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Mort (Discworld Series #4)

Mort (Discworld Series #4)

4.5 120
by Terry Pratchett, Victor Gollancz

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Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestseller in England, where they have catapulted him into the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead


Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent novels are consistent number one bestseller in England, where they have catapulted him into the highest echelons of parody next to Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.

In this Discworld installment, Death comes to Mort with an offer he can't refuse -- especially since being, well, dead isn't compulsory.As Death's apprentice, he'll have free board and lodging, use of the company horse, and he won't need time off for family funerals. The position is everything Mort thought he'd ever wanted, until he discovers that this perfect job can be a killer on his love life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 • The first seven Discworld titles are being reissued with stunning new covers, publication coincides with 21 years of Discworld anniversary and the hardback publication of The Celebrated Discworld Almanak and Going Postal.

 • "Like Jonathan Swift, Pratchett uses his other world to hold up a distorting mirror to our own, and like Swift he is a satirist of enormous talent... incredibly funny... compulsively readable." --The Times

 • "His spectacular inventiveness makes the Discworld series one of the perennial joys of modern fiction." --Mail on Sunday

 • "The great Terry Pratchett, whose wit is metaphysical, who creates an energetic and lively secondary world, who has a multifarious genius for strong parody... who deals with death with startling originality. Who writes amazing sentences." --A.S. Byatt, New York Times

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Discworld Series
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

This is the bright candlelit room where the life-timers are stored — shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past. The accumulated hiss of the falling grains makes the room roar like the sea.

This is the owner of the room, stalking through it with a preoccupied air. His name is Death.

But not any Death. This is the Death whose particular sphere of operations is, well, not a sphere at all, but the Discworld, which is flat and rides on the back of four giant elephants who stand on. the shell of the enormous star turtle Great A'Tuin, and which is bounded by a waterfall that cascades endlessly into space.

Scientists have calculated that the chance of anything so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Death clicks across the black and white tiled floor on toes of bone, muttering inside his cowl as his skeletal fingers count along the rows of busy hourglasses.

Finally he finds one that seems to satisfy him, lifts carefully from its shelf and carries it across to the nearest candle He holds it so that the light glints off it, and stares at the little point of reflected brilliance.

The steady gaze from those twinkling eye sockets encompasses the world turtle, sculling through the deeps of space, carapace scarred by comets and pitted by meteors. One day even Great A'Tuin will die, Death knows; now, that would be a challenge.

But the focus of his gaze dives onwards towards the bluegreen magnificence of the Disc itself,turning slowly under its tiny orbiting sun.

Now it curves away towards the great mountain range called the Ramtops. The Ramtops are full of deep valleys and unexpected crags and considerably more geography than they know what to do with. They have their own peculiar weather, full of shrapnel rain and whiplash winds and permanent thunderstorms. Some people say it's all because the Ramtops are the home of old, wild magic. Mind you, some people will say anything.

Death blinks, adjusts for depth of vision. Now he sees the grassy country on the turnwise slopes of the mountains.

Now he sees a particular hillside.

Now he sees a field.

Now he sees a boy, running.

Now he watches.

Now, in a voice like lead slabs being dropped on granite, he says: Yes.

There was no doubt that there was something magical in the soil of that hilly, broken area which — because of the strange tint that it gave to the local flora — was known as the octarine grass country. For example, it was one of the few places on the Disc where plants produced reannual varieties.

Reannuals are plants that grow backwards in time. You sow the seed this year and they grow last year.

Mort's family specialized in distilling the wine from reannual grapes. These were very powerful and much sought after by fortune-tellers, since of course they enabled them to see the future. The only snag was that you got the hangover the morning before, and had to drink a lot to get over it.

Reannual growers tended to be big, serious men, much given to introspection and close examination of the calendar. A fanner who neglects to sow ordinary seeds only loses the crop, whereas anyone who forgets to sow seeds of a crop that has already been harvested twelve months before risks disturbing the entire fabric of causality, not to mention acute embarrassment.

It was also acutely embarrassing to Mort's family that the youngest son was not at all serious and had about the same talent for horticulture that you would find in a dead starfish. It wasn't that he was unhelpful, but he had the kind of vague, cheerful helpfulness that serious men soon learn to dread. There was something infectious, possibly even fatal, about it. He was tall, red-haired and freckled, with the sort of body that seems to be only marginally under its owner's control; it appeared to have been built out of knees.

On this particular day it was hurtling across the high fields, waving its hands and yelling.

Mort's father and uncle watched it disconsolately from the stone wall.

