Grand Vizier, a game of wits, really, and a contest in the manipulation of societal niceties to one's lethal advantage. Death's own search for what it means to be human was very funny and almost poignant, though the lure of mortal banality was idealized with a bit too much treacle.

I will give Pratchett one thing, though: he understands teenage awkwardness. I thought the book really hit its stride when Mort's unrequited love of Keli and Ysabell's growing fondness of Mort lead to a few uncomfortable moments. Again, these themes are almost emotive enough to be compelling. But Ysabell's sudden switch from being annoyed by Mort's very presence to her fawning on Mort, with no real indication of why she changed, left me feeling just a little cheated.

I'll admit it - I like Pratchett best when he's off-subject. His little asides are what make this book enjoyable. The plot line is fairly flat, with big ideas that go unrealized. But it's the little ideas that I love and that make this a book worth reading, like valuable gems in a rather ordinary diadem. I'll search out another Discworld book, maybe two, looking for those same gems. But I can't say that I'm dazzleed by Discworld . . . yet.
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
811 reviews137 followers
November 10, 2021
Foremost, this book is hilarious. I mean, all of the Discworld books are very funny, in a very British way, but in Mort I found myself chuckling especially frequently at the dialogue. I wish I had the book in hand at the moment to quote something to support this assertion, but for now I hope you can take my word for it. I don't want to paraphrase from memory because I may not do it proper justice.

I appreciated that the character of Death settled down into the personality and cosmic role that runs throughout the rest of the Discworld series. In The Colour of Magic, Death was portrayed as slightly vindictive and vengeful, actively slaying out of pique and stalking Rincewind when it clearly was not his time to go. That shocked me on a recent re-read of the seminal Discworld book, because the Death that I knew and loved was as presented in Mort; merely a universal force tasked with ensuring balance.

The book overall, though, left a little something to be desired. The main plot, just didn't quite gel. It could have used a lot more characterization in places, particularly for Ysabell and Mort himself. There seemed to be something missing in the progression of Death's character as he started to enjoy the mortal world while his apprentice took care of some affairs. I think the book could have used another 100 pages and/or more time going through Pratchett's writing/revising process, which may not have been fully developed yet. This was the last book that Pratchett wrote while still working at his other job (as a press officer for the English Central Electricity Generating Board), which may account for the rough edges.

Still, it's fun, quintessentially Discworld, features a cameo from Rincewind (who, true to form, ), gives a peek at the life of another unkempt street-level wizard, makes increasing use of footnotes, and remains a must-read for any true Discworld fanatic.

Some Discworld tidbits that I noted while I read:
-The Abbot Lobsang... first mentioned on p. 76 in my Corgi paperback edition, at the point in the story when Mort takes an afternoon off. "Lobsang" is a name that Pratchett will use again, in Thief of Time and in his non-discworld The Long Earth series.
-At one point, Cutwell describes how gods gain power if they have more followers and die if no one believes in them. Pratchett will revisit this concept at great length later in Small Gods.
Profile Image for Melindam.
663 reviews293 followers
June 25, 2021
" ... Death must be the loneliest creature in the universe. In the great party of Creation, he was always in the kitchen.”

“Behind him the Master of Ceremonies cleared his throat. His eyes took on a distant, glazed look.

"The Stealer of Souls," he said in the faraway voice of one whose ears aren't hearing what his mouth is saying, “Defeater of Empires, Swallower of Oceans, Thief of Years, The Ultimate Reality, Harvester of Mankind, the—"


Profile Image for Elena.
124 reviews996 followers
January 3, 2019
Primera entrega de la subsaga de la Muerte. En esta historia la Muerte, un poco cansada de su trabajo y ansiosa por experimentar cosas nuevas, se busca un aprendiz: Mort, un muchacho (¡muchacho no! ¡Mort!) que deberá aprender en sus propias carnes la responsabilidad de su nuevo oficio. Siempre con su toque de humor característico, Terry Pratchett hace reflexionar y filosofar sobre muchos temas. Me ha gustado muchísimo, creo que va a convertirse en una de mis sagas preferidas de Mundodisco.
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
677 reviews304 followers
July 4, 2022
-Creo que la tristeza, amo. Y ahora…

Este fue el primer libro que léí de Terry Prachett y me adentré por completo en Mundodisco. La verdad es que en su momento fue una agradable lectura y conocí a La Muerte, uno de los personajes más peculiares que puedes encontrar en este mundo y la verdad es que no me defraudó. A partir de entonces seguí leyendo otra de sus obras y descubriendo la maravillosa pluma de este señor.

