Friday, September 16, 2011

Reaper Man

I've been making my leisurely way through the Discworld series, during the past year or two.  I'd read the first few books years ago when they were first published, and recently with my children I discovered the joys of listening to Pratchett's novels read aloud, particularly the Tiffany Aching books read by Stephen Briggs, who is a phenomenal narrator.  My library doesn't own the audiobook version for many of these earlier books, so I've been purchasing them from audible.com, and they are so worth it.  My kids have listened to the Tiffany Aching books so often that they've taken to quoting from them (mainly stuff the Feegles say, which nets them some odd looks from people but always makes me laugh), so I know that in a few years they'll be loving the audio library of Discworld books that I've been gradually amassing.

At any rate, this one, Reaper Man, is the eleventh book in the series, and it features Death, one of my favorite characters, as well as some of the wizards that were introduced in earlier books.  There are two main storylines. In the first, Death, it is decided, has served his time (and gained way too much personality), and it is time for him to die and be replaced by a new Death.  Off he goes to discover life in the short amount of time he has before he will die - and suddenly things that seemed foreign to him - in particular, the desire of humans to keep on living - take on a whole, new understandable meaning.  The second storyline features the elderly wizard Windle Poons, who knows (as all wizards do) when he is going to die.  Death comes in person to collect the souls of wizards, but when Death doesn't show up, Windle cannot move on, even though he's dead.  Soon it becomes apparent that nothing is dying, and the situation gradually escalates in all sorts of interesting and delightful ways.

I really enjoyed seeing Death out of his element, so to speak, and while (as usual) much of the book is hysterically funny, there is a depth to it as well, which is why I always enjoy Pratchett's books so much.  I was reminded of my other favorite Death character, from the Sandman comic books, and how she has to live a day as a mortal every century or so, in order to really bring home the value of each life that she takes.  Windle Poons is also a delightful character, as are the others he must deal with in his quest to move on to the next phase of his existence.  I particularly loved the Death of Rats - and although my children have yet to read the "grownup" Discword books, I had them listen to the section at the end of the book about the Death of Rats - and I was glad I did.  When one of their beloved ratties died of old age a few weeks ago, we were all comforted by the thought that the Death of Rats had come to usher her soul into the great beyond.

Books in the Discworld series
1. The Color of Magic
2. The Light Fantastic
3. Equal Rites
4. Mort
5. Sourcery
6. Wyrd Sisters
7. Pyramids
8. Guards, Guards
9. Eric
10. Moving Pictures
11. Reaper Man
12. Witches Abroad
13. Small Gods
14. Lords and Ladies
15. Men at Arms
16. Soul Music
17. Interesting Times
18. Maskerade
19. Feet of Clay
20. Hogfather
21. Jingo
22. The Last Continent
23. Carpe Jugulum
24. The Fifth Elephant
25. The Truth
26. The Thief of Time
27. The Last Hero
28. Nightwatch
29. Monstrous Regiment
30. Going Postal
31. Thud
32. Making Money

33. Unseen Academicals

Reaper Man (#11 in the Discworld series) by Terry Pratchett (ISIS Audiobooks, 1999)

Also reviewed at:
A Reader's Journal:  " I enjoyed it and found myself chuckling serveral times but it didn't enthrall me like Mort did."
The Wertzone:  "The book never really seems to come together and fire up like the best books in the series, despite many individually good moments and some funny lines."

5 comments:

  1. I need to make my way through this series one of these days... I have only read a couple here and there.

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  2. This is a series that so many people love which I still haven't tried yet. I like how the Death of Rats gave comfort to your kids though. That's a nice thing.

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  3. Kailana - It is fun going through it in order, although I have read some of the later ones too. It's wonderful knowing it's there, and that there are so many book in the series - it's like visiting old friends when I pick one up.

    Janicu - I hope you'll be able to give it a try some time soon. The books get better and better as the series goes along. You don't have to start with the first one - there are mini series within the series, so to speak. I love the Tiffany Aching books, which are ostensibly for kids but adults enjoy them just as much, in my experience. The audio versions are fabulous, too. The first Tiffany Aching is called The Wee Free Men. :-)

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  4. Gah. I knew I would fall behind eventually! I have this book riding around in my car with me for emergencies. There apparently haven't been enough traffic jams or blown-out tires lately.

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  5. Kiirstin - Teehee! :-) It's actually fun that we've been going through them at about the same pace. And no traffic or flat tires is definitely a good thing!

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