Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Tonyblack » Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:42 pm

Death is seen, at the very start of the book, looking amongst the life timers and choosing one. This seems to be Mort's and Death seems to be satisfied with that particular life.

The question I'm asking is what is it about Mort's life timer that causes Death to choose it?

I think there's more to it than 'because the plot requires it'.
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Postby rockershovel » Sun Mar 20, 2011 5:57 am

I don't agree. TP sometimes appears to include things simply for the sake of including the joke, or because the plot requires it, or to keep things moving along or just fill some space, and I think this is one of them.

There are any number of things Death does which don't really follow. I've never really understood WHY he pursues his feud with the Auditors, why he goes to Miss Flitwick as Bill Door - when he clearly has no real idea what he intends to do there - or why it is his particularly HIS responsibility to persuade people to believe in the Hogfather.

The business about quite WHY he maintains a quasi-human household has already been discussed.

Most comic writers re-use existing characters or stock situations to inhabit a joke or situation they wish to use, and TP is no exception.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:26 am

The next book for discussion will be The Last Continent. The discussion will start on Monday 4th April, so you have two weeks to read or reread the book. :D
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Postby Pearwood » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:58 pm

Tonyblack wrote:The question I'm asking is what is it about Mort's life timer that causes Death to choose it?


Could it be maybe because Mort's a similar age to Ysabell? I seem to recall he encourages Mort and Ysabell to spend time together at least once. So maybe it was a case of killing two birds with one stone: he gets an apprentice, Ysabell gets a companion.
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Postby Dotsie » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:51 pm

Ysabel needs a boyfriend, Mort needs a job, and Death has a sense of humour.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:16 am

You now have one week to read or reread The Last Continent for the discussion starting Monday 4th April. :D
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Postby LilMaibe » Mon Mar 28, 2011 10:11 am

Another thought:

Could it be that Death adopted Ysabell and took Mort a apprentice because deep in himself he remembered how things would end if those two weren't what they are?

Let's look at it like this: Without the two, no Susann, without her, how often would the world have ended in a desaster?
Soul Music, Hogfather, Thief of Time...
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:27 am

Are you assuming that Terry had already decided to create Susan?

There's something like seven years between Mort and Soul Music.

I thin it's more likely that, after mentioning Ysabell in Light Fantastic, Terry decided to elaborate on her story. Clearly Death doesn't need an apprentice, it seems to be more of an excuse to get companionship for Ysabell. And it goes badly wrong because not only does Mort take on Death's powers, but he also brings a certain humanity to Death that didn't exist before.
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Postby Prolekult » Thu Jun 16, 2011 4:44 am

swreader wrote:
And of course there''s the question of why DEATH turns Mort's life-timer over. It seems to me that may be because MORT could have destroyed DEATH and become MORT, but chose not to. DEATH thus owes him his continued existence.

____________
*Terry Pratchett & Steven Briggs - The Discworld Companion; p. 278


Just reread this one, sorry I'm late...I got the impression that when Death turns the lifetimer over, this is a "human" decision - as Tonyblack said:

Tonyblack wrote:Death becomes more human and Mort becomes more Death-like.


He knows it is against the "rules", but decides to do it anyway, for the sake of Ysabell and having been impressed by Mort's character in standing up and fighting him.

I agree with what others have said that Mort was chosen for Ysabell's sake as well. Maybe also the name, when Death ask's Mort's name and says "WHAT A COINCIDENCE", is he saying it ironically, having chosen Mort's lifetimer himself at the start of the book?

One question I wondered about was about the original assassin, surely Mort killing him prematurely is as bad as extending Keli's life, or worse? Is the fate of the assassin explained at all later, is he brought back to life when the reality bubble sets back in? Questions, questions...
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:58 am

I've been rereading Mort very carefully and I am alternating between feelings about the way it ends.

The introducing-Mort scene reminds me of the opening scene of an old movie, The Littlest Angel, which has been complained about by parents whose children became afraid to run on flat ground because there' s no indication of what actually causes the movie kid's death. Mort is also running in mountainous country, and he is shown to be clumsy.

