Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins e-books; Reissue edition


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Mort is my first forey into the Discworld domain of fantasy author Terry Pratchett, and I found it fascinating. Perhaps it is fate when the teenaged boy, Mort, fails to get a job on his visit to the hiring fair in Sheepridge, and in the dark long after everyone else has gone home, is apprenticed to Death. The book is written in third person, and Death speaks in capital letters without the need for speech.

Death in Discworld is the familiar figure we know, and yet he is not. Because this Death has built a family, now comprised of our protagonist Mort, Death's daughter Ysabell (of the silver hair and eyes and a figure reflecting too many chocolates) and his manservant named Albert (stick-thin, raw-nosed and some two thousand years old.) This family lives in a non-reality outside of time and space "known to the few astrophysicists who have taken really bad acid" in which Death has carved a domain where his human family exists. Death's home contains myriad parts, including a stable where live the finest of Death's live horses, a black garden, a library where resides the books into which each soul is written; a kitchen where Albert cooks meals for Mort and Ysabell.

Before Death begins to teach Mort how he performs his office, and of course, it all goes awry, Mort agrees he wishes to "learn the uttermost secrets of time and space," and is sent on his first job to clean the stable, where he meets Death's horse, Binky.

I can see why Pratchett's books are so popular. Mort is everyman (or perhaps Everyboy) and Death is a surprisingly sympathetic character; one can certainly understand why he would wish to have a vacation. Pratchett's blend of myth and humor is charming like a fairy tale, humorous in a personal way, compassionate, and quirky. I can see why his books are so popular.