While I try my best to branch out and read new authors as often as I can, sometimes it’s important to pick up a bit of indulgence reading. Terry Pratchett is one of my very favorites. His books are the equivalent of Cheetos and Jelly Bellies, intensely flavorful and full of surprises.
Mort is no different. This book was originally published in 1987 and is the fourth in the Diskworld universe series where the world is indeed flat and supported in its journey through the universe balanced on the back of four elephants which in turn stand on an immense giant turtle. If that doesn’t give you a good feel for Pratchett’s gigantic sense of humor and intellect, I don’t know what will.
The main character, Mort, short for Mortimer but also meaning “death” in French, starts out as an awkward knobbly kneed youth and proceeds to, ironically enough, become Death’s apprentice. Death has become tired of his job and sees this as a wonderful opportunity to finally learn what life is all about. Mort, being the awkward youth that he is is tasked to collect the souls of those who have died and in the process accidentally breaks the nature of reality and time.
In order to heal the rift he has created, Mort must find a way to align reality to accept his big mistake – a process that involves finding a wizard specially suited for the job. Naturally this can’t be easy. Nothing in a Pratchett book is. Every twist and turn reveals different aspects of wonderfully complex characters and an equally complex world.
I adore Prachett’s writing style. He creates the most unexpected and delightful descriptions and then blends them into a story that flows with such ease that I can’t help but sit back in awe. He does for fantasy what Douglas Adams did for science fiction – take a normally very serious genre and fill it with wonder and humor.
The story of Mort itself is just enough unpredictable that even this seasoned story expert was kept on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what would happen next. For me, this is a real perk. With most books, even the best written ones, the story is usually straight forward enough that I can guess what’s going to happen and that’s gets boring. With Mort, that expectation gets thrown out the window in the first chapter and a world of wonderful possibilities present themselves, each equally plausible.
Many books like to explore the ideals, especially when it comes to characters. There is usually a hero, a villain, and a variety of mentors, sidekicks, and romantic interests who cross the stage of the story. Prachett has never been slave to this convention. His strength lies in making all characters as flawed and strange as possible – the more unique the better. My favorite? Death. I love that he wants to explore the world and is so helplessly naive and charming as he learns what it means to live. The whole idea just tickles me the right way.
I recommend this book to those who normally don’t enjoy fantasy, but want an introduction. The Diskworld books don’t need to be read in any particular order, but for those who need a plan of attack, I’d recommend the Diskworld Wiki to help explain the different families of books. I’d also recommend it to fans of Douglas Adams, those who like clever prose, and anyone with a pulse and a sense of excitement and adventure.
I would not recommend this book to the following – people who can’t smile, appreciate a good joke, or don’t get puns and sarcasm.
I rate this 5/5 stars for making me giggle and share random passages at my family. They still don’t know what hit them.
Psst! Jodi here. Did you enjoy today’s review? Did it help you decide if this book was for you? Cool, eh?
Guess what? You can do the same for me. If you’ve read Stonebearer’s Betrayal, head on over to Amazon, Goodreads, or the book site of your choice and leave me a review.
It doesn’t have to be big and long like this one – a few sentences is perfect! Thanks in advance!
By the way, thanks for stopping by! If you’d like to be notified of future posts, be sure to ‘subscribe’ using the handy links.
Jaleta Clegg loves telling stories ranging from aliens and spaceships to magic and unicorns to elves and airships to monsters and mayhem. Her published works include space opera with the Fall of the Altairan Empire series, steampunk fairies in Dark Dancer, and silly horror short stories. When not writing, she enjoys watching good bad movies, crocheting stuff out of yarn, and messing in the kitchen inventing new dishes.
She lives in Washington state with a diminishing horde of children, too many pets, and a very patient husband.
First, tell us a little about yourself and what originally inspired you to write your first book.
I’ve always loved storytelling, but hated writing things out by hand and all the mistakes I made with typewriters led to typing anxiety. It wasn’t until we bought our first computer, a used Commodore128 at a garage sale, that I felt free enough to really start writing. On the computer, mistakes were temporary. Rewriting was effortless. Words could just flow! Except, I had four little kids at the time. We had just moved to a new neighborhood. I needed to escape. So I escaped into my own head. I started writing. Within six months, I’d finished a fantasy trilogy rough draft, edited it, rewritten it, and was ready to move on to other things. I started a science fiction novel. Life happened. I was interrupted. But I kept pecking away at my novels, here and there, sometimes setting them aside for months, until I had eleven finished books in a series. That was when I decided to pursue publishing. So in a nutshell, my stories are my self-therapy and escape.