Regarding Death's original choices of Ysabell and then Mort, I think he knew that Ysabell was going to have a very short life anyway, and so was Mort. What he originally altered was how that life would be spent. Mort's original lifetimer had only a few days left, if that - the total hours he spent in the mortal world, plus the time expended in the fight, because lifesands flow in the Lifetimer room. It was winter when they went to Sheepridge; he might have caught cold and died on the way home or shortly afterward. Ysabell probably had even less time left, the length of time she spent in the coronation scene, which is about how long it would have taken her to die in the desert as an infant. Spoiler for SM:
Spoiler: show
They got identical amounts of time to live after the agreement was made, so they both had used up all their original lifespan.

The main issue I have is with the timing of the climax. Death says he had a word with the gods. When did he have that discussion? There is no break between Mort and company arriving and the whole fight and sudden end. On the face of it, it looks as though Death must have had the discussion with the gods before they arrived, which would mean the whole fight scene is contrived and is just dramatic grandstanding. If so, I'm angry; that's petty on a TCoM level.

But wait, Death can be in more than one place at a time - he's everywhere at once. So maybe he was having the discussion during the fight. Well, when? When did the gods agree to intervene? Was it when Ysabell slapped Death and the noise sounded like a dice cup rattling? (Like the dice cup rattling in TCoM?) Or was it later, after she slapped him and he stood tapping his fingers and seemed to be thinking?

Then he says he can't be bidden - as if it's important that he keeps up the image that nobody can give him orders. He's given orders every time he is called irresistibly by the Rite of AshkEnte. Who is he trying to convince? Albert? Is he really talking only to Ysabell? Or is he defending himself to the gods? Whichever it is, he must have made the agreement by then and he just finishes the fight to save face. He demonstrates that he can take away the sword at any time, so he obviously never needed to have a fight in the first place. It was still all drama, and a sign that he was definitely affected by his interference with humans. (As Ysabell said to Mort much earlier, in the garden, "I think you're having an effect on him.") If it's that his curiosity has led to his being affected by the interactions with humans, I'm less angry, because that would explain some of his behavior. I think Mort is projecting when he remembers the loneliness. I don't think Death is lonely at first; I think he became able to feel lonely as a result of the events of this book. He's experimenting with a kind of intellectual equivalent of emotions, or perhaps demonstrating that emotions are not all glandular.
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby RolandItwasntmyfault » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:39 am

LilMaibe wrote:Another thought:

Could it be that Death adopted Ysabell and took Mort a apprentice because deep in himself he remembered how things would end if those two weren't what they are?

Let's look at it like this: Without the two, no Susann, without her, how often would the world have ended in a desaster?
Soul Music, Hogfather, Thief of Time...


In the story perhaps, in Soul Music we see for sure what (or who) Death sees before he turns the lifetimer, perhaps there also might be memories about later happenings (Hogfather, Thief of Time).
Out of the story presumbly not. As Tony said, there are some years between Mort and Soul Music. I think by the time Terry wrote Mort he at the best had a vague idea about how it perhaps could turn out but I don't think he has planned all this from Susan to Hogfather to Thief of Time.
When he wrote Soul Music and Hogfather and Thief of Time, then, I think, he wrote it in a way in which it neatly fits together
Spoiler: show
Susan travelling back in time to bee seen by Death just before he would have killed Mort; to give him the ability to remembering things which didn't happen until now and so on.



=Tamar wrote:I've been rereading Mort very carefully and I am alternating between feelings about the way it ends.

The introducing-Mort scene reminds me of the opening scene of an old movie, The Littlest Angel, which has been complained about by parents whose children became afraid to run on flat ground because there' s no indication of what actually causes the movie kid's death. Mort is also running in mountainous country, and he is shown to be clumsy.

Regarding Death's original choices of Ysabell and then Mort, I think he knew that Ysabell was going to have a very short life anyway, and so was Mort. What he originally altered was how that life would be spent. Mort's original lifetimer had only a few days left, if that - the total hours he spent in the mortal world, plus the time expended in the fight, because lifesands flow in the Lifetimer room. It was winter when they went to Sheepridge; he might have caught cold and died on the way home or shortly afterward. Ysabell probably had even less time left, the length of time she spent in the coronation scene, which is about how long it would have taken her to die in the desert as an infant. Spoiler for SM:
Spoiler: show
They got identical amounts of time to live after the agreement was made, so they both had used up all their original lifespan.



