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_Reaper Man:_ Death changes careers, Discworld sinks into Chaos
Mar 25, 2012 (Updated Oct 2, 2013)
by Rebecca Huston
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Death, as always. A sequence that made me cry for the loveliness of it.
The Bottom Line: For those who enjoy the character of Death in the Discworld novels, this is a treat of a novel.
With Terry Pratchett's ongoing Discworld novels, I am trying to take my time and savour each entry as I would an exquisitly prepared meal. Each book in the series reveals a new twist, or a scrap of history of a fantasy world that mirrors our own in many uncanny ways.
Recommend this product?
This time, Death returns in starring role when the Oversight Commitee of the multiverse decides that his job is redundant, and he's forced into early retirement. As with most committees, these grey creatures have many limbs and many mouths, but very little brain. Death, who now knows that he is mortal, and there's not a lot of time left, so he is determined to make the very most of it all. At least they've let him keep Binky, his steed, to accompany him into his new life.
Naturally, he becomes a worker on a farm, recreating himself as Bill Door. The land belongs to Miss Flitworth, a woman of more than middle age, who lives alone and needs someone to take on the heavier work on the farm. The harvest is about to come in, and Death takes to it like a natural. He also finds out about what it means to actually feel emotions and sensations, and makes a few cautious friends. It seems that no one really wants to spend much time around him, but that doesn't bother Bill/Death too much.
But it appears that more omnious things are starting to happen in Ankh-Morpork. One of the special duties of Death is to collect the souls of wizards in person, and one of the denizens of the Unseen University is about to reach that moment in his life. Windle Poons, having reached the immense age of a hundred and thirty, is having a grand send off from his fellow wizards with a farewell party. But something not quite right is happening -- screws holding things are detatching themselves, a chandelier comes crashing down, and odd little balls filled with floaty things have started to appear around the city. And while Windle certainly dies, he doesn't completely die, leaving him in the questionable state of being undead...
Along the way, we get to meet Mrs. Cake, a medium of not inconsiderable talent and bane of religion everywhere she goes; a collection of undead in a self-help group; Ludmilla, a young woman with a very troublesome identity problem, and a young would-be inventor who builds a contraption that might possibly change everything...
Well, this was a rip-roaring adventure. I've gotten rather fond of Death from previous books in the series, what with his dry wit and acerbic observations on life, and this book just confirmed this for me. I also had a delight with Miss Flitworth, a not-too-thinly disguised variation on a character to be found in Dickens. The final bits of Death's 'life' -- if it can be called that -- are both terrifying and in one section, bittersweet and romantic.
With the other major plot, there are wild moments indeed. The best part is a brawl between wizards and priests in the halls of the Patrician's Palace; and the ever increasing trolleys that are appearing in the city, and the out of the control events that all lead up to some pretty impressive events.
Of course, this being Pratchett, there are some bitingly funny moments and outright satire, all of which is great fun, and I found myself laughing out loud. I don't find that in (or out) a lot of books these days, and there are days when a good belly laugh is the best thing around. But there are some pointed insights here, and quite a few questions that will make you think, which is always good.
Fans of the series will have a grand time with this entry in the series, and it is one that scored a four and a half star rating, which is rounded up to a five.
Very much recommended.
Discworld Novels that I have reviewed:
The Color of Magic
The Light Fantastic
Reaper Man -- you are here
Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms
Feet of Clay
The Last Continent
The Fifth Elephant
1991; HarperCollins Publishers
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