What is the project you are working on now and where did the idea come from?
I’m currently in the middle of a story tentatively titled Desert Lighthouse. I had this image in my head of a lighthouse in the middle of a desert. What kind of story could I tell about that? Who would build it there? And why? The questions bothered me enough that I started pulling together a story. It’s a strange one, with several different storylines that all weave together. Eventually.
I’m also working on the sequel to Dark Dancer. I loved the idea of steampunk elves and magic from the first book and wanted to go back to that world. I also realized I left a lot of the story untold and unfinished. Hopefully Winterqueen’s War will fill in a lot of the holes.
I’m also working on a series of stories set in the fictional kingdom of Merkady where the humans have died out leaving behind Humankin, animals that look almost human, and Altereds, animals that can talk and think like people but still look like the original animals. I have a few characters that want me to tell their stories – a rattlesnake fighting for equal rights for Altereds and a bunny Humankin superspy. And don’t let me forget my version of Sinbad in that world, a leopard with a walrus first mate. I can’t wait to get to his story.
I think I have a problem with too many projects going on at the same time.
What authors have inspired you, and why?
I blame Andre Norton. I discovered her books when I was young and impressionable. It amazed me that people wrote stories about aliens and space travel and magic and monsters that weren’t aimed at kids. Her books led me to others by Asimov, Zelazny, Heinlein, Jack Chalker, and others. I haunted the small science fiction section of our library until I’d read all the books they had. But I wanted more.
I found Julie Czerneda and Elizabeth Moon. These women wrote the kinds of books I wanted to write. They told stories that I loved reading. I found Terry Pratchett, Robert Asprin, Douglas Adams, and Piers Anthony and realized humor could be part of science fiction and fantasy. I found other new authors who inspired me to keep writing and pursuing publication, namely Francis Pauli and Paul Genesse. I met Brandon Sanderson and Larry Correia, who never looked down on me, a newbie author, but instead gave me kind words and friendship. I could keep going with the list of authors I love, the ones who keep me reading and keep me dreaming, but the list would just keep going.
What was your hardest scene to write?
Can a whole book count? I really struggled with Chain of Secrets, the eighth book in my series. It’s a dark point in the overall story. Dace, the main character, is struggling with everything, nothing seems to be going right. The whole book was pretty dark, but when I go back and read it again, I love it. It’s about struggling to overcome, about doing what’s right even when it might cost you your life, about dealing with loss and betrayal. It’s about becoming a better person, about being true to your innermost self. It’s also about family and the ties we choose to bind ourselves with. The emotions were powerful and very hard to deal with when I was writing. I’m a very private person, so writing those raw emotions was a lot like walking outside naked. I have a tendency to shy away from the emotions, to put distance between my character and their feelings, so in editing I have to be brutal about closing that distance. Because I know the end result will be that much stronger.
When it’s time to create something new, what is your process?
I start with a scene or a character or sometimes just a line. Then I just write until I start to see a shape to the story. At that point, I usually need to set it aside for a while to let the story ferment and develop. Once I can feel the general shape of the outline, I can write it. With some short stories, the process takes only a day or less. With some novels, I’m still waiting for the story to gel together. I have found if I try to force it, I end up with a boring mess of a story.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I finally mastered fudge! At least the marshmallow creme/chocolate chip version. It’s been my unicorn for a long time. I’d try to make fudge and end up with chocolate frosting. Or I’d make frosting and somehow end up with a layer of fudge on my cake. I recently found a recipe that works for me. Now I can turn out consistently delicious creamy fudge.
I’m also very proud of the anthologies some of my stories have landed in. I have a comedy in the Baen anthology Mission: Tomorrow about a futuristic game show, The Ultimate Space Race, which is also the name of the story. It’s told by an older couple watching the finale together on the couch. Everything is branded, sponsored, trademarked, and commercialized. Kind of a snarky look at the future, but that’s where I see it headed.
I’m also the proud author of the obligatory fart joke cthulhu story, A Brown and Dismal Horror, in the Redneck Eldritch collection. Yes, my reign as Queen of the Fart Joke is far from over.