Very interesting thoughs. Haven't seen this yet, but I think, yes quite possible. He takes two people out of "reality" who anyway have no further possibility to alter reality. It's speculation, but seen in this way also the lifetimer Death choices fits very good ... not only Morts name (Death' nickname as we know from earlier books), perhaps he would have come for him anyway the next days ... It's speculation but I have no problems to see it this way, too (and there also has been a third life which wouldn't have lasted long (although this term in this case stretching far) and which Death has agreed (he wouldn't have to) to "adopt" to his home: Albert).


=Tamar wrote:The main issue I have is with the timing of the climax. Death says he had a word with the gods. When did he have that discussion? There is no break between Mort and company arriving and the whole fight and sudden end. On the face of it, it looks as though Death must have had the discussion with the gods before they arrived, which would mean the whole fight scene is contrived and is just dramatic grandstanding. If so, I'm angry; that's petty on a TCoM level.

But wait, Death can be in more than one place at a time - he's everywhere at once. So maybe he was having the discussion during the fight. Well, when? When did the gods agree to intervene? Was it when Ysabell slapped Death and the noise sounded like a dice cup rattling? (Like the dice cup rattling in TCoM?) Or was it later, after she slapped him and he stood tapping his fingers and seemed to be thinking?


I think, Death can be everywhere everytime.
Spoiler: show
So I think he has his discussion in this few seconds between seeing Susan (as we see in Soul Music), his laugh and the sending away of Mort, Ysabell and so on.
I think at this moment he can see how it would come out and then decides to have a talk with the gods. He needs no time, no interruption, more so he even could have gone afterwards "back" in time to discuss with the gods while he at the same moment spotted Susan in the lifetimer room.
Also I see the possibility that he just after the fight and after he has seen Susan and after he has send them back went to the gods to discuss to let the alternated reality happen, to let Keli alive, to take backdated permission. At least in the comic it looks this way, although I never would see a comic as an evidence for a though about the book.



=Tamar wrote:Then he says he can't be bidden - as if it's important that he keeps up the image that nobody can give him orders. He's given orders every time he is called irresistibly by the Rite of AshkEnte. Who is he trying to convince? Albert? Is he really talking only to Ysabell? Or is he defending himself to the gods? Whichever it is, he must have made the agreement by then and he just finishes the fight to save face. He demonstrates that he can take away the sword at any time, so he obviously never needed to have a fight in the first place. It was still all drama, and a sign that he was definitely affected by his interference with humans. (As Ysabell said to Mort much earlier, in the garden, "I think you're having an effect on him.") If it's that his curiosity has led to his being affected by the interactions with humans, I'm less angry, because that would explain some of his behavior. I think Mort is projecting when he remembers the loneliness. I don't think Death is lonely at first; I think he became able to feel lonely as a result of the events of this book. He's experimenting with a kind of intellectual equivalent of emotions, or perhaps demonstrating that emotions are not all glandular.


Yes, I see it a similar way. If you study things or people you wouldn't last unaffected.
Also we know that such anthrophomorphic personifications as Death evolve from imagination and thoughs of, in the first play, living things in general, then of men and other sapient species. So it could be that some humanity thoughs also manifests in Death himself, especially men have a particular strong imagination and wouldn't be afraid to give Death human behaviours (not even Terry is immune thereof :lol: ;)), so this fastened this development. Over the millennia that is, it could cumulate, as it longed 2000 years from taking Albert to his house (which by itself also fastened Death' development in this case) until adopting Ysabell.


By the way: Anyone noticed that the elephant which fled out of the coronation room and out of the alternated realitiy is seen by Mort and Ysabell while riding on Binky to the castle in the "real" reality?
This can only mean, that there also has been an elephant in the real reality and now I speculate where this elephant comes from. Perhaps the evil duke also would have his coronation at this time and also knew the priest and would have take an elephant to ensure nothing would go wrong. :lol:
(Albeit my realistic inner voice: Terry just wanted to make a joke and didn't spot the possible continuity error. ;))
Nevertheless, in both realities there ist a running elephant.
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Tue Jul 22, 2014 3:57 pm

I think we only need to hide spoilers for other books; this is the discussion of Mort so we can talk freely about this book.

RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:
=Tamar wrote:When did the gods agree to intervene? Was it when Ysabell slapped Death and the noise sounded like a dice cup rattling? (Like the dice cup rattling in TCoM?) Or was it later, after she slapped him and he stood tapping his fingers and seemed to be thinking?


