Mort is a short and hilarious romp through Terry Pratchett's Discworld featuring:
- Mort, a teenager whom no one except Death wants to hire as an apprentice and whose name people find it impossible to remember
- Death, the reaper tasked with transporting important people to the afterlife and who's very confused by the mortal concept of fun
- Death's daughter
- an unkempt magician
- an obstinate Princess.
After a dispiriting day of waiting in vain to be hired at the town hiring fair, Mortimer is just getting ready to trudge home from the town square when Death appears looking for an apprentice. Mort's father is a bit confused, but after making sure that it's a job with good employment prospects that'll make a good contributing member of society of Mort, off Mort goes to Death's home outside Time.
The plot essentially consists of Mort taking a few people to the afterlife and then making a big mistake when he tries to save a princess he has a crush on and manages to create a hole in the fabric of reality itself. Hijinks ensue.
The plot, while perfectly serviceable, definitely isn't the main draw of this book -- the writing is just hilarious. Whether it's:
- everyone calling Mort "boy" and him constantly muttering "Mort" after their lines
- Pratchett's frequent observations like "So long as he caught nothing Terpsic Mims was one of the Disc’s happiest anglers, because the Hakrull river was five miles from his home and therefore five miles from Mrs Gwladys Mims, with whom he had enjoyed six happy months of married life. That had been some twenty years previously."
- little details like the staff of Sto Lat castle and lesser nobles of Sto Lat being called the Yeoman of the Pantry, the Lord of the Privy Closet and the Lady of the Small Hexagonal Room in the North Turret
- Death's horse being called Binky
- Death's speech (which isn't heard but rather beamed into the mind) always being represented LIKE THIS is great, and his foray into the mortal world to take his first holiday since possibly the beginning of time and try to figure out what fun is.
Pratchett just has incredible voice, and so his very-involved-narrator role works really well.
"“Well,----me,” he said. “A----ing wizard. I hate----ing wizards!” “You shouldn’t----them, then,” muttered one of his henchmen, effortlessly pronouncing a row of dashes.”
The worldbuilding of Mort doesn't really stand up to rigorous scrutiny, which is fine. This is lampooned by Pratchett a few times, when he says that he has no ambition of creating a consistent Discworld and is perfectly happy for the rules of magic/physics to be different in different places, and when a plothole is explained away by Death telling Mort not to rely so much on mathematics. He also explains people not being shocked by the appearance of Death/Death's apprentice or not seeing them as 'people see what they expect to see'.
Some quotes (not even necessarily the best ones honestly, just the ones I could find, which are still great...)
[Quotes are from here or Goodreads Quotes]
- "But you’re Death,’ said Mort. ‘You go around killing people!’
- I? KILL? said Death, obviously offended. CERTAINLY NOT. PEOPLE GET KILLED, BUT THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS. I JUST TAKE OVER FROM THEN ON. AFTER ALL, IT’D BE A BLOODY STUPID WORLD IF PEOPLE GOT KILLED WITHOUT DYING, WOULDN’T IT?
- "Mort’s innate honesty will never make him a poet; if Mort ever compared a girl to a summer’s day it would have been followed by a thoughtful explanation of what day he had in mind and whether it was raining at the time." -- This is SO ME. #headcanon: Mort is autistic.
- "He’d never plucked up the courage to try Albert’s porridge, which led a private life of its own in the depths of its saucepan and ate spoons."
- "She drew herself up to her full height, which wasn’t really worth the effort."
- "Ankh-Morpork had dallied with many forms of government and had ended up with that form of democracy known as One Man, One Vote. The Patrician was the Man; he had the Vote."
- THERE’S NO JUSTICE. THERE’S JUST ME.
- "Pardon me for living, I’m sure."
"NO-ONE GETS PARDONED FOR LIVING. "