Mort (Discworld Series #4)

Mort (Discworld Series #4)

by Terry Pratchett

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062225719
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/29/2013
Series: Discworld Series
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 46,433
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sir Terry Pratchett was the internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books, including his phenomenally successful Discworld series. His young adult novel, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, won the Carnegie Medal, and Where's My Cow?, his Discworld book for “readers of all ages,” was a New York Times bestseller. His novels have sold more than seventy five million (give or take a few million) copies worldwide. Named an Officer of the British Empire “for services to literature,” Pratchett lived in England. He died in 2015 at the age of sixty-six.


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

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...

Customer Reviews

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Mort 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 168 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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
polarbear123 on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This was a cracking read after I had a break from the Pratchett books for a while. Every page made me chuckle with some sort of off kilter observation or joke. The story is largely irrelevant to the humour but is a fantastic read in its own right. I was sceptical before I read any Terry Pratchett but I am now definitely a huge fan- every book just gets better and better. Death in Discworld is such a great cvharacter- has he been in every book so far up to the point when Mort was written - I think so- I hope he is in many more to come!
redfiona on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I enjoyed this book.Part of me wonders if I would have enjoyed it more had I read it when it first came out, when anthropomorphic Deaths were less abundant, because that's very much the central point of this book, and I think it may well lose something with it being less of a new thing.There were lots of parts of the book I enjoyed, particularly Mort waiting in the town square, and I loved Princess Keli, Cutwell and Albert. My main problem was that I felt the book didn't hang together as well as it should.Still, an enjoyable read.
salimbol on LibraryThing 2 days ago
The first Discworld novel to deal with Death himself, and it's a delight, playing with stereotypes and readers' expectations in true Pratchett fashion, and telling a rather exciting tale in the process. I've heard that this is the point at which the Discworld books began to truly feel like "Discworld as most of us know it" (as opposed to the series of feather-light gags, however chuckle-worthy, of the first few books), and to me it really does feel like "Discworld proper", a few little missteps with Death's characterisation notwithstanding. Tons of fun, and very much recommended. All it was really missing was Susan!
johnthefireman on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Death is looking for an apprentice. He ends up with an awkward, gangling lad, whose name happens to be Mort. Walking through walls, falling in love with princesses, interacting with Death's daughter, cook and horse, and interfering with the basis of reality are all part of Mort's new life with Death.Not as hilariously funny as some of the Discworld books, but still pretty good. As always, Pratchett manages to comment obliquely on various aspects of our world with a dry humour.
ErlendSkjelten on LibraryThing 2 days ago
As with any Discworld book I read at this point, I must first qualify my statements by noting that my impressions are inevitably coloured by the rest of the series. Mort is a book I actually read once before, way back in the murky depths of the past. This was when I first tasted Discworld, reading the short-lived Norwegian translations, and actually reading them in order. Needless to say, I recall almost nothing of it, so rereading it now, in the original English was pretty much akin to reading it for the first time.Mort is the story of the boy with the same name, who has trouble fitting in on his father's farm, on account of thinking too much. His father takes him to the market to apprentice him to some trade, mostly just to be rid of him. After waiting hopefully for most of the day, he finally gets a master just at the stroke of midnight: Death. As Death's apprentice he must deal with dour butlers, haughty daughters, a world made entirely in shades of black, and also the the whole bit about making people die. Predictably, he messes up, and endangers the fabric of reality.This is the first of the Death books, one of my favourite subseries of Discworld, but it is not one of my favourite books. It is one of the earliest of the Discworld books, and you can tell that Pratchett hasn't quite found the footing that makes the better part of the series truly great. Don't get me wrong, it is absolutely a good book. It has a plot which is interesting enough, sets up characters that you really get to care about in later books, and it is of course very, very funny. Pratchett could probably write a plotless epic devoid of characters, and it would still be utterly hilarious. But however funny it might be, it feels off to me. Probably because I am so used to his later works. One thing that felt very jarring was when he suddenly referenced our world in the middle of the text, pulling me out of the story. Again, it is quite possible this wouldn't have bothered me at all if I wasn't used to the style of the later books, but there you are.Notice how I said it sets up characters you get to care about later? They too seem off to me in this book, they have also not yet found the mould which will make them fantastic. Death in particular seemed to be more of a rough sketch of what will become the true character in later books. Mort himself is entirely forgettable.This is a book that should probably be read early, while you are new to Discworld, so that the changes in style will seem gradual rather than jarring. Having read and loved the later Death books, this one actually kind of disappointed me. Coming to it with the right expectations might make all the difference.
theboylatham on LibraryThing 2 days ago

Seven out of ten.

Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job. After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romantic longings did not mix easily with the responsibilities of being Death's apprentice...

jnicholson on LibraryThing 2 days ago
An unlikely coming-of-age experience is about to happen to Mort, as he is acceptable as an apprentice to Death. We have met Death before in the Discworld novels, but this version seems to be going through a mid-life crisis and the result is a much more sympathetic character. Pratchett was to re-use the characters from this novel considerably in future outings.
iftyzaidi on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Having read this many years ago and remembering little about it other than that I thought it was one of the best of the early discworld books, I decided that Mort was up for a re-read. The basic plot revolves around one of my favourite dsicworld characters - Death - who takes on an apprentice to whom he hands over the grim job of reaping souls. Overall I found the characterisation more superficial than in Pratchett's more reccent works. The storyline, once the plot device of Death taking on an apprentice is put into play, is rather mediocre (with a rather disappointing resolution to the story at the end). Pratchett is on song as far as the humour and the jokes are concerned. Overall this doesn't stand in the top rank of discworld novels, but in delving in the character of Death its still an essential read for Pratchett fans.
SimoneA on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Mort is definitely my favorite Discworld book so far (I am reading in order)! I just love the character 'Death', and Mort did a good job as replacement.
SamuelW on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Having never read a Terry Pratchett novel before, I was in for quite a treat when I first picked up Mort. It is not hard to see how the Discworld novels have developed such a massive following ¿ Pratchett pokes fun at every little bit of the fantasy genre, developing delightfully absurd situations which give rise to some of the best laughs I¿ve had in quite a while. What is especially commendable is that the pace, energy and humour of Mort do not deteriorate towards the latter half of the novel ¿ (a common failing with humorous books) ¿ they just keep getting stronger and funnier.The strongest point of Pratchett¿s humour, in my opinion, is the way he expertly blends description with comedy, making a joke, but at the same time painting a very clear picture. Sentences like `. . . by the time it (the river) got to the Shades even an agnostic could have walked across it,¿ are good examples of his skill. Also commendable is the way he pokes fun at fantasy steresotypes ¿ for example: lots of candles, incense and circles drawn all over the floor in wizardry, when really, Pratchett explains, it¿s all just for show.The characters in Mort are delightful mis-caricatures of wizards, princesses and tragic, romantic women. Pratchett playfully exaggerates the parts of their personas that might not be mentioned in a regular novel ¿ for instance, the way Ysabell¿s stomach bulges through her impractical dress due to a diet of too much chocolate. There are no characters in this book who are just normal characters; they all have fascinating traits and idiosyncrasies that make them appealing and lively, helping to create the humour. The more extravagant the personalities, the more absurd the personality clashes!Mort isn¿t going to win any awards for superb writing, or change your life with its powerful messages about anything in particular, but if you want a book that will make you laugh until your family members give you odd looks and whisper to each other, then they don¿t come much better than this! Recommended for light-hearted readers of thirteen years and above.
love2laf on LibraryThing 2 days ago
I do love this book! Death has to be one of the best characters of all, or at least my favourite. No matter how many times I read this one, I enjoy it.
lecari on LibraryThing 2 days ago
This was a present from an ex - I hadn't read it before, despite enjoying many other Discworld novels. I finished it in about three hours because I just couldn't put it down. Death is my favourite Discworld character, I love the way he looks at things and his witty sense of humour. My favourite scene was maybe in the pub, or when he was helping in the café - they had me laughing out loud! Mort was also good, and it was interesting to hear about Albert's past.
Alan_Dawson on LibraryThing 6 days ago
It was a brilliant idea, having Death take on an apprentice, with the antics Mort got up to, it just kept me riveted to the book. With deaths various appearances throughout, it nearly encouraged me to skip some of the books to just get to the Reaper Man, Terry's 11th Discworld book :o), however i am determined to read them in sequence and savour the enjoyment of reading the books in order of publication. Thouroughly enjoyed this book.
fiverivers on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Slowly making my way through the Discworld series. This fourth novel doesn't disappoint, exploring in Pratchett's usual funny, madcap manner the apprenticeship of Mortimer to none other than Death Himself. Told with wit and style, the characterization is excellent, the plot brisk, and although Pratchett deals with an old concept, he handles it with freshness and vivacity.
Schizmatik on LibraryThing 6 days ago
