In the thirteenth chapter of Mort, THIS IS SO GOOD, I LOVE SO MANY THINGS ABOUT THIS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Holy shit. HOLY SHIT!!!
So, I guessed right: Albert was returning to the mortal world to stop Mort. I got nothing else right. This whole opening scene was just so endlessly glorious and funny, and maybe even a little scary. I suppose I never once thought that wizards were different than they were two thousand years ago, but the culture of Unseen University has changed so much since then. THIS IS MADE VERY CLEAR BY ALBERT, WHO IS A LOT MORE LIKE A DRILL SERGEANT THAN A WIZARD. Of course, Pratchett frames the whole thing with a beautiful joke. Albert blows apart his own statue because he thinks it’s a terrible likeness of himself, but to everyone else? It looks like Albert burst out of his own statue. HE IS BACK FOR REVENGE. So it’s like a Weeping Angel but actually scary. (DON’T CARE.) It’s so scary that all the wizards who had once defaced the statue are now certain that it’s coming to get them, including one wizard who couldn’t escape Albert:
“Stop this bloody nonsense!” Albert glanced down at the little ape, who gave him a warm friendly smile. “What’s your name, man?”
“Yes, sir, I’ll stop, sir, right away, no more nonsense, sir… Rincewind, sir. Assistant librarian, if it’s all right by you.”
BLESS THE HEAVENS, THANK YOU FOR NOT SPOILING THIS FOR ME. It’s perfect. IT’S SO PERFECT. And now Rincewind is the assistant librarian??? Does that mean he was technically in the last book, too? EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IS FANTASTIC, Y’ALL. It’s just so perfect because Pratchett contrasts the two wizards almost immediately. One is an orangoutang’s assistant while the other has no time for such nonsense. In terms of ability, you’ve got a wizard who spent most of his life unable to do any spells at all, and then you’ve got arguably the most powerful wizard to ever step foot on the Disc. Of course, having Rincewind there allows Pratchett to poke fun at Rincewind by having Albert ask him if he’s seen Death lately. WELL. ABOUT THAT. THERE’S A BIT OF A STORY TO THAT, OKAY.
Anyway, Albert is… well, he’s less fun than he was before, I must admit that. So I wonder if that might have been part of the deal he made with Death. Everything he does here is an exhibit of power, and it’s clear that he’s completely in love with the idea. He’s offended that people would want to show a “sense of civic duty.” He actually says at one point:
“What’s the use of having the power if you don’t wield it? Man doesn’t show you respect, you don’t leave enough of his damn inn to roast chestnuts on, understand?”
This is the legacy Albert wanted to leave behind? It’s pretty horrifying, honestly, and now I’m curious if Death knew this aspect of him. The Albert in Death’s world isn’t even remotely like this, is he? He was a little touchy with Mort, but I always thought that was justified. What happened? Why did he change? Actually, I have a thought about that.
And it’s related to Mort’s development in this section. Mort heads to the continent of Klatch to find the other death he needs to complete in order for Albert’s spell to work. There, he and Ysabell head into the Pyramids of Tsort, which confuses them both. Given that the Tsorteans just chose a king, they can’t be claiming a king inside the pyramid. They’d already be dead. SO THEY FIND THE MOST HORRIFYING THING INSIDE: a devoted servant whose poison worked too slowly. THEY WERE STILL ALIVE, OH GOD.
But it was Mort’s behavior here that clued me into what was actually going on with him. (Well, let’s be fair: It was also the fact that Ysabell SPELLED IT OUT FOR ME.) He speaks so knowledgeably while in the Tsortean pyramid, and I was curious at the time how on earth he understood this so well. In hindsight, he did know that people went on to whatever world they believed was next for them. But there was a bit of condescension when he spoke to Ysabell, and I couldn’t place it. Why was he acting like this with her? It’s the same attitude he had with Albert and her in the last section, too.
We’ve seen how powerful belief is on the Disc, so it’s only fitting that Mort’s belief in his transformation into Death is what’s responsible for his metamorphosis. It works in the narrative because Mort has been gradually been convincing himself that he’s at the center of this story. When he spared Keli’s life, he did it for his own benefit, not hers. He’s said he saved her life, but even his own subconscious called him out on how he felt entitled to her gratification. Instead of listening to her or asking her what she wanted, he became a self-professed hero, or at least what he perceived to be a hero.
The Rite of AshkEnte
Well, now I know what it is, and I assume that this is how Albert came to be Death’s servant over two thousand years prior. The Rite “summons and binds Death.” The only problem that Albert has initially is that now there are technically two Deaths on the Disc, and the spell pulls Mort in first before Ysabell PUNCHES MORT IN THE FACE. HOLY SHIT. This does something that disengages Mort from the Rite, pulling the real Death in. AND HE IS NOT VERY HAPPY ABOUT HAVING HIS KITTY CAT TIME INTERRUPTED. He takes this very seriously. He also takes his Duty seriously… when he’s doing it. I started to finish that sentence and then realized that half this book is Death giving his Duty to a sixteen-year-old. SO MAYBE HE’S NOT ALWAYS SERIOUS ABOUT IT. However, upon being informed about what Mort’s done, he snaps out of his human fantasy and is PISSED. He is INCREDIBLY ANGRY. I don’t exactly understand what happens here, but I think Death transported himself and Albert back to his world? That must be why Albert was so insistent that he escape the octogram; he didn’t want to go back. He wanted to stay in the mortal world.
I also need to say that Rincewind. That’s it. Rincewind.
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