Reaper Man (Discworld Novel 11)

by Terry Pratchett | Science Fiction & Fantasy |
ISBN: 0552134643 Global Overview for this book
Registered by erinacea of Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on 8/16/2015
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by erinacea from Friedrichshain, Berlin Germany on Sunday, August 16, 2015
Yet another book reading as a part of the Mark reads Discworld reading project.

Like Guards! Guards!, I'd read the book before but opted to buy a copy anyway.

The book didn't leave a great impression when I first read the German translation but it's been growing on me ever since. With this reread, it was even a strong contender for first place (of the DW books covered so far), though Guards! Guards! won out in the end:

1. Guards! Guards!
2. Reaper Man
3. Wyrd Sisters
4. Mort
-------- (imaginary line splitting favs from non-favs)
5. Moving Pictures
6. Sourcery
7. Equal Rites
8. The Light Fantastic
9. Pyramids
10. Eric

The story:
When the Auditors of reality fire the Discworld Death for having developed a personality, they don't take into account the chaos that'll result on the Discworld from things no longer ending.

The book takes Death being fired as a starting point to two stories told in parallel that have very little to do with each other (they're even set in different fonts) and only reconnect at the very end.

One story follows the lifeexperience of the geriatric wizard Windle Poons, who was introduced in the previous book. When Windle dies and no one arrives to collect his soul, he decides to return to his body as a zombie. His wizard colleagues are not at all exalted about this development. Meanwhile, the pent-up life force starts taking over Ankh-Morpork. While the wizards are ineffectually busy discussing strategies of getting rid of all the living things that shouldn't be, Windle joins a group of undead misfits who take it upon themselves to save the city.

The other story follows Death who decides to live out his remaining days as humble Bill Door, employed by elderly Miss Flitworth to bring in the harvest. For the first time in his lifeexistence, Death gets to experience the comradeship among humans and people caring for him without the usual reservation.
When Death first learns about his impending end, he reacts with calm, even relief. Yet as he gets used to being alive, he grows more and more agitated as his time is running out.

Spoilers, highlight with cursor to make visible Still, what propels him to fight the New Death in the end is not his own fear of dying but his realization of what having an uncaring, even cruel Death would mean to every single living person.

In the end, both Windle Poons and Death are changed by their new experiences. When Windle's death eventually takes place, he dies knowing he made a difference and much happier than he'd been at his Death Day's party. Death, upon returning to his grim house, brings with him an appreciation of the beauty and fickleness of life, which is symbolized by the flowing fields of golden corn he creates on the black-tinged estate, and becomes clear in his decision to keep the Death of Rats as company rather than reabsorb that part of his identity.

I found this book extremely insightful, dealing not just with the theme of life and death in general, but also examining in detail what it means to be mortal, to be human. Reading this book so soon after Pratchett's own passing adds another layer to his description of how people deal will the knowledge that all life must end, and how they keep going on anyway.

Next: Witches Abroad

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