I think at this moment he can see how it would come out and then decides to have a talk with the gods. He needs no time, no interruption, more so he even could have gone afterwards "back" in time to discuss with the gods while he at the same moment spotted Susan in the lifetimer room.
Also I see the possibility that he just after the fight and after he has seen Susan and after he has send them back went to the gods to discuss to let the alternated reality happen, to let Keli alive, to take backdated permission. At least in the comic it looks this way, although I never would see a comic as an evidence for a though about the book.


I don't think Death ever goes back in time to change lives.
Spoiler for RM:
Spoiler: show
He did arrange for a pair of spirits to pass on at the same time despite having been separated for years, but that's not changing lifespans.

Your idea about Death getting backdated permission - I like that. That would allow the fight to be honest, and it would let the choice to let them all live be truly Death's choice as a result of Mort's actions, with the backdated permission being how Death made it work.
As he said during the fight, even the gods have to answer to him. Maybe that gave him more influence in getting retroactive permission. They could always claim it was "forgiveness"!

RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:Also we know that such anthrophomorphic personifications as Death evolve from imagination and thoughts of, in the first play, living things in general, then of men and other sapient species. So it could be that some humanity thoughts also manifests in Death himself, especially men have a particular strong imagination and wouldn't be afraid to give Death human behaviours (not even Terry is immune thereof :lol: ;)), so this fastened this development. Over the millennia that is, it could accumulate, as it longed 2000 years from taking Albert to his house (which by itself also fastened Death' development in this case) until adopting Ysabell.


I agree. Death does go along with the requests for chess games and so on, even though in this book I think he insists that the game result wouldn't change anything, and that only happens because of human beliefs that such a game might change something. So human thoughts have been changing Death more than he understands. I think Mort's presence has made Death change faster than he might have, because Ysabell mentions specifically that she thinks Mort has had an effect on Death. It certainly shows in Death's behavior; he begins to take time off, literally "to see life", to go fishing, etc.

It does make me wonder what happened a thousand years ago to give him a night off. Albert has been there two thousand years, so it wasn't dealing with Albert's arrival.

RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:By the way: Anyone noticed that the elephant which fled out of the coronation room and out of the alternated realitiy is seen by Mort and Ysabell while riding on Binky to the castle in the "real" reality?
This can only mean, that there also has been an elephant in the real reality and now I speculate where this elephant comes from. Perhaps the evil duke also would have his coronation at this time and also knew the priest and would have take an elephant to ensure nothing would go wrong. :lol:
(Albeit my realistic inner voice: Terry just wanted to make a joke and didn't spot the possible continuity error. ;))
Nevertheless, in both realities there is a running elephant.

Since the high priest was the correct one for a coronation, I think you're right and the Duke would have chosen the same priest, and he probably arranged for the elephant too. The choice of an elephant could have been because he wanted to make the biggest possible impression on the audience. Incidentally, I don't believe for a moment that he ever really intended to allow any of them to survive; the offer of "banishment" would have lasted just long enough for them to relax before being killed.
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby RolandItwasntmyfault » Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:44 am

=Tamar wrote:I think we only need to hide spoilers for other books; this is the discussion of Mort so we can talk freely about this book.


Yes, of course. Here I had the problem that some actions are explained only later on in Soul Music, especially why exactly Death didn't kill Mort. Hm, perhaps I should have written that the spoilers has been about Soul Music ...


=Tamar wrote:
RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:
=Tamar wrote:When did the gods agree to intervene? Was it when Ysabell slapped Death and the noise sounded like a dice cup rattling? (Like the dice cup rattling in TCoM?) Or was it later, after she slapped him and he stood tapping his fingers and seemed to be thinking?


I think at this moment he can see how it would come out and then decides to have a talk with the gods. He needs no time, no interruption, more so he even could have gone afterwards "back" in time to discuss with the gods while he at the same moment spotted Susan in the lifetimer room.
Also I see the possibility that he just after the fight and after he has seen Susan and after he has send them back went to the gods to discuss to let the alternated reality happen, to let Keli alive, to take backdated permission. At least in the comic it looks this way, although I never would see a comic as an evidence for a though about the book.


I don't think Death ever goes back in time to change lives.
Spoiler for RM:
Spoiler: show
He did arrange for a pair of spirits to pass on at the same time despite having been separated for years, but that's not changing lifespans.



