In the eighth part of Mort, the world begins to correct Mort’s mistake. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Mort.
You know, there’s actually precedent for this! Couldn’t you say that the world changed in order to keep Rincewind and Twoflower alive after they plunged off the Disc? Granted, I’m not trying to say that this is exactly the same thing, because I don’t think it is. But there’s a neat similarity between the two events, and yet an entirely different context. There’s an urgent terror to this section! We’re meant to freak out as the world snaps back into it’s “proper” place, but then the fright comes from knowing that Mort isn’t going to let his mistake get fixed.
I’ll get there. I love that Pratchett decided to have the “historical event horizon” be such a physical thing. The event horizon itself is like a fine, silvery mist, and then what it does to the world is visceral and surreal. It’s easy to picture it starting on the edges of the Disc and slowly moving in to the center of the paradox. But what’s so fun about all this is how Pratchett shows us what Princess Keli’s death would have done to the world. Truthfully? Not much. At least not yet! The changes are incredibly subtle, and often, things are just in a different place. Her death set people on specific paths that interacted with the world around them in different ways. So while she’s still “alive” in Sto Lat, her actions nudge the world in subtle directions that deviate from the original plan. Again, there’s nothing catastrophic happening here. Clouds are in different places. Birds chose different flight paths. And some bars were still named The Quene’s Hed, despite that… well, Princess Keli still had her head.
And while Mort may be changing physically due to his time in Death’s world, he’s still got some emotional maturation to do. His experience inside the Quene’s Hed – er, The Duke’s Head – should have demonstrated to him the awesome and terrifying powers at work when it comes to fate. I mean, IT’S SUPER SCARY TO THINK ABOUT WATCHING THIS HAPPEN BEFORE YOUR EYES. Given that Mort is the only person who doesn’t change during the “mist” sequence (since he’s still conscious of what was “before”), it’s understandably a frightening thing. That does make me wonder, though. Does being Death’s apprentice grant Mort some sort of superhuman power? He is able to observe the two realities without either one being erased from his consciousness. In addition to that, I read the whole scumble debacle as being evidence that he is physically protected at all times while in the mortal world. It’s not a conscious thing at all! He doesn’t think about walking through the door three times, nor does he think, “Well, I better make sure this scumble doesn’t affect me.” But he’s entirely immune to the liquor. 100%. So… I WONDER IF MY THEORY IS CORRECT. It makes sense! Death can’t be susceptible to the demands of mortal life because his job is CLEARLY vital for the world to exist uninterrupted.
Speaking of Death, I’m glad that he’s having a good time fishing. The whole scene with Terpsic is pretty great, and I would like to think that Death got a kick out of telling Terpsic that he saved him from drowning “FOR LATER.” Oh, Death.
Anyway, Mort is clearly heading into a disastrous confrontation. Like the text says, he could sit back and the world would repair his mistake in a matter of minutes. No one would be the wiser, he could learn from his behavior, and he could grow as a person. Instead, he’s going to foolishly try to save Princess Keli. Again. Which I don’t even understand how that’s possible. Isn’t she just going to pop out of existence? How can he save her?
The original text contains use of the words “mad” and “crazily.”
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