Mort Discussion *Spoilers*

Moderators: Jason, Toothy, Tonyblack

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:35 pm

Some people would kill for a full English fry-up for breakfast every day :lol:

Interesting point about Albert though - he's a much nicer person (in general except when somebody's mucking up his cushy number) living in Death's domain

Pollyanna Heidi van Quirm Image
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
User avatar
Jan Van Quirm
Member
 
Posts: 10618
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:07 pm
Location: Dunheved, Kernow

Postby Poohcarrots » Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:44 pm

That bloody "cute" smilie! :shock: :twisted:
"Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. - Pyramids- 1989 British Fantasy Award (Best Novel)
User avatar
Poohcarrots
Member
 
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:48 am

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:07 pm

Poohcarrots wrote:
Tonyblack wrote:He's hardly 'living' now though, is he?


In retrospect Tony, your comment sounds like something Glenn Beck would say. :shock:

Albert has a roof over his head, an easy job for life, as much food as he wants, as much tobacco as he wants and no money worries. He has everything Rincewind aspires to.

How many people in the world would give their right arm for all that?
Yes, but he's been doing it for thousands of years! Sooner or later the world will end and he'll have to face whatever is waiting for him.

He's almost made a prisoner of himself. He's been living with Death long enough to realise that people get what they deserve when they die. As Mort points out: (paraphrasing because I can't find the passage) 'So a bad person who believes he's going to heaven, will and a good person who believes he's going to hell will also get what they believe.'

Albert seems to believe that he deserves punishment and that's what he'll eventually get.

I don't buy the idea that he's content to spend thousands of years in utter drudgery. And why would Death have let him stay there anyway? :?
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 29207
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Poohcarrots » Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:47 pm

Surely Albert has found the philosophers stone, life everlasting, what everyone on Earth wants, and what Christianity claims it can deliver. How he chooses to spend eternity is up to him.

Maybe for him, he's in heaven. Do people get bored in heaven?

Death lets him stay because Death needs company. Death has taken on some human traits, one being, he doesn't want to be alone. Same reason for the Death of rats. Same reason he adopted Ysabelle, hired Mort and loves his grand-daughter Susan. :D
"Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. - Pyramids- 1989 British Fantasy Award (Best Novel)
User avatar
Poohcarrots
Member
 
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:48 am

Postby swreader » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:12 am

While I think that most of what you've been saying, Pooh, is utter nonsense and unnecessarily offensive to Tony -- that's not the way discussions are supposed to work-- but you have the happy capability of ignoring what the book (and other people) actually say! :P

Mort gets DEATH to confirm what he's discovered-- that there is no justice, there is just "them". And the concomitant of that is that evil people who believe (through some delusion) that they have been living a good life will get the reward they think they deserve. By that theory, Hitler is in an all Aryan Heaven. But good people who are aware of all the things they haven't done that they should have, who believe they deserve to be punished, will endure punnishment.

This is one of the ways we see this as an early book of Terry's. The serious thought and analysis just aren't here. And far too much is made simply for a comc moment. For example, Mort is chosen (I think) in part because he comes from an area where raw magic is still very strong (as his father harvests the grapes he will plant next year). Someone with this kind of connection to power might be an appropriate person to perform death's job. But to the extent that Terry makes him look foolish, the plot doesn't work. Death doesn't understand humans--but even he's not so unrealistic as to fail to recognize that MORT has become DEATH.
And that it is only the fact that Isabel keeps hold of Mort that keeps him from supplanting Death in that role.

That's one of the reasons I find this book interesting, but quite frustrating. The plot and depth I have come to expect from Terry's later books are tantalizingly present, but not nearly enough.
User avatar
swreader
Member
 
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:39 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

Postby swreader » Sat Mar 12, 2011 5:55 am

To start a different discussion--why is Mort somewhat in love with the Princess Kelli--at least enough so that he wants, in part, to save her from the death she's scheduled to have?

At the beginning of the book Ysabell treats Mort like dirt (horse manure in fact). Not that he's treated much better by either Albert or DEATH, but they just tend to forget about him or why Ysabell's father (adopted) brought Mort to his Kingdom. Mort seems to fall for Keli when he accompanies DEATH the first time. It is then that he is first introduced to the concept of DEATH'S philosophy, which is WHEN IT'S TIME, IT'S TIME. FAIR DOESN'T COME INTO IT. And from that one glance (strangers across a crowded room) he thinks he's fallen in love with her

Terry turns a neat trick because Mort doesn't know who the third person whose "soul" he is to collect is until just as he arrives at the castle. And it's not entirely clear that he intended to kill the assassin or to save her life. But it's Isabel who tells him that he's suffering from "unrequited love".

