Author: Terry Pratchett
Publication Date: 1987
Number of Pages: 243
Part of a Series: Yes, The Discworld Series (38 novels in the series as of October 2010). Mort is the 4th novel published in the Discworld series & the first book featuring Death.
- Death - Fictitious character
- Discworld - Imaginary place
- Fantasy Fiction
- Dark Humor
Geographical Setting/ Time Period: Discworld
- Death- the anthropomorphic personification of Death, he is a seven foot tall skeleton that wears a black robe, carries a scythe, has a fondness for cats, and rides a large horse named Binky. Death’s job consists of ushering souls into the afterlife, which He describes as a necessary public service. He talks in SMALL CAPS.
- Mort- A naïve teenage from Discworld, Mortimer, known as Mort, is described by his father as being prevented from doing anything practical by his propensity to think too much.
Plot Summary: Death has decided it is time to find an apprentice. He chooses Mort, who isn’t known for being good at getting things done and is known for being all knees and elbows. When Death lets Mort run the show for a day, disaster strikes when Mort accidentally kills the assassin sent to kill the princess instead of Death’s next victim- the princess herself. Meanwhile, Death has taken a holiday and is reluctant to return to work.
Appeal: Mort is filled with the satirical humor Pratchett is known for. The story is character driven and the characters, even Death, are ones you’ve seen before. In a way this is a coming of age story, for the character Mort. While the setting and frame are unique and important to the story, knowledge of the fantasy world of Discworld is not essential. The pace is slow at first but builds quickly after Death takes Mort away. Unique to Pratchett’s style of the lack of chapters; sometimes scene breaks are shown by asterisks. Sentences are short and language is modern, but some characters have unique language styles that differentiate them.
Special Features: Footnotes throughout text, a crossword puzzle, a index of main characters in the Discworld series, “Discworld on $30 a day” feature, and a non-map.
Brief quote: “‘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’S BE A BLOODY STUPID WORLD IF PEOPLE GOT KILLED WITHOUT DYING, WOULDN’T IT?”
Prizes or Awards: Pratchett was the bestselling author in the UK in the 1990s before JK Rowling. Mort was voted the most popular Pratchett novel by the BBC’s Big Read 2003.
- Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett Second book featuring Death as main character
- A dirty job by Christopher Moore Death as a fictitious character, dark humor
- Death, Jr., vol. 1 by Gary Whitta Death as a fictitious character, humorous
Reviewers Name: Lori Chatman
Adapted from Saricks, Joyce G. and Nancy Brown. Readers= Advisory Service in the Public Library 2nd. Chicago: ALA, 1997