I think he could but I don't think he would, too. My idea in this respects would be rather something along this lines: He decides during the fight that he wants Mort let alive. After the fight he could go back to the point of time in which he fights Mort and talk to the gods. But I don't believe it, too. He don't have go back in time and he wouldn't do it.

=Tamar wrote:Your idea about Death getting backdated permission - I like that. That would allow the fight to be honest, and it would let the choice to let them all live be truly Death's choice as a result of Mort's actions, with the backdated permission being how Death made it work.
As he said during the fight, even the gods have to answer to him. Maybe that gave him more influence in getting retroactive permission. They could always claim it was "forgiveness"!


Yes, I also think this is much neater and doesn't need much mental wriggling or emphazizing of sudden appearing superior abilities to let it work. Mort is asking Death afterwards, on the wedding, so Death had have enough time to get this permission.
I am not sure at the moment, but while reading until now I always though Death talked to the god in an inferior position. But it even could be the other way around. As you said, even gods have to answer to him, even gods can die. Death's only has to answer to Azrael, the Death of the Universe.


=Tamar wrote:
RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:Also we know that such anthrophomorphic personifications as Death evolve from imagination and thoughts of, in the first play, living things in general, then of men and other sapient species. So it could be that some humanity thoughts also manifests in Death himself, especially men have a particular strong imagination and wouldn't be afraid to give Death human behaviours (not even Terry is immune thereof :lol: ;)), so this fastened this development. Over the millennia that is, it could accumulate, as it longed 2000 years from taking Albert to his house (which by itself also fastened Death' development in this case) until adopting Ysabell.


I agree. Death does go along with the requests for chess games and so on, even though in this book I think he insists that the game result wouldn't change anything, and that only happens because of human beliefs that such a game might change something. So human thoughts have been changing Death more than he understands. I think Mort's presence has made Death change faster than he might have, because Ysabell mentions specifically that she thinks Mort has had an effect on Death. It certainly shows in Death's behavior; he begins to take time off, literally "to see life", to go fishing, etc.

It does make me wonder what happened a thousand years ago to give him a night off. Albert has been there two thousand years, so it wasn't dealing with Albert's arrival.


Hm, Albert is old, he is cynical, he remains in the same (2000 years) old mindsetting, he has "retired" from life (and when he goes back, to university that is, then he is the same old power-obsessed tyrant as before, just like most part of humanitiy at the whole). I think his effect on Death is very low, in contrast to the young, fresh, even back-talking ("Mort, my name is Mort!") and Keli-rescuing Mort. But I wanted Albert rather seen as evidence that Death absorbs human thinking, and this, under normal conditions, rather slow. Perhaps he could have made arrangements with human beings before, but I doubt it. So after how many thousand years for the first time he took a human being to his house. And then it 2000 years are passing until he decides to rescue a child and adopt a daughter. He must have been in the same situation many many times before (seeing a child which otherwise would have been condemned to ... er ... death), but now he takes her to his home. Then again it needs 30 years and he takes Mort. And Mort himself changes Death again, much much faster.
Human beings at home are working on Death like a catalyst.

=Tamar wrote:
RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:By the way: Anyone noticed that the elephant which fled out of the coronation room and out of the alternated realitiy is seen by Mort and Ysabell while riding on Binky to the castle in the "real" reality?
This can only mean, that there also has been an elephant in the real reality and now I speculate where this elephant comes from. Perhaps the evil duke also would have his coronation at this time and also knew the priest and would have take an elephant to ensure nothing would go wrong. :lol:
(Albeit my realistic inner voice: Terry just wanted to make a joke and didn't spot the possible continuity error. ;))
Nevertheless, in both realities there is a running elephant.

Since the high priest was the correct one for a coronation, I think you're right and the Duke would have chosen the same priest, and he probably arranged for the elephant too. The choice of an elephant could have been because he wanted to make the biggest possible impression on the audience. Incidentally, I don't believe for a moment that he ever really intended to allow any of them to survive; the offer of "banishment" would have lasted just long enough for them to relax before being killed.


After further thinking I am rather convinced that Terry himself knew that his intended joke to see an elephant which just had flet out of another realitiy (this one in the coronation room) is quit possible.
As you said, it was the correct priest for the coronation. Even more, Terry spends a rather big amount of time to explain that the coronation only can take place at a particular day, hour and so on. So in both realities there would be a coronation in the castle (either Keli or the duke), and, yes, possibly an elephant which later on runs away over the plains to bee seen by Mort.
Yes, I also didn't believe any second that the duke would let any of them to survive - well-proven cure against returning heirs-to-be first to "banish" them, then send an assassin or, more likely, arrest/make disappear (and execute) them right on the spot.
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Wed Jul 23, 2014 9:26 pm

RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:
=Tamar wrote: human thoughts have been changing Death more than he understands. I think Mort's presence has made Death change faster than he might have... [snip]... Albert has been there two thousand years, so it wasn't dealing with Albert's arrival.

Hm, Albert is old, he is cynical, he remains in the same (2000 years) old mindsetting, he has "retired" from life (and when he goes back, to university that is, then he is the same old power-obsessed tyrant as before, just like most part of humanity at the whole). I think his effect on Death is very low, in contrast to the young, fresh, even back-talking ("Mort, my name is Mort!") and Keli-rescuing Mort. But I wanted Albert rather seen as evidence that Death absorbs human thinking, and this, under normal conditions, rather slow.

I think you are right again. Albert's effect on Death may even have been in the other direction. As you say, Albert is the old power-obsessed tyrant he always was. Ysabell's presence may have softened him slightly over the 40-odd years she was there, but when he was telling Mort about the old days, he was approving of kings who had people executed for little or no reason. It's just faintly possible that Albert's influence was the reason Death seemed so harsh when we first saw him.

The best part about this kind of speculation is that there is no need to change anything in the actual book; just a shift in how we think about it will make the idea work.

RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:After further thinking I am rather convinced that Terry himself knew that his intended joke to see an elephant which just had fled out of another reality (this one in the coronation room) is quite possible.
As you said, it was the correct priest for the coronation. Even more, Terry spends a rather big amount of time to explain that the coronation only can take place at a particular day, hour and so on. So in both realities there would be a coronation in the castle (either Keli or the duke), and, yes, possibly an elephant which later on runs away over the plains to be seen by Mort.

That's a good point about the choice of time for the coronation. That definitely would put both coronations at the same time and place. The elephant would have been in both of them, so there is no continuity error - the elephant was slightly wounded and ran out through the door and across the plains in both realities.
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Re: Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby =Tamar » Wed Aug 06, 2014 6:49 pm

=Tamar wrote:The best part about this kind of speculation is that there is no need to change anything in the actual book; just a shift in how we think about it will make the idea work.
RolandItwasntmyfault wrote:After further thinking I am rather convinced that Terry himself knew that his intended joke to see an elephant which just had fled out of another reality (this one in the coronation room) is quite possible.
As you said, it was the correct priest for the coronation. Even more, Terry spends a rather big amount of time to explain that the coronation only can take place at a particular day, hour and so on. So in both realities there would be a coronation in the castle (either Keli or the duke), and, yes, possibly an elephant which later on runs away over the plains to be seen by Mort.

That's a good point about the choice of time for the coronation. That definitely would put both coronations at the same time and place. The elephant would have been in both of them, so there is no continuity error - the elephant was slightly wounded and ran out through the door and across the plains in both realities.


Rethinking... the trouble with having both coronations at the same time is that the hall was empty in the outer reality. Only the elephant was the same. However, the day was specified by the astrologer, so the day was the same but the hour wasn't specified. Cutwell chose the time. I'm now thinking that the Duke would not have wanted to risk being sprayed with the elephant's blood, which was strongly implied by the acolyte's choice of rubber apron and wading boots and a hat. So maybe the Duke decided that the sacrifice could take place at one minute past midnight and then the place could be cleaned up and the rest of the coronation could be at a more normal time of day.

Next topic: the kitten.
There's a different problem, much smaller. When Death is called out of the kitchen by the Rite of AshkEnte, he is holding a kitten. Then he grabs Albert's robe and holds onto it until they both vanish; if Death had let go, Albert could have gotten away. So that's both hands occupied - one with robe, one with kitten. Then Death snaps his fingers to make the apron vanish in flames, and then puts the kitten on the floor. Which hand did he use? Or was the kitten actually sitting on his shoulder, or clinging with claws so it didn't fall when he snapped his fingers? (Or is this a case of Time Is Not Important, and the kitten hovered in midair until Death put it on the floor?)
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