The Color of Magic and Mort—Terry Pratchett


Yet Mort, standing there looking rather embarrassed and casually sipping a liquid you could clean spoons with, seemed to emit a particularly potent sort of solidness, an extra dimension of realness. His hair was more hairy, his clothes more clothy, his boots the epitome of bootness. (Mort, 118)

If you haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's books, you are seriously missing out. The first one I read was actually a jointly authored book (written in partnership with Neil Gaiman, another personal favourite) entitled Good Omens.

Pratchett's books are always artfully constructed. I have read books from two of his series: several books from the Discworld series, and a book from the Tiffany Aching series. The latter is specifically written as a young adult series, but Pratchett's humor loses nothing as a result. Both The Color of Magic and Mort are part of the Discworld series.

The Discworld series, as described on Pratchett's website,

"...well, it's like this. If you started watching Star Trek halfway through the series you probably wondered why one guy had pointy ears. But since you liked what you saw, you probably let the question ride for now and just got on with enjoying the show. Discworld is like that. There are mini-series within the series (the "witches" books, the "City Watch" books, the "Death" books --) and there are one or two big story arcs, but generally the books are written to be accessible at any point to anyone with a nodding acquaintanceship with the fantasy genre. Or even with real life." (http://www.terrypratchettbooks.com/discworld/)
I can personally vouch for this. I have read several of the Discworld series without considering the chronological order. At some point, it might be interesting to re-read them in chronological order and see if there are things that I understand more, or inside jokes that I didn't get before.

The Color of Magic is the first in the Discworld series. We are introduced to Rincewind, a wizard who is not much of one. He is hired by a visitor from elsewhere in the Discworld, Twoflower, to guide him around Ankh-Morpork. Twoflower seems to have quite a skewed, romantic idea of what Ankh-Morpork should be like, but for Rincewind, his oddities are balanced by a vast supply of solid gold coins. The two travelers are joined by Twoflower's Luggage (yes, capital L, Luggage) and they cut quite a large swath across the twin cities.

Mort is a gangly teenager whose family is unsure what to make of him. He's not particularly helpful on their farm, so an uncle suggests that Mort's father take him to the village and try to find him an apprenticeship. It seems Mort is not exactly a pearl in anybody's eyes; none of the village professionals want to have him as an apprentice, not even the thieves and beggars. Finally, Death comes along and provides Mort with an opportunity. Mort learns about Death's trade, meets his daughter Ysabell, and becomes more and more like Him.

I greatly enjoyed both of these books, as I seem to enjoy all things Pratchett. He's brilliant with words, and hilarious to boot. His writing reminds me a great deal of Piers Anthony, another author who writes about a world strangely similar to our own. You should check both of them out.

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