"What I don't understand:' said father Lezek, "is that the birds don't even fly away. I'd fly away, if I saw it coming towards me.'

"Ah. The human body's a wonderful thing. I mean, his legs go all over the place but there's a fair turn of speed there.

Mort reached the end of a furrow An overfull woodpigeon lurched slowly out of his way.

"His heart's in the right place, mind:' said Lezek, carefully.

"Ah. 'Course, 'tis the rest of him that isn't."

"He's clean about the house. Doesn't eat much," said Lezek.

"No, I can see that.'

Lezek looked sideways at his brother, who was staring fixedly at the sky.

"I did hear you'd got a place going up at your fan% Hamesh," he said.

"Ah. Got an apprentice in, didn't IT'

"Ah," said Lezek gloomily, "when was that, then?"

"Yesterday," said his brother, lying with rattlesnake speed. "All signed and sealed. Sorry. Look, I got nothing against young Mort, see, he's as nice a boy as you could wish to meet, it's just that —"

"I know, I know," said Lezek. "He couldn't find his arse with both hands."

They stared at the distant figure. It had fallen over. Some pigeons had waddled over to inspect it.

"He's not stupid, mind," said Hamesh. "Not what you'dcall stupid ."

"There's a brain there all right:' Lezek conceded. "Sometimes he starts thinking so hard you has to hit him round the head to get his attention. His granny taught him to read, see. I reckon it overheated his mind...

Meet the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett, OBE, was the author of more than 70 books, including the internationally bestselling Discworld series of novels. His books have been adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal. In January 2009, Pratchett was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in recognition of his services to literature. Sir Terry, who lived in England, died in March 2015 at the age of 66.

Brief Biography

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1948
Place of Birth:
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England
Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

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Mort 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 120 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mort is, quite simply, a work of comic genius. Mort's apprenticeship to Death is what really makes this book funny. Putting Death, the tall, somber enigma, with Mort, the clumsy, slightly dim assistant, together makes a lot of trouble for the real world. But what I want to know is, how did Death learn to cook like that?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical of the Discworld series. Splendid word play and ingenious Use of metaphor and PUNS.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book and series. I just cant put them down. Death is one of the best characters i have read. Love love love
stuckathome More than 1 year ago
I found Terry Pratchett only recently, beginning with Hogfather, which takes place approximately thirty years after the events of Mort. I am, therefore, playing catch-up ball here, but it's a great game! The Discworld comes with an unusual frame of mind, albeit very easy to adapt to, and hilarious besides. I enjoy novels with footnotes, too. You'll find yourself seeing things in a different way by the end of any book in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
HILARIOUS. GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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KimHeniadis More than 1 year ago
Mort was chosen by my book club, so it’s not a book I would have picked. Not that I don’t enjoy comedic fantasy, I just have so many other books I would rather read first. I really tried to keep an open mind though, since I know Terry Pratchett has a large following. Unfortunately this book was just okay, nothing I can rave about. The overall theme was Death takes a holiday, which has been done numerous times before. I didn’t feel as if this story added anything unique to the genre. I do love cats though, and so does Death, so that was a positive. The main character, Mort, was my least favorite, and I would say a boring character. Perhaps though, Pratchett was going for that. The reason I thought that was because whenever anyone talked to Mort, they called him boy or lad. And Mort would always correct them. Even to the other characters in the book, he wasn’t worth the time to get to know his name. There are two ways to read this book; fast and just go along with the story, or slow and really think about the word play, writing style and world events/politics that were happening during the same time the book was written. I started reading the book fast, but when I did slow down there was some word play that was quite enjoyable. One of the characters was talking about the princess and the pea, and another character thought they meant pee. There were a couple of moments that surprised me. One being Death’s cook and when we find out more about him. And the romance that blooms between Mort and Death’s daughter. It just sort of, BAM, happened. The word play and surprises just aren’t enough to make me want to start reading more about Disc World. Perhaps if I talked with those who love Pratchett’s writing, I could be swayed.
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lovetoreadAR More than 1 year ago
Wow. This one was crazy. Death is fun as always, but he's also more creepy and superpowerful than the past books let on. This is the guy no one wants to mess with. So naturally he takes an apprentice and it's a smackdown battle of 'Deaths' to see who gets to keep the title. Not to mention the other issues, like a princess who may or may not be dead, a world on the verge of collapse, you know, an average day on the disk. lol. Loved getting to know Mort and Death's daughter and the wizards. Great fun and one heck of a ride. The details of how Death works, right down to the details of the hourglasses, the sound of the sands, and the biographies kept me thoroughly immersed in the story.
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