Mort is an unpromising, gangling teenager who becomes an apprentice to Death, but proves less than gifted at his new task of ushering souls out of the world. In fact, when it comes to the rather attractive Princess Keli (due to be assassinated), Mort fluffs if completely. He kills the assassin instead, thus interfering with the implacable workings of Fate. But reality isn't changed so easily; history as it should have been begins to take shape around Keli's city- state of Sto Lat. Can Mort save Keli before she is squeezed out of existence?
Death, having delegated much of his work to Mort, is displaying disturbingly human characteristics: drinking, dice-playing and becoming curious about the nature of fun. Mort, meanwhile, is becoming much less cheery and showing a worrying tendency to SPEAK IN HOLLOW CAPITALS . . . (from ISIS Audio)
Not my favorite Pratchett book, sadly enough. I do so hate it when I don’t like a book from a favorite author. It’s SO awkward!
Possibly part of my problem is the audiobook itself– Nigel Planer does wonderful male voices, but his female ones tend to sound a bit…shrill? (Or maybe it’s just the ones in THIS book.)
For example: Ysabel, Death’s daughter, who is already an annoying person, is made even more annoying by way her voice comes out. Every scene with her was grating, and though I suspect I was supposed to be annoyed by her at the beginning, by the end I should have felt some affection for her as she’s actually a very interesting person with heroic tendencies. No go, however.
Unfortunately, the story isn’t that interesting, either. Death becoming human happens a LOT in the Discworld books, though I think this was the first time, chronologically. Since I read the Discworld books out of order, I’ve happened across this same scenario at least three other times, so I’m used to his antics by now. A huge chunk of Mort was, therefore, less effective than it should have been.
So basically: annoying people on one side, boring story on the other. Nowhere to run for enjoyment! Though I DID very much like Mort himself. He’s smart and heroic in a way that isn’t obvious, but which makes for some very good character development.
A lot of people recommend starting with Mort as an intro to Pratchett, and I can see why. It has a lot of the stuff he’s famous for (humor, funny characters, Death and his views on the wonders of humanity, etc.), but personally I’d recommend starting somewhere else. Like Night Watch, maybe. (Though that’s a personal prejudice as the Night Watch subseries is my favorite. Ahem.)
Read: October 07 to 09, 2013