My journey through Discworld continues on. This time it was Mort’s turn. The first thought which popped into my mind was the song by Muse Thoughts of a Dying Atheist. Pratchett made with the character of Death dying bearable and not as scary. It is something that happens to all of us. But before I continue on this line of thought, I say my first and second thoughts about the book. Mort is oddly enough a lighter of Discworld novels even when it is about dying. The book concentrates more on the story than some social issue Pratchett usually writes. Not that Pratchett isn’t playing with a concept important to human existence behind his light tone.
As a book, Mort could have been stronger. (Spoilers… There were moments that felt weak and forced like with the relationship with Mort and Ysabell. Also, Ysabell didn’t feel like a fleshed out character. She had one quirk, and otherwise, she lacked personality. I didn’t find the story as engaging as it could have been. I understand where Mort’s action came from, but Death’s sudden aversion from his usual path felt peculiar. I get why he felt like he should take an absence of leave of his duties, but where was the explanation why he came to this conclusion, why did he get Mort as an apprentice (at first I thought it was to Ysabell to have company, but then he made a contradictory statement,) and why did he fight Mort? The whole fight scene felt, unlike Death. I know Pratchett was still fleshing out Death as a character, but those contradictions got to me… Spoilers end.)
You may think I didn’t like the book from all the complaining I’m doing, but that is not the case. I liked Death and Albert; I tolerated Mort and wished Ysabell to be stronger. The whole princess thing was a bit off for me, but I have never found princesses that interesting (neither princes, if you were wondering.) With more cohesion and fine-tuning, the story and characters could have been better, but as always Pratchett’s tone pulls me in, and I forget to nitpick as I read. My complaints are because of my second thoughts and after I turned on my critical thinking mode.
But back to the issue about death and dying. Pratchett made death comforting with the book. After our death, we get to go where we think we deserve to go: to an afterlife, to eternal damnation in Hell, to a happy place, or our lights go out. Okay, sometimes we don’t deserve what we ourself think we deserve (like the book pointed out). We are our own worst critic and enemy.
I think dying becomes more difficult as we are to hold our own egos in high regard. I have been thinking about death and dying a lot. That happens periodically, and I check my thoughts about the issue now and then. Once it scared me, I wasn’t willing to lose what I had, my mind, my thoughts, and my relationships. But as I read more and grow older, I think my thoughts and feelings are not significant in the grand scheme of things; that we humans are only a minor branch in the Universe. A branch that thinks too highly about themselves. We are not that important or unique. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be, but this taking our lives and deaths too seriously hasn’t brought a life we should aspire to or hold in high regard. One only has to look around and see that something went somewhere horribly wrong. Our history is full of examples of this. And we haven’t changed at all during all these years. Let us laugh at ourselves, remind ourselves that we are not perfect and can’t and won’t ever be, and let’s stop being so egomaniacal bastards to others. None of us are the center of the universe, least of all me.
Thank you Sir Terry Pratchett for making me think once again that is why I love your books and thank you reader for reading my review.