First book I read from Pratchett. Nice social satire.
rboyechko on LibraryThing 6 days ago
There isn't much to say about this book, except that it's as good as the other novels by Terry Pratchett. It's at times funny, at times a little sad, while at others thought-provoking in the mad way that any Terry Pratchett fan will know. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the sub-series, "Reaper Man."
phoenixfire0215 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I really love Death in Pratchett's books so I was excited to read a book that was focused on him, but I was somewhat disappointed. It still had a lot of funny bits (Death cooks at one point), but I was not super-impressed with this one. It may be one of those expectation things.Mort strikes me as a somewhat bumbling character, who knows he is not supposed to do something, but then does it anyway. Of course, I guess that is typical of humans in general so he gets a partial pass.There are these books that write down the stories of humans, and what happens with them is really amusing. I definitely loved each scene with those books. I think I need a break from Pratchett maybe a couple months to better appreciate his humor again.
ngeunit1 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
Mort is the fourth novel in the Discworld series, and the first in the Death storyline. This story introduces Death as a main character. The Discworld's Death is not exactly like the commonly through of figure of Death. Yes, he wears black and carries a scythe, but he is a very different character. This Death goes along and does his job with a sense of purpose, not enjoyment or greed. He also likes cats, a lot.Mort is the protagonist of the story, and is a child growing up without very much purpose or direction. Which leads his father to bring him to a job fair, at which he is hired by Death. The story then becomes about Mort growing up and going through the various aspects of growing up and dealing with the mental aspects of being Death's apprentice. It is a very interesting comparison to view Death and Mort performing the same duties side-by-side and watching their reactions and their through process.Mort is one of the best Discworld novels. It contains all of the great Terry Pratchett humor that everyone expects from him and also delivers one of his better stories. The story is fast paced and has all of the good makings of a coming-of-age story told with a really interesting spin.
eddy79 on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I'd always heard of this as one of the very best Discword novels, but I was pretty underwhelmed. Whilst Death is one of my favourite characters in the series, Mort himself seemed a little - meh.
briefmissives on LibraryThing 6 days ago
I finished reading Mort a couple of days ago (January 24th), and perhaps the way to best indicate how much I enjoyed it is to say that I requested Reaper Man right away, book 2 in the Death series. I had a lot of fun reading this one.The book focuses in on the Death character of Discworld, who looks like your basic Grim Reaper - skeleton, black hooded robe, scythe and sword. At the beginning of the book, Mort is ¿all elbows and knees¿, and his father believes that he thinks too much. For this reason, his father ends up taking Mort to the village, in the hopes of Mort finding an apprenticeship. Death obliges, and takes Mort under his wing - or robe, as it were. When Death takes a day off and gives Mort a couple of jobs, Mort of course makes a mess of things. He has a crush on the young princess he¿s supposed to be ¿ushering into the next world¿, and so instead he kills the princess¿s assassin. The rest of the book deals with how Mort tries to ¿fix¿ history, which continues to trundle along as if the princess were dead, and how Death tries to get in touch with his, er, human side.While I enjoyed Mort¿s character, what really made this book for me was the character of Death. There were some scenes in the book that literally had me laughing out loud, something I don¿t do that often when reading a book. Many of the scenes that made me laugh were ones which dealt with Death¿s peculiar character. He¿s a mix between a humorless, all-work-and-no-play god, and a small child who is clueless of how the world works, due to his rather abnormal working conditions. This becomes readily apparent when he tries to do things that humans do, like going to the bar: ¿I don¿t see the point,¿ the stranger said. [Death] ¿Sorry?¿ ¿What is supposed to happen?¿ ¿How many drinks have you had?¿ ¿Forty-seven.¿ ¿Just about anything, then,¿ said the barman. . . .I burst out laughing at ¿Forty-seven.¿ In the book, Death also has a soft spot for kittens - go figure.I loved this book, but a word of caution to those who might be inclined to read it after reading my post here: if you don¿t like silliness mixed in with your fantasy, don¿t read this. I¿ve read that the Discworld series has developed over the years to not have such large amounts of gag humor in it, but this being one of the early Discworld novels, it runneth over with silliness. There¿s a lot of stuff that just makes no sense, and if you¿re someone who¿s going to get caught up going ¿that¿s silly¿ or ¿that wouldn¿t work like that¿, you probably won¿t enjoy this.However, if you think you¿d like a kitten-loving Death, or a world that is held up by four giant elephants riding a 10,000 mile long turtle who¿s floating through space, you¿ll love this. Read it.