Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Mort
Mort by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Discworld book is a peculiar thing in itself, and a particularly peculiar thing to try to review. Being a series about a magical disc-shaped world standing on the backs of four elephants (who themselves stand on the back of the Great A’Tuin, a gant turtle), it is not something which takes itself too seriously. And when you have a specific book about Death wanting a little help and relaxation, the seriousness drops down into negative numbers. This book is anti-serious. Simply by placing it on a coffee table next to a copy of the very serious An Inconvenient Truth can cause the Earth’s temperature to drop by three degrees.*

A book review, on the other hand, (even the poorly-written ones that I’m responsible for) is an inherently serious thing. In a book review, I’m expressing my Opinion about a piece of Art. In the very best reviews, I’m attempting to make an Argument to convince you that my Opinion is Correct. That sort of thing is incompatible with a book where Death really likes kittens and has a man-servant named Albert.

So, instead, I will merely point out that Sir Terry Pratchett has been knighted. By the Queen. For writing. So of course his books are going to be fantastic. (Yes, this book review commits an appeal to authority.) In addition, the Discworld’s Death is simply one of the finer anthropomorphic personifications in all of literature (indeed, he is one of the finer mythological entities in all of literature). In addition to being fearsome and otherwordly, he is also surprisingly human. It’s a tough thing to pull off.

I will also point out (since this is technically a review of the audiobook) that reader Nigel Planer is brilliant. I find myself slightly compulsively doing an impression of Nigel doing Mort doing an impression of Death’s smallcaps: “NO!” (only in smallcaps). It’s been much fun.

But just a great book in a great series. The only reason I’m giving this 5 stars is because I’m physically unable to give it 6.

* A side effect of my reading a Terry Pratchett book is that I start imitating his style without being able to help it; but my imitations are always particularly poor.

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