Fantasy Novel Review: Mort by Terry Pratchett

If you’re reading a speculative fiction blog, there’s a very good chance you’ve read more Discworld than I have. I keep meaning to circle back around, and then I get distracted by a new release and put them off a little longer. But Mort by Terry Pratchett happened to be one of the few books I could access in both audio and physical copies, so when a short road trip came up, it was the natural choice. 

Mort is the first book in the Death subseries of Discworld. It was not require prior series knowledge, and I have been told that it is itself not required to read further into the Death subseries. But, as the beginning, it seems a good place to start. The plot follows Mort, an awkward teenager who becomes an apprentice to the anthropomorphic personification of Death. Hijinks, you may say, ensue. 

Like in my previous Pratchett experience (Guards! Guards!), the setup is an absolute delight. The humor is plentiful and plenty humorous, and the character of Death is a whole lot of fun. But once the main plot gets going, the density of jokes drops noticeably (they’re certainly still there, just not seemingly every paragraph anymore), and the main arc isn’t interesting enough to make up for it. It’s fine, and there are certainly some excellent moments, but in general, it’s an unexceptional “fighting Fate/paradox” story. 

Fortunately, it’s a very short book, so the unexceptional main plot doesn’t overstay its welcome, and the humor has plenty of time to shine. And the standard wisdom on Discworld indicates that the plot arcs get better as the series progresses—without losing the humor—so I’m certainly planning to keep reading more. But while Mort is a lot fun, it’s not the sort of book that kicks off a binge. 

For those who are new to Discworld, I’d certainly recommend giving it a couple chapters—scratch that, Discworld books don’t have chapters. So give it a solid preview. Doesn’t even have to be this book (although I have been told to avoid The Colour of Magic as a starting point). But it won’t take long to see whether the humor works for you. If it does, there’s plenty to like. 

Recommended if you like: comic fantasy. 

Can I use it for BingoI’m honestly not sure you can, unless it’s been at the Bottom of Your TBR (as it has with mine). 

Overall rating: 15 of Tar Vol’s 20. Four stars on Goodreads. 


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