Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

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Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:13 am

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Mort in some depth. If you haven’t read the book then read on at your own risk – or, better still, go and read the book and join in the fun.

For those of us that are going to join in the discussion, here are a few guidelines:

Please feel free to make comparisons to other Discworld books, making sure you identify the book and the passage you are referring to. Others may not be as familiar with the book you are referencing, so think before you post.

Sometimes we’ll need to agree to disagree – only Terry knows for sure what he was thinking when he wrote the books and individuals members may have widely different interpretations – so try to keep the discussion friendly.

We may be discussing a book that you don’t much care for – don’t be put off joining in the discussion. If you didn’t care for the book, then that in itself is a good topic for discussion.

Please note: there is no time limit to this discussion. Please feel free to add to it at any time - especially if you've just read the book.

And finally:

Please endeavour to keep the discussion on topic. If necessary I will step in and steer it back to the original topic – so no digressions please!

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Mort by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1987


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When Death decides, for reasons of his own, to take on an apprentice, he chooses young Mortimer. But Mort has got his own ideas about the fairness and justice of death and takes a human approach to saving a damsel in distress with potentially dire consequences.

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Mort is an interesting book – number 4 in the DW series and possibly the first that feels like a proper ‘Discworld’ book.

Terry takes a serious subject – humanity’s concept of Death and what comes next, and writes a satire dealing with the issues. He writes about our fears of death and even the joyful release that death can bring. He discusses the Human need to believe there is something that survives after we shuffle off this mortal coil.

I like this one and always have. But what did you think?
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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (The Last Continent)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:
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Postby DaveC » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:29 am

For me it was Equal Rites that I first rocketed through, but I agree, it is Mort that first feels like a structure has been set. Pathos, humour, mystery, action.

I have strong memories of reading this book, I may start a seperate thread on this, I was on The Downs in Bristol, (large, grassy recreational area), leaning agianst a tree on a misty, drizzly, late autumn day. I was reading the secion where Mort is standing alone in the square, waiting to be made an apprentice while my girlfriend was meditating on a bench a few metres away, it was my best reading atmosphere ever. :D

I love the scene alone with Mort and the old woman, it was the first Discworld scene where I felt very emotional after reading it.
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Postby Pearwood » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:34 am

Mort was the first of many great Discowrld books. It's hilarious and also quite moving in places.

One thing that seems a bit strange is Death getting so angry at the end - seems inconsistent with his later behaviour.
Last edited by Pearwood on Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby pip » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:41 am

Maybe he got angry because he decided it was a point he should get angry at.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:04 pm

His character has developed and his experience of humanity in this book is the catalyst for that development. He was famously unemotional until he experienced what it was like to be human. Anger is certainly out of character to the character at the start of the book - but I think it's consistent to the 'person' he becomes. :)
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Postby michelanCello » Mon Mar 07, 2011 4:37 pm

Pearwood wrote:Mort was the first of many great Discowrld books. It's hilarious and also quite moving in places.

One thing that seems a bit strange is Death getting so angry at the end - seems inconsistent with his later behaviour.

I had to read the end scene several times to get it... it was quite confusing, and sometimes I'm still not sure if I get it right even now... :?
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Postby captainmeme » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:17 pm

I remember reading Mort; it was the first Terry Pratchett book I finished (apart from the Truckers series - my dad used to read them to me when I was young) and it got me into all the others. I loved the representation of Death and the idea that he wanted some time off; it made me rethink the whole 'Grim Reaper' idea. I think Pratchett also liked this idea, as he repeats the 'time off' theme in other books. I think, though, that none of those books portray the idea as well as Mort does.
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Postby ShadowNinjaCat » Mon Mar 07, 2011 5:56 pm

How do you guys feel about the end of the book.My sister read it and said to me that she loved the book...until Death turned over the hourglass.She wanted Death to continue exploring human emotions and for Mort to become the new death.

I got my brother to read it and he liked it too,but he also would of liked a different ending :roll:.He wanted Mort to kill Keli :shock: so that everything goes back to normal and for Mort to die.

I didn't enjoy the book as much after the hourglass turned as the rest .It seemed too sudden a change that I got a little confused ,as mC said, but I still love the book. :)
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Postby Teppic » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:11 pm

michelanCello wrote:
Pearwood wrote:Mort was the first of many great Discowrld books. It's hilarious and also quite moving in places.

One thing that seems a bit strange is Death getting so angry at the end - seems inconsistent with his later behaviour.