“- ¿No se darán cuenta de que aquí arriba hay un caballo? -inquirió mientras se dirigían por la escalera.
-No. Sería imposible que subiera por la escalera- respondió Mort.
-Ah. Ya entiendo. La gente no quiere ver aquello cuya existencia resulta imposible.

Ahora que he leído unos cuantos más de este autor y por muy entrañable que me parezca este personaje tengo que decir que no es mi saga favorita. Tienes sus golpes de gracia, sobremodo su forma peculiar de ver el mundo, pero, ahora mismo prefiero la saga de las brujas.


Asimismo, siento que debería haber hecho la relectura en otro momento porque no lo he disfrutado tanto como me gustaría, pero bueno, no pasa nada no es el fin del mundo.

-Supongo que se llama felicidad”.
Profile Image for Thibault Busschots.
Author 3 books78 followers
April 18, 2023
Mort is a sixteen year old boy who very much likes to think about things, rather than actually doing anything. His father doesn’t know what to do with him and takes him to a hiring fair, hoping that someone will see some potential in Mort.

Death is in need of a break, but there’s no one who can cover for him at work. When he sees the kid nobody else wants, he thinks he’s found the ideal candidate to help him. Because Death’s job is also one nobody else wants to do.

Death rushes through his apprentice’s training and quickly leaves to take a much-needed break, forcing Mort to take over the family business. Now the very important job of escorting the dead to the afterlife falls entirely on the shoulders of a young boy who doesn’t have a clue about what he’s supposed to do. What could possibly go wrong?

This is the first really good book in the Discworld series. You can tell how much Terry Pratchett has grown as a writer here, compared to his previous books. This one actually has a decent plot. The comedy doesn’t overshadow the rest of the story. And the themes the story tackles are slowly starting to get more serious and philosophical.

That said, there’s still traces of early Pratchett to be found here. The comedy can still sometimes lead the plot instead of the other way around. This is why the story gets a bit complicated and messy near the end. But this is where the foundations of the Discworld series are firmly established. This is where the series slowly starts to move away from the parody of the fantasy genre it was in the first couple of books. And that’s a very crucial turning point if you look at the Discworld series in general.

This is not a perfect book. But it’s a very enjoyable one. If you’ve never read anything out of the Discworld series, this one is a pretty good book to start with.
Profile Image for Audrey.
1,073 reviews165 followers
March 29, 2018
I loved this one! I think Death is automatically a favorite character in the Discworld world, and he finally gets his own book. He picks up an apprentice (Mort) to help with the soul-collecting business and takes advantage of the opportunity to try out some popular human pasttimes, such as drinking, gambling, partying, and job hunting. Meanwhile, Mort sort of kind of accidentally-maybe seriously disturbs the fabric of reality.

There are so many funny scenes and lines. The story just flew by. I loved all the characters. Rincewind makes a brief appearance near the end.

Here are some funny bits:

He felt as if he had been shipwrecked on the Titanic, but in the nick of time had been rescued. By the Lusitania.

“It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever,” he said. “Have you thought of going into teaching?”

Death was standing behind a lectern, poring over a map. He looked at Mort as if he wasn’t entirely there.
“No, sir,” said Mort.
“Was there?”
Profile Image for Calista.
4,061 reviews31.3k followers
March 12, 2022
I love this book. This is my favorite Discworld book so far. I have read them in order. I like Rincewind and I like the Witches. I love that old characters come into the current story he's telling, but he sticks with the point of view book. Rincewind does who up in this story and Granny Weatherwax is mentioned. I love that.

Death is one of my favorite characters ever in fiction. Death is the best. I also really love Mort. This was a fantastic book. I've been busy and couldn't read as much as I wanted as fast as I wanted, but this book kept me engaged.

I simply love the mastery and genius that is Terry Pratchett. He describes some very complex ideas in a way that is lighthearted and fun. It's easy to understand and easy to miss that he just described something very complex. Terry is truly a genius and this series is amazing. I can't believe the layers of complexity over a good satirical story. It would be easy to miss just how complex and amazing this writing is.

Mort is an Apprentice and like all apprentices, they have to mess some things up and it gets the story really rolling. I enjoy the ending very much. Discworld is my cup of tea. I can't wait to read more Death books.
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