And I recently finished an afghan that I love. Crocheting those things take hours and hours, about four seasons of the X-files worth of hours.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Yes, I really want to be Han Solo when I grow up. I want my own beat-up spaceship and my own Wookie best friend. I want to explore new worlds and have adventures. If I can’t have the Millenial Falcon, I’ll settle for Wolf’s ship, and his company, from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, one of my all-time favorite movies. Or maybe I’ll go off adventuring with Captain Jack Sparrow on the Black Pearl. Or maybe I’ll just make up more stories of adventure and pretend they’re real. That’s really why I write.
New Release from Jaleta Clegg!
Fairies, fair folk, imps, trolls, and pixies—they haunt our myths from Ireland to Iceland and everywhere else. Join in the fairy fun, or fairy fear, as good, bad, and mischievous they show themselves. Dare you take the trip to Fairyland? No one who returns is ever quite the same.
The Seligh crushed,
The captives found,
The barrier broken,
The balmorae freed.
A strange prophecy haunts the Seligh lords, rulers of the Fey and controllers of all magic in the Summerlands, a prophecy that foretells their fall.
A banished Seligh lord rules the Winterlands with an iron fist and his pets, the balmorae, patrol the borders against all intruders, guarding the secrets hidden beneath his icy lair.
A young woman rediscovers her heritage, a gift of magic and dancing that opens portals between worlds. She holds their fate in her hands. All who live within the lands of the Fey must choose where they stand—beside the Dancer or opposed to her.
And trust that she won’t destroy their world.
To connect with Jaleta, go visit her at her sites:
As part of the ever popular Discworld series, Going Postal marks the 33rd novel that takes place in the world. I love the writing of Terry Pratchett and was very happy to return to one of his novels after not having the pleasure of reading one for a long time. His passing this year was felt deeply by his adoring fans.
The book is about a con man with the unfortunate name of Moist von Lipwig, which was never a problem to him because he always used an alias. That is, until his crimes caught up with him and he was given the option of a government job or death. Being a reasonable man, he chose the job figuring that the first minute no one was watching he could slip away and return to his dishonest ways.
However, what he didn’t expect was a magical golem as a parole officer who could track him tirelessly across oceans if the need existed. He learns this the hard way when Mr. Pump hauls both him and his horse bodily back to the defunct post office where Moist has been forced to serve as Post Master.
Half the fun of the book is in the unpredictable and amazing world that Pratchett has created. This post office hasn’t delivered a piece of mail in decades and the backed up mail has been stuffed into every nook and cranny, every spare office and attic space, until immense glaciers have formed.
Moist is determined to make his new job work, but more importantly, he is determined to make a buck or two in the process.
It is a delight to read the work of a master who truly excels at his craft. Pratchett has a knack for creating terribly flawed characters who are both charming and charismatic in unexpected ways. They are not your typical heroes or villains, but real people with real issues that are often really funny.
These people are set into a fully fleshed and intriguing world where magic is real but very practical. Discworld is an amazing place and it is clear that Pratchett knows every facet of the place down to the heights of the gutters and species of birds that frequent the financial district.
Prachett is talented enough to make a whole book work with just interesting people wandering around this magical place. However, he has also created a story that is both fresh and fun. There are the dark powers behind the scenes who think they have everything under control – and they don’t. There are the businesses of the post office and the clacks towers, an equivalent of the telegraph, running neck and neck against each other, and there’s Moist who is trying to make the best of it all.
I give this book 5 stars – it is masterfully written and delightfully conceived.
The more time you spend working to become an author and to publish, the more you realize just what a big deal it is for your name to be known among the general population. Think about it, there are millions of authors out there who are published, and several million more who are working to become published.
Knowing an author’s name, even if you haven’t read them, means that they have attained a level of success that few can even dream of. Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, and Neil Gaiman, are now household names.
Terry Pratchett is one of those authors who have broken the mold among the fantasy community. Over the course of his career he has published an astounding 66 books. Forty of these books belong to the globally popular Discworld series.
What makes Pratchett’s writing unique is his firm grasp on satire and knowing just how far to push an illogical situation. Some of his most iconic images are in fact the most silly, such as the Luggage, which is described as this:
The Luggage is a large chest made of sapient pearwood (a magical, intelligent plant which is nearly extinct, impervious to magic, and only grows in a few places outside the Agatean Empire, generally on sites of very old magic). It can produce hundreds of little legs protruding from its underside and can move very fast if the need arises. It has been described as “half suitcase, half homicidal maniac” (Sourcery paperback p22).
Terry Pratchett died in his home last week after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. His courage and wit have inspired millions, including me.