Mort by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a previous review of Pratchett's The Color of Magic, I speculated that I might have become jaded since high school. I noted that I enjoyed that book, but it was not as hilarious as I had remembered it, initially. There will be no such danger with Mort, meaning, I probably won't be re-reading it. Again, this one was funny, but not hilarious, and more cutesy than clever.
Still, it has its moments, the best of which, I thought, was the interchange between the Sun Emperor and his Grand Vizier, a game of wits, really, and a contest in the manipulation of societal niceties to one's lethal advantage. Death's own search for what it means to be human was very funny and almost poignant, though the lure of mortal banality was idealized with a bit too much treacle.
I will give Pratchett one thing, though: he understands teenage awkwardness. I thought the book really hit its stride when Mort's unrequited love of Keli and Ysabell's growing fondness of Mort lead to a few uncomfortable moments. Again, these themes are almost emotive enough to be compelling. But Ysabell's sudden switch from being annoyed by Mort's very presence to her fawning on Mort, with no real indication of why she changed, left me feeling just a little cheated.
I'll admit it - I like Pratchett best when he's off-subject. His little asides are what make this book enjoyable. The plot line is fairly flat, with big ideas that go unrealized. But it's the little ideas that I love and that make this a book worth reading, like valuable gems in a rather ordinary diadem. I'll search out another Discworld book, maybe two, looking for those same gems. But I can't say that I'm dazzled by Discworld . . . yet.
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