Mort (Discworld Series #4)

Mort (Discworld Series #4)

Mort (Discworld Series #4)

Mort (Discworld Series #4)

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Terry Pratchett makes Death a central character in Mort, a fabulous installment in Discworld, the fantasy cosmos where even the angel of darkness needs some assistance. 

Death comes to everyone eventually on Discworld. And now he's come to Mort with an offer the young man can't refuse. (No, literally, can't refuse since being dead isn't exactly compulsory.) Actually, it's a pretty good deal. As Death's apprentice, Mort will have free board and lodging. He'll get use of the company horse. And he won't have to take any time off for family funerals. But despite the obvious perks, young Mort is about to discover that there is a serious downside to working for the Reaper Man . . . because this perfect job can be a killer on one's love life.

Terry Pratchett's profoundly irreverent, bestselling novels have garnered him a revered position in the halls of parody next to the likes of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams, and Carl Hiaasen.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061803888
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Series: Discworld Series
Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
Format: eBook
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 6,653
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Terry Pratchett (1948–2015) is the acclaimed creator of the globally revered Discworld series. In all, he authored more than fifty bestselling books, which have sold more than one hundred million copies worldwide. His novels have been widely adapted for stage and screen, and he was the winner of multiple prizes, including the Carnegie Medal. He was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to literature in 2009, although he always wryly maintained that his greatest service to literature was to avoid writing any.

Hometown:

Salisbury, Wiltshire, England

Date of Birth:

April 28, 1948

Place of Birth:

Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, England

Education:

Four honorary degrees in literature from the universities of Portsmouth, Bristol, Bath and Warwick

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

This is the bright candlelit room where the life-timers are stored — shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past. The accumulated hiss of the falling grains makes the room roar like the sea.

This is the owner of the room, stalking through it with a preoccupied air. His name is Death.

But not any Death. This is the Death whose particular sphere of operations is, well, not a sphere at all, but the Discworld, which is flat and rides on the back of four giant elephants who stand on. the shell of the enormous star turtle Great A'Tuin, and which is bounded by a waterfall that cascades endlessly into space.

Scientists have calculated that the chance of anything so patently absurd actually existing are millions to one.

But magicians have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten.

Death clicks across the black and white tiled floor on toes of bone, muttering inside his cowl as his skeletal fingers count along the rows of busy hourglasses.

Finally he finds one that seems to satisfy him, lifts carefully from its shelf and carries it across to the nearest candle He holds it so that the light glints off it, and stares at the little point of reflected brilliance.

The steady gaze from those twinkling eye sockets encompasses the world turtle, sculling through the deeps of space, carapace scarred by comets and pitted by meteors. One day even Great A'Tuin will die, Death knows; now, that would be a challenge.

But the focus of his gaze dives onwards towards the bluegreen magnificence of the Disc itself,turning slowly under its tiny orbiting sun.

Now it curves away towards the great mountain range called the Ramtops. The Ramtops are full of deep valleys and unexpected crags and considerably more geography than they know what to do with. They have their own peculiar weather, full of shrapnel rain and whiplash winds and permanent thunderstorms. Some people say it's all because the Ramtops are the home of old, wild magic. Mind you, some people will say anything.

Death blinks, adjusts for depth of vision. Now he sees the grassy country on the turnwise slopes of the mountains.

Now he sees a particular hillside.

Now he sees a field.

Now he sees a boy, running.

Now he watches.

Now, in a voice like lead slabs being dropped on granite, he says: Yes.

There was no doubt that there was something magical in the soil of that hilly, broken area which — because of the strange tint that it gave to the local flora — was known as the octarine grass country. For example, it was one of the few places on the Disc where plants produced reannual varieties.

Reannuals are plants that grow backwards in time. You sow the seed this year and they grow last year.

Mort's family specialized in distilling the wine from reannual grapes. These were very powerful and much sought after by fortune-tellers, since of course they enabled them to see the future. The only snag was that you got the hangover the morning before, and had to drink a lot to get over it.

Reannual growers tended to be big, serious men, much given to introspection and close examination of the calendar. A fanner who neglects to sow ordinary seeds only loses the crop, whereas anyone who forgets to sow seeds of a crop that has already been harvested twelve months before risks disturbing the entire fabric of causality, not to mention acute embarrassment.

It was also acutely embarrassing to Mort's family that the youngest son was not at all serious and had about the same talent for horticulture that you would find in a dead starfish. It wasn't that he was unhelpful, but he had the kind of vague, cheerful helpfulness that serious men soon learn to dread. There was something infectious, possibly even fatal, about it. He was 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.

On this particular day it was hurtling across the high fields, waving its hands and yelling.

Mort's father and uncle watched it disconsolately from the stone wall.

"What I don't understand:' said father Lezek, "is that the birds don't even fly away. I'd fly away, if I saw it coming towards me.'

"Ah. The human body's a wonderful thing. I mean, his legs go all over the place but there's a fair turn of speed there.

Mort reached the end of a furrow An overfull woodpigeon lurched slowly out of his way.

"His heart's in the right place, mind:' said Lezek, carefully.

"Ah. 'Course, 'tis the rest of him that isn't."

"He's clean about the house. Doesn't eat much," said Lezek.

"No, I can see that.'

Lezek looked sideways at his brother, who was staring fixedly at the sky.

"I did hear you'd got a place going up at your fan% Hamesh," he said.

"Ah. Got an apprentice in, didn't IT'

"Ah," said Lezek gloomily, "when was that, then?"

"Yesterday," said his brother, lying with rattlesnake speed. "All signed and sealed. Sorry. Look, I got nothing against young Mort, see, he's as nice a boy as you could wish to meet, it's just that —"

"I know, I know," said Lezek. "He couldn't find his arse with both hands."

They stared at the distant figure. It had fallen over. Some pigeons had waddled over to inspect it.

"He's not stupid, mind," said Hamesh. "Not what you'dcall stupid ."

"There's a brain there all right:' Lezek conceded. "Sometimes he starts thinking so hard you has to hit him round the head to get his attention. His granny taught him to read, see. I reckon it overheated his mind...

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