So my question is--how do these two women function in the book? and why does Mort marry Ysabell?
User avatar
swreader
Member
 
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:39 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:02 am

Poohcarrots wrote:Surely Albert has found the philosophers stone, life everlasting, what everyone on Earth wants, and what Christianity claims it can deliver. How he chooses to spend eternity is up to him.

Maybe for him, he's in heaven. Do people get bored in heaven?

Death lets him stay because Death needs company. Death has taken on some human traits, one being, he doesn't want to be alone. Same reason for the Death of rats. Same reason he adopted Ysabelle, hired Mort and loves his grand-daughter Susan. :D
Sorry I don't agree. You could say that people in prison have most of what Albert has got and at least most of them can look forward to leaving one day.

As to my comment about Albert not really living (and I have no idea why you should think that makes me sound like Glenn [expletive deleted] Beck. Take a look at this section of the book when Albert is bossing the wizards at UU around:

Albert strutted along the row, poking the occasional paunch with his staff. His mind danced and sang. Go back? Never! This was power, this was living: he'd challenge old boniface and spit in his empty eye.


This is hardly someone who is happy with his lot in Death's Domain. It speaks more to me of someone who has been so afraid of what death holds for him, that he's been hiding from it for 2000 years.

Death didn't need companionship and he certainly didn't need a manservant. What exactly does Albert actually do for Death as a manservant anyhow?

The one thing that having Albert around does do is makes Death curious about the humans that he harvests. In another book Terry points out that rat catchers will often become fascinated by rats.

The house that Death lives in along with everything in it seem to have been created for the humans that live there rather than Death himself. It's unclear why Death adopted Ysabell - although it's possible that left without parents in the Great Nef, she'd have probably died. I think he saved her more out of curiosity than anything.

This is the book where Death really goes further with his fascination than he has ever gone before. The difference is that rather than just getting Mort to live with him, he actually gets Mort to do his job and that causes them to swap roles.

Death becomes more human and Mort becomes more Death-like.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 29207
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby rockershovel » Sat Mar 12, 2011 7:17 am

It might be relevant at this point to consider that Death is unique among his "household" in that Mort, Ysabell and Albert all have, or had at one point, independent existences in their own right. Death doesn't, he is an anthropomorphic embodiment of belief; in Reaper Man, the new Death appears without his contribution or knowledge, as do the various Deaths of Animals.

Nor does he control the Lifetimers, only follow them; and since they appear to exist as fragile, corporate items ( he doesn't make them ) they must need to be kept somewhere. There are the biographies, writing themselves on endless library shelves; again he doesn't appear to be anything other than the guardian of these. He also appears to have administrative duties ( the "Nodes" ) although these aren't shown in detail, so he must need some sort of office or workspace. He has a horse, and that horse has a stable.

So his anthropomorphic personification must include the various functions he carries out, ie "Death's Domain" is actually an integral part of his being.
rockershovel
Member
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

Postby Poohcarrots » Sat Mar 12, 2011 12:58 pm

Tonyblack wrote:I don't buy the idea that he's content to spend thousands of years in utter drudgery. :?

Tonyblack wrote:
Poohcarrots wrote:Surely Albert has found the philosophers stone, life everlasting, what everyone on Earth wants, and what Christianity claims it can deliver. How he chooses to spend eternity is up to him.

Maybe for him, he's in heaven. Do people get bored in heaven?

:D
Sorry I don't agree. You could say that people in prison have most of what Albert has got and at least most of them can look forward to leaving one day.

Oh? :shock: Why ever not? It's written down in black and white that he's happy, isn't it? 8)

Discworld Companion wrote:(in Death's house there is) a sort of endlessly recycled day.
It seems, however, that this entirely suits someone like Albert. Endless days filled with the same routine are something that makes a University wizard feel entirely at home. And he is, after all, a heirarchical creature. Wizards usually are.


So SW, did YOU actually do any reading before you decided to go off on another of your Pooh-bashing tirades? :shock:
Before you criticise me unfairly again, please don't say I'm talking nonsense before you actually check to see if I am or not. :roll:
"Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. - Pyramids- 1989 British Fantasy Award (Best Novel)
User avatar
Poohcarrots
Member
 
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:48 am

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Mar 12, 2011 2:10 pm

It might 'suit' him but that doesn't mean that he's happy with it. Hence the comment (in black and white no less) about him not going back and challenging Death (who I assume is "old boniface").

He was once the most powerful wizard in existence - he's afraid to day and so he's in hiding. Presumably, one day the Disc will end and then he won't be able to hide any more.

But this is, I think, really about a man at the end of his life, worrying about what comes next as opposed to Ysabell who still has her life ahead of her but has been stuck at the age of sixteen for such a long time.
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 29207
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby Poohcarrots » Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:53 am

Tonyblack wrote:
Albert strutted along the row, poking the occasional paunch with his staff. His mind danced and sang. Go back? Never! This was power, this was living: he'd challenge old boniface and spit in his empty eye.

