Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

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Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:58 pm

**Warning**

This thread is for discussing Reaper Man 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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Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett
Originally published 1991

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Introduction

Death finds that his services are no longer required. It’s all the fault of those awful Auditors. They give him the equivalent of a gold watch and send him on his way. But what will happen to the Discworld without death? Well for one thing, all that life force is producing some pretty strange results.

One of the first to find out is old Windle Poons, who, at 130 years old, is looking forward to dying. Imagine his surprise and annoyance when he becomes a zombie instead.

Meanwhile Death finds the only thing that the Grim Reaper is qualified to do is to become a Reaper Man.



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I always enjoy reading this book and for many years it was one of my favourites. I really enjoyed this reread and rediscovering such a good story.

I love the way the two stories go along side by side, but never really meet. Have you noticed that Bill Door’s story is in a slightly different font? At least it is in the UK version of the book. The serifs are much lighter than in the story about Windle, the Fresh Start Club and the Faculty, of course.

Talking of the Faculty – they only really started to take shape in Moving Pictures, and yet here they are fully formed. Reg Shoe and the Fresh Start Club are delightful as is Mrs. Cake and her famous precognition.

And then we have the wonderful story of Bill Door and Renata Flitworth. Death really gains a lot of humanity in this one that he keeps through the rest of the books.

But what do you think? :)

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Want to write the introduction for the next discussion (Lords and Ladies)? PM me and let me know if you’d like to – first come first served. :wink:

Edit to add - too late! Someone (Jan) has just volunteered. :clap:
"Goodness is about what you do. Not what you pray to."
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby swreader » Mon Jan 02, 2012 9:42 pm

Reaper Man has long been a favorite of mine--ever since I first read it. I think that it's the first book where Terry really hits his stride, although in many ways it is not all that typical. This is not only about DEATH and his threatened extermination, the first appearance of the auditors,but also it's the first and only time that DEATH is in love and gains some understanding of humanity through his time as Bill Door. And that doesn't even begin to touch the hilarious adventures of Windle Poons, the excessive life force, the threat to the city from the predatory mall creature. It's one of the few wizard books that I thoroughly enjoyed (probably because the wizards are fresh and new here). And they seem to make more sense--even on re-reading--than they do in later books.

One question for discussion--why does Terry create The Death of Rats in the book? He (and the Death of Fleas--who appears only in one place in this book & only in this book) is a marvellous creation--but why (at this time in his writing) did Terry decide to create such a character. Granted, he plays a continued, important role in the books--especially those with Susan. But they were far in the future at the time Terry was writing this.

Another interesting point is that Vetinari, while concerned about the excess life force and the problems it is causing in his city, seems not to have had any role in the threat represented by the predator "mall", even though he has one of the "seeds" on his desk and he certainly had to be aware of it. My answer is that Vetinari is too serious a character to get involved with the notably bizarre activities of the undead, the wizards, the metal baskets, the queen, etc. - and his inclusion would spoil the outrageous fun of their saving the city.

There's lots to enjoy in this book, and a good deal that can lead to discussion, once everybody gets over New Year's and the holiday season. :text-happynewyear:

Hope to see more of you commenting soon. :techie-ebay:
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:47 pm

No arguments at all over the Faculty - they are brilliant in this one and Windle Poons is just bloody superb, but I did find the Death of Cities strand a little tiresome and pointless in the end. But maybe that was the point as shopping malls frequently make me lose the will to live, so I suppose that answers that one :lol:

Windle's a great 'one-off' Discworld hero though - I certainly love the whole idea of undead people being able to think a lot more clearly without glands and pheromones about to distract them or copious and faulty memories to weigh them down. Also it's fore-shadowing events to come in real life to some degree perhaps where Death restores Windle's personal faculties after being fuddled with age for so many decades... :?
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Mattvwj » Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:13 am

I Adore this book, If i remember rightly, it was the first Discworld book i read, so it really has some fond memories for me and put me onto the long road of reading all the death books!

The best bits in this book, in my opinion, are the bits set around death himself and the village, which is a brilliant representation of a small rural village! The auditors are, as always, a fun inclusion, and Azrael is a brilliant, if not widely explored, concept as well.

Also just to reply to Swreader, i think the introduction of the Death of Rats was more of a way to show that Death had become slightly more Humanized, and that he welcomed the presence of someone (something?) that was similar to himself, and terry probably decided to expand on his character later on when the opportunity arose! Of course, I may be totally wrong! :D
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:11 pm

Anybody else?

Some good points so far - but I can't believe that only four people have read it. :lol:
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby michelanCello » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:07 pm

I really liked Reaper Man. It was a totally different experience, though, compared to the other Discworld books I've read up until then: it's much darker and it has a certain sadness about it all the time, even though it made me laugh out loud at some points.
I was especially touched at the end, when it's time for Death to take Miss Flitworth with him... It's so sad, yet it's adorable, the effort he makes with the chocolate and gifts :)
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Sjoerd3000 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:51 pm

I still haven't read the book in English :oops:
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby raisindot » Thu Jan 05, 2012 5:51 pm

I loved the Death/Village story. Some of Pterry's most poignant writing.

