We meet again for another Book-Week and I have a slight feeling that it won’t be the last this year.
The first book I’ve chosen to review is Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett. I have read this book some years ago during my last school years and as I said before:
What is it about?
In the Discworld everyone and everything gets an hourglass that symbolizes their lives’ time and that tells DEATH when it is time to pick them up. Some sand grains run faster, others slower and some don’t run at all. Until they do. When DEATH is confronted with his own mortality he decides to live the life he now gained by leaving his realm and offering his help on a farm as Bill Door.
With DEATH out of duty the dead people of the Discworld – amongst them former wizard Windle Poons – now have the slight problem of being un-dead or unable to pass on. While every other species creates their own version of DEATH quite fast, humans take longer and the life force that accumulates in the meantime causes quite a lot of trouble for the people of Ankh-Morpork, Windle, his fellow un-dead friends and the other wizards of the Unseen University.
The reading experience
I remember that when I first read it, I was quite captivated by it and didn’t want to stop. When I now read it again it wasn’t like that. I still enjoyed it greatly, but with some knowledge of what was going to happen still in mind and a different look on writing itself, some passages felt different to what I remember. I do believe I also laughed less at some of the jokes, but I’m not entirely sure whom to blame for that.
Pratchett has obviously his own way of writing – especially his Discworld novels – but some sentences bugged me quite a bit, though this might as well have been due to some translation mishaps.
The ideas, however, were quite interesting:
- DEATH leaves and everything that is dying leaves behind its life force that creates new things that shouldn’t actually be there.
- Unusual un-dead unite to fight for their rights.
- Trolleys hatching from Snow Globes gathering to become a Shopping Mall.
- Different versions of DEATH around the Discworld.
But so far I haven’t come across a Discworld book that wasn’t interesting to read.
DEATH is one of my favourite characters, both in the Discworld and across literature. His way of (mis)understanding the human nature and exploring it is just brilliant and at times quite hilarious. Seeing him face the weirdness of a mortal life as Bill Door (or Bill Tür as he is called in German) is also quite interesting, because he sees so many things quite different.
The Wizards are always a source for laughter and rolling of eyes, their just so quirky and weird. Their whole attitude stands quite in contrast to the second protagonist Windle Poons, who is rather reasonable for a(n un-dead) wizard. He brought a nice contrast into the chaos caused by the life force.
Though they get little screen time are all the side characters still interesting in their own way, with their own quirky stories. The shy Bogeyman Schleppel was quite great, just as the opposite werewolves Ludmilla and Lupine and the (fake) vampire couple the Winkings. As were the semi-self-conscious Troleys, who toyed with the wizards.
Pratchett just has a great way of creating rather unique characters that are quite likable soon.
Even though I roughly remembered what was going to happen, I still enjoyed this re-read.
With DEATH as main character, I cannot not like this story.
Besides that was it just interesting to read how all of them coped with their different situation (being mortal, being un-dead, being surrounded by Snow Globes, being chased by Trolleys,…).
The only down point I could see, is that at some points the story tried too much to be original, like with the crude writing on the Globes.
It also didn’t become entirely clear to me what the endgame of the Mall was and why the life force was turned into it in the first place (I know it had to go somewhere, but still…).
But it was still a fun read and I’ll probably read it again one day. 🙂
Stuff I’d like to add
If I ever get around to actually do it, I’d like to have a look at this book, Supernatural‘s Death takes a Holiday and Torchwood: Miracle Day to look at how differently they handle the concept of Death’s absence.
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