I had to read the end scene several times to get it... it was quite confusing, and sometimes I'm still not sure if I get it right even now... :?


***Small Soul Music spoiler in this post (is this necessary mod or am I being overcautious?)***





The revisting of the duel in Soul Music either explains it or confuses it even more. Is it definite that Susan is present at the duel in Mort or does she visit it in a different dimension (or trouserleg of time) to watch; i.e. is she the reason Death turns the hour glass over in Mort and we only find this out later, or is she only responsible for him turning it over in Soul Music?
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 07, 2011 6:28 pm

I think we have to discuss that bit in Soul Music. However, while it might be clear in SM that Susan is observing the duel, it's not at all clear in Mort.

Terry has rewritten the scene. I don't believe that when he wrote Mort he was thinking - one day I'll write a book about Mort and Ysabelle's daughter and how she travels back in time and witnesses the duel.

Personally, I think that Terry wasn't happy with the ending of Mort himself and used Soul Music to try to make it work better.

The question is - did Death intend to kill Mort in the duel? Could Mort actually be killed in Death's Domain? :?
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Postby Teppic » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:55 pm

Well, here are the two relevent passages:


MORT:
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW SORRY THIS MAKES ME, he said.

Mort pulled himself on to his elbows.

'I might,' he said.

Death gave him a surprised look for several seconds, and then started to laugh. The sound bounced eerily around the room, ringing off the shelves as Death, still laughing like an earthquake in a graveyard, held Mort's own glass in front of its owner's eyes.

Mort tried to focus. He saw the last grain of sand skid down the glossy surface, teeter on the edge and then drop, tumbling in slow motion, towards the bottom. Candlelight flickered off its tiny silica facets as it spun gently downward. It landed soundlessly, throwing up a tiny crater.

The light in Death's eyes flared until it filled Mort's vision and the sound of his laughter rattled the universe.

And then Death turned the hourglass over.



SOUL MUSIC

YOU DON'T KNOW HOW SORRY THIS MAKES ME, he said.

" I might," said Mort.

Death looked up, and looked straight at Susan. His eye sockets flared blue for a moment. Susan tried to press herself into the shadows.

He looked back down at Mort for a moment, and then at Ysabell, and then back at Susan, and then back down at Mort. And laughed.

And turned the hourglass over.

And snapped his fingers.

Mort vanished, with a small 'pop' of imploding air. So did Ysabell and the others.

It was, suddenly, very quiet.
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Postby Tonyblack » Mon Mar 07, 2011 11:00 pm

Yep! A clever bit of writing. :)
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Postby Pearwood » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:38 am

As retcons go it ain't too shabby :D
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Postby rockershovel » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:07 am

I've always liked Mort. I'd agree that it's the first 'real' Discworld book, although a few details aren't quite 'there' yet - like the Wizard, who is quite different from the subsequent UU version. Mind you, UU does rather beg the question of what wizards do if they AREN'T part of the faculty.

I never though Death would kill Mort - as subsequently explained, he doesn't actually kill anyone, simply releases the souls of people who are destined to die by forced outside his control. Rincewind's life-timer is a classic example of this. However he CAN save them, at least for a time, by inverting the glass or as with Miss Flitwick, loaning her some time more correctly belonging to someone else. This seems to be related to the History Monks' apparent ability/duty to move time around to preserve historic imperatives of various sorts.

Nor did I think Mort would become the 'new' Death; as per Reaper Man, he can be replaced but not willingly and has the right of appeal, and clearly he can - under some circumstances - delegate some part of his function as he sees fit.

CoM's version of Death isn't consistent with the later character and shouldn't be regarded as such. CoM is a journeyman piece and has the inconsistencies of an incompletely realised vision, that's all.
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Postby Tonyblack » Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:20 am

The wizards are UU are a totally different breed until Ridcully arrives in Moving Pictures as can been seen in Sourcery. Vimes is reluctant to ask their help in the past in Night Watch because they seem to be much more unfriendly and approachable.

As to Cutwell - it makes sense that not all qualified wizards would stay at the University. I guess you could think of them like trainee doctors who, on passing their exams, open their own practice. :)

It's interesting to see that the duel takes place amongst the Lifetimers and how Death manages to change history more to Mort's view than what it should be with just a few well placed blows and breakages. And I don't believe Death could have killed Mort in his Domain anyway. Although he probably could if he'd destroyed Mort's lifetimer.
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