Absolutely hated the wizards/shopping mall thing. That's one reason I've never read it a second time. I suppose I could skip those sections, but it'd be like reading half a book.
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Teppic » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:31 pm

raisindot wrote:I loved the Death/Village story. Some of Pterry's most poignant writing.

Absolutely hated the wizards/shopping mall thing. That's one reason I've never read it a second time. I suppose I could skip those sections, but it'd be like reading half a book.


Couldn't agree more!

The Wizards storyline was great when Windle Poons was the focus - what a great character. The Fresh Start club, his trying so hard to die with the help of the other Wizards was really funny and had a point to it. The idea of excessive life-force in the universe was interesting and I thought might have funnier and more interesting implications than sapient shopping malls. As soon as the compost heap came alive and started chasing everyone, the snowglobes turned in shopping trolleys and a Shopping Mall descended on AM I completely failed to be interested in it.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that the petering off of this storyline into realms where it's neither funny nor believable is the reason I nominated this my least favourite DW novel.

I thought the Death storyline, in the little village on the other hand, was touching and very well crafted. The humanisation of Death in this book is really well-done and compassion wins out over all else - he saves a life, sees off the compassionless Death, and gives Mrs Flitworth a dignified death - oh, that was inadvertant, but how strange that I used that phrase.

WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Thu Jan 05, 2012 9:43 pm

I struggled for a long time to work out what was going on with the 'mall' lifeform and eventually came to the conclusion that it's Terry being satirical about out-of-town shopping centres that effectively kill off city or town centre shopping. This is a problem that Cardiff suffered from a few years ago.

I also thought there was quite a lot of parody in there of such movies as Aliens. ;)
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Teppic » Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:19 pm

Perhaps it hasn't aged as well as some other DW books in that case? Perhaps it's more "of its time" than other DW novels, touching on issues that were hot-topics then, but a bit old-hat now. And switching it around, I wonder if that's why I enjoyed Making Money more than a lot of people here who maybe read it as soon as it came out. I read that post credit-crunch and it seemed to resonate very strongly. A bit serendipitous that, unless TP was the only person in the world to see the banking crisis coming!

I'd be interested to know who read Reaper Man when it was first published? And did the mall subplot resonate strongly at the time - perhaps more strongly than it does now?
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby rockershovel » Sun Jan 08, 2012 6:46 pm

I've always been ambivalent about Reaper Man, like several of TP's books it rather gives the impression of being created from two largely unrelated short stories or novellas combined for the sake of making a single book of the required length.

I do like the parts about Death and Miss Flitworth. It's interesting to see the Faculty in their first outing as a group. The Death Of Rats is an interesting idea and a necessary link to later Susan material, along with Quoth.

ON the other hand the Windle Poons and shopping mall parts don't work for me, and the Faculty's "solution" seems a non-sequitur.

So, 7/10 at best and I only re-read it in sections, flicking past the "Death of Cities" parts.
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby meerkat » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:18 pm

Reper Man can make me cry. I think this is down to the relationship he has with Renata Flitworth. It is his initiation into being human and he feels it deeply. The bit that sticks out for me is the "Where did those six hours go?" when he falls alseep. The puzzlement of what happened to time when he closed his eyes (if he did) I thought, was touching.

Loved Windle Poons! a super character that was a shame to see go so early. After all, if there is a Reg Shoe, there could be a Windle Poons too!

The shopping Mall bit finally hit home after several reads. It is just like losing your High Street and getting a non descript box full of the 'same' shops all luring you in with soft music, moving staircases, and very little else (i.e.Reading's the Oracle).

I am So glad that Death and Renata had a bit of a shindig before she got to be with her beloved and what a hoot to have the hint towards the Lone Ranger (Who was that masked man?).
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Tonyblack » Sun Jan 08, 2012 8:45 pm

Yes, Death was never the same again after this book. The Auditors were concerned that he was becoming too human, and yet this experience made him more human. He's very different from the Death in Light Fantastic and this book went quite some way to making him such a lovable character. :)

One of the most touching things was the field of corn he created in his Domain. I think it's mentioned in a later book, which makes it even more touching.
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Re: Reaper Man Discussion **Spoilers**

Postby Teppic » Sun Jan 08, 2012 11:12 pm

meerkat wrote:Reper Man can make me cry. I think this is down to the relationship he has with Renata Flitworth. It is his initiation into being human and he feels it deeply. The bit that sticks out for me is the "Where did those six hours go?" when he falls alseep. The puzzlement of what happened to time when he closed his eyes (if he did) I thought, was touching.


Oh yes, I'd forgotten about that bit, very good writing. And when he's watching the little clock in Mrs Flitworth's house of course. He can't rationalise how humans live with time and measure it when they're mortal. It's such a stunningly creative story that one as well as being funny and touching.

All of which just makes the Shopping Mall business all the more annoying. :cry:
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