Ever heard the phrase, "Drunk with power?" He wouldn't have challenged old boniface and spat in his eye, because at heart he's a coward, who's only wish is to be immortal because he's afraid of dying. That's why he's in Death's Domain. He wanted to be immortal, so he did the Rite of Ashkente backwards and ended up with Death. :P

From having zero power to suddenly having loads of power, it went to his head - pure and simple. Exactly the same as in Sourcery when all the wizards got some power and it went to their heads. :D

Once again TP is pointing out that power corrupts.
"Hear a speech declaring a holy war and, I assure you, your ears should catch the clink of evil's scales and the dragging of its monstrous tail over the purity of the language. - Pyramids- 1989 British Fantasy Award (Best Novel)
User avatar
Poohcarrots
Member
 
Posts: 155
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:48 am

Postby swreader » Mon Mar 14, 2011 5:42 am

Albret (aka Alberto Malich) is an interesting character but he also reveals one of the questions and/ problems which Pratchett has with the character of DEATH.

In approximately 1289 (city time) Alberto M., who was both the most powerful magician and founder of the University, but also a man who has been corrupted by his absolute power, attempted to avoid Death by performing the Rite of Ashkente backwards. He thought this would give him another 67 years of life. Instead it catapulted him not to the Dungeon Dimensions but to DEATH's Realm where time does not pass normally. Instead there is "a sort of endlessly recycled day."* Apparently, his fear is so great that this days filled with the same routine is preferable to what he fears. But it turns out that he fears MORT even more than Death (or DEATH) and so manages to return to the University to try to find his master by performing the rite again. He does not expect that this will land him back in Death's Domain, but he is trapped in the circle with DEATH and prevented from exercising his old powers.

But the real question which has troubled me especially with this book is why did DEATH permit Albert to stay in the first place? At the time Albert appeared there (almost 2000 years ago) Death had not adopted Ysabell nor shown the interest in humanity that is demonstrated throughout all the books, but especially in Reaper Man.

Would DEATH have ever become as involved with humanity if he had not had Albert around? None of the other horsemen, for example, have developed such a keen interest in humanity although they have some human attributes.

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
User avatar
swreader
Member
 
Posts: 807
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:39 pm
Location: Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.

Postby rockershovel » Mon Mar 14, 2011 6:55 am

there are various unresolved problems here.

I think it's probably because Death cannot destroy members of his circle, as it were. There are many Deaths ( Death doesn't appear to operate beyond DW, and there are a whole series of Deaths-of-Animals which appear in the course of Reaper Man ). There is also a new death who appears without his consent or input during that book, who he fights; it's important that the New Death does not kill Death-as Bill-Door when he has the opportunity.

My reading of this has always been that Death functions as a God in this respect; he can absorb the Deaths-of-Animals back into himself by acting as a focus of the belief which animates them, allowing Death of Rats to remain at his discretion. He destroys the New Death by resuming his former role, which is a closer representation of what people believe and/or wish for and hence more powerful; New Death simply disappears in a wisp of smoke, he does not die in a corporate sense, leaving a body, simply a crown which Death opts not to wear.

This possibly doesn't apply to those who force their way into his circle. Mort, Ysabell or Susan would ( presumably ) leave a body, having a corporate existence of their own. It's fairly clear that although Death doesn't allow Mort to die within his Domain, he DOES allow Mort and Ysabell to return to their pre-ordained deaths within the ordinary mortal world. Likewise, Albert doesn't arrive by Death's consent, but by his own actions. It's unclear what Death's options are, in this respect.

Since it's made clear that the the visible manifestations of Death's Domain are of his making ( the cornfield, for example ) and don't conform to normal physics ( such as the variable perspective and dimensions of the interior ) it may well be that having a solid corpse which is not under his control ( and there is nothing anywhere to indicate that he can do anything with a body that any human couldn't do ).

Hence Death tolerates Albert, Mort and Ysabell because having ( willingly or unwillingly ) admitted them, he doesn't actually have much discretion and must await for things to resolve themselves, as he knows they will.
rockershovel
Member
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

Postby Tonyblack » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:32 pm

So why does Death choose Mort?
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
User avatar
Tonyblack
Moderator
 
Posts: 29207
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 4:29 pm
Location: Cardiff, Wales

Postby rockershovel » Sat Mar 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Tonyblack wrote:So why does Death choose Mort?


the short answer would be, because the plot requires it and the canon as at that time doesn't provide any reason why he shouldn't.

"Mort" is an early book and has a number of plot devices which are subsequently discarded because they don't really serve in the longer term. I don't believe TP would write it now, because it doesn't fit. It's just one of those things.
rockershovel
Member
 
Posts: 142
Joined: Tue Feb 08, 2011 11:25 am

PreviousNext

Return to Discworld novels

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests