Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Expertise with agricultural implements

Mort (Discworld, #4, Death, #1) I really wanted to like Terry Pratchett's Discworld fantasy series, which many friends have raved about. A brief survey identified Mort as "the best", and since it's only the fourth in the series, I didn't think it would be difficult to get to grips with the peculiarities of Pratchett's imaginary world.

When we first meet the eponymous character, he's "tall, red-haired and freckled with the sort of body that seems to be only marginally under its owner's control; it appeared to have been built out of knees." Nonetheless, the lad is taken on as an apprentice by Death. It's a sort coming-of-age story for Mort, but the book's star character is really Death.

The premise was interesting: what happens if someone interferes with fate in a world where the moment and method of one's death is fixed. And up to about half way through, I was enjoying it, but it just sort of tailed off and became tedious. Apart from Death, in the second half of the book I couldn't bring myself to care about the characters, Mort included.

Pratchett's humour and descriptions kept me reading tho': "the sort of smile that lies on sandbanks waiting for incautious swimmers", the flooding of the river "brought to the region prosperity, security and chronic arthritis", "porridge, which led a private life of its own in the depths of its saucepan and ate spoons", "shoulders hunched like vulture's wings", and Death's consideration of his own particular skill, "a certain amount of expertise with agricultural implements."

But it wasn't enough to raise my curiosity for exploring Discworld further.

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