Mort by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mort (first published 1987) is the first Death novel in Terry Pratchett's discworld series. The book follows Mort, a youth consisting mostly of elbows and knees whom his parents send to seek apprenticeship. None of the regular people want him, but just when he is about to give up, Death enters the scene. His offer is reasonable, especially for a boy like Mort, who is eager to learn the secrets of the universe.
Death takes him shopping in the big city before they settle down at his realm outside of time. There, Mort meets Albert, Death's faithful servant, and Ysabell, Death's daughter (adopted). They don't get along all that well, like teenagers of opposed sexes often do, but Mort is busy taking care of Binky, the horse, and accompanying Death on Duty anyway.
When Death decides to take a few days off, it's Mort's turn to take care of the Duty, and he massively fails when confronted with a beautiful princess and her assassin. He kills the assassin instead of letting the girl die, causing reality to break apart, while Death is busy learning how to be more human and less anthropomorphic personification. With only Ysabell and maybe Albert as support, Mort has to decide if and how to make up for his mistake.
I've long been a fan of the Death of the discworld and therefore enjoyed reading Mort immensely. The story is filled with interesting characters like the princess Keli, a young wizard called Cutwell, and of course Death, Albert, Ysabell and Mort himself. Guest stars, by the way, include the wizard Rincewind and the librarian of Unseen University.
The novel offers an appealing storyline, throughout which we can watch Mort - and partly also Ysabell - grow up. It ends in a furious battle of life and death between Mort and Death, but the outcome will of course not be revealed here. Let me just say that it came as a surprise, but at the same time didn't surprise me at all.
If you are a fan of humorous fantasy stories flavoured with a young love story, you could definitely read this book and not be disappointed.
There is one thing, though, caused by the British Books Challenge 2012 and my goal to read all discworld novels, that is starting to annoy me. In Mort alone were at least three mentions of the slow light of the discworld. This was also mentioned in all previous books, and I really, really want to say "Yes, I know, stop telling me!" So, maybe it's a good thing I'm having an unplanned hiatus at the moment, reading K.J. Bennett's Pike's Quest, which I got for free last week. Since the author is British, expect a review of that next!