Mark Reads ‘Reaper Man’: Part 1

In the first part of Reaper Man, everything dies. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld. 


Seriously, this is such a fascinating premise because Pratchett opens Reaper Man with an impossibility. And it’s an impossibility because of what we know of Death and the rules of Death’s “life.” Death is supposed to be here now and forever because… that’s just the way it is? You can’t change it? So, at least for me, I’m drawn instantly into the book because I want to see how Pratchett is going to deal with such a glaring and upsetting contradiction.

Let’s start talking about the auditors of reality, because WHAT. So… where were they during Moving Pictures? Certainly, the Discworld could have used a few reality audits while their reality was busy being thrown into chaos. JUST SAYING. But I get the sense that the Auditors and Azrael are monitoring something else: neutrality. It’s not that these beings want the universe to operate in a specific way. Indeed, the Discworld is a never-ending disc of chaos, isn’t it? So, the fact that we haven’t met the Auditors before seems significant. What is it that grabs their attention here?

One said, It has never happened before. Can it be done?

One said, It will have to be done. There is a personality. Personalities come to an end. Only forces endure.

This timeless quality (haha, timeless) is the key to understanding why the Auditors suddenly decide to depose of Death by giving him mortal life. Death is supposed to remain neutral and unquestioning, and yet? Death has, over the course of the previous ten books, developed a bit of a personality. (This is all a bit meta, isn’t it?) We see the ramifications of this sort of growth when one of the Auditors begins to think of themselves as an individual, only to be destroyed by the collective group. It’s that brutal and rigid. Just for using the pronouns “I” and “my,” y’all!

So why now? Why has Azrael given Death a mortal life? I admit that I don’t think that Pratchett gives us much information to start with, aside from the Azrael scene and the Albert/Death scene. While Albert is shocked about this development, I thought it was kind of fantastic to see how Death resolved to finally enjoy his life, now that he finally had one. But before that happens, Pratchett cycles through a few humorous scenarios detailing the life and death of creatures on the Discworld. Which I found entertaining, but I also found slightly confusing. It’s not like I didn’t understand what was going on, but I don’t see where this fits into the story.


It’s always weird for me to make statements about confusion or not getting shit because, as is often the case, I find out what’s going on LITERALLY IN THE NEXT CHAPTER. I could get all this IN LITERALLY A DAY. But part of the appeal of doing this for me is being able to be honest with y’all and knowing that there’s a contingent of this experience that relies solely on me being wrong. Which is something I talk about a lot more at conventions and in fandom spaces than I do on this site! Fandoms are so hard navigating because most of them place a value on knowing everything, and that’s not an easy thing to be faced with. So, the scenes with the mayflies and the Counting Pines and Windle Poons are full of plenty of wonderful, charming jokes, but why are they here? Why is this information we need at the beginning of the book?

I don’t know, and that’s okay. I’m still intrigued by this book because I want to know how Death is going to spend his time. Is this book going to be an entire journey through the end of Death’s life? I’D TOTALLY LOVE THAT.

Mark Links Stuff

– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S., Canada, Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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