Mark Reads ‘Mort’: Part 14

In the fourteenth part of Mort, Mort comes up with a plan to save Keli. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 

I still don’t know how this is going to end!!! I’M SO EXCITED.

Pratchett alternates between two tense scenes here: Mort and Ysabell rushing to the palace, and Cutwell trying to ensure that Princess Keli is crowned before the interface closes in on them. We begin with Mort, who comes back to consciousness after nearly being pulled to Unseen University by the Rite of AshkEnte. But it was Ysabell who saved him with a well-timed punch in the jaw, which snapped him out of his almost-completed transformation into Death. And lord, Mort totally understands why Ysabell did this. She knew what was happening to him, both the metamorphosis and the Rite. So he thanks her! It’s an important moment because Mort now knows how close he got to an entirely different kind of existence:

He remembered the knowledge. He remembered his mind feeling as cold as ice and limitless as the night sky. He remembered being summoned into reluctant existence at the moment the first creature lived, in the certain knowledge that he would outlive life until the last being in the universe passed to its reward, when it would then be his job, figuratively speaking, to put the chairs on the tables and turn all the lights off.

He remembered the loneliness.

I’m thankful this because Mort got so close to becoming something unlikable. Death is such an entertaining character because he lacks the cruelty that Mort started to exhibit. He’s so inhuman that it’s endearing. He’s not mean or vicious about his job. But Mort, consumed by such a singular goal, let his transformation control him, and then he discovered what it’s actually like to be Death. We already knew that, though! All of Death’s POV parts of Mort are sad to read because we find out just how lonely he is.

So I’m curious to see how Death is going to deal with Mort. Death was clearly furious with him in the last part. And despite that Mort has learned the hard way what happens when you try to change Fate, he still decides to get on Binky and race towards Keli’s location so he can save her. Of course, his journey at the speed of night (PRATCHETT MADE TWO DIFFERENT PUNS OUT OF THE SAME PHRASE OH MY GOD) feels futile to us because we know just how disastrous Cutwell’s plan to coronate Keli has become. I had a theory that maybe the citizens of Sto Lat would believe her into existence if he pulled off the ceremony, but I think I was wrong about that. While reading this section, I realized that Keli just wanted to be crowned before death. She didn’t want to die a commoner. And I didn’t see anything here that suggested that she or Cutwell expected to “survive” this, at least not as their versions of themselves in that alternate reality.

Even then, the whole thing is a mess, which is mostly comical because DRUNK ARTHRITIC ELEPHANT. My mind instantly went to the elephants in Revolutionary Girl Utena. I COULDN’T HELP. The elephant is returning to its people so it can chase Nanami down and destroy her billion-fold curry! But even if that hadn’t happened, would this have been completed anyway? Pratchett brilliant sends up bureaucratic inefficiency and lengthy religious ceremonies with the High Priest. (Oh god, I had flash backs to some of the more boring Mass ceremonies I went to as a teenager.) But even if the High Priest hadn’t totally screwed everything up, there was a variable that Cutwell never planned for.

The duke.

It makes sense that someone else would have figured out Princess Keli’s “problem,” especially since the duke probably woke up the day after her “death” believing that he was in charge, only to discover that he wasn’t. At all. And there was Keli, still on the throne and still trying to rule, despite that everyone was generally confused about her being around. So he plotted to take the throne from her anyway, and the stampeding elephant provided the perfect cover, since people’s minds used it to believe the easier reality: THAT SHE HAD DIED. Oh gods, that means all of Cutwell’s work was erased anyway.

And then the interface comes and ruins all of that. It’s at this point that the two storylines converge as Mort makes it to the hall right as the edges of the interface begin to squeeze in on the place. I had theorized earlier that Mort might try to pull Keli into Death’s world, and that’s what happens here. It’s the only option let to Mort, but I still don’t understand what happens next. It’s entirely possible that the world will snap back into place, since Keli isn’t around to contradict reality. It’s sort of like what Albert did, right? But Death isn’t going to be happy with this at all, is he?


The original text contains use of the word “mad.”

Video 1

Video 2

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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