In the sixteenth and final part of Reaper Man, everything comes to an end. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Seriously, how do the priests in the Lost Jewelled Temple of Doom go home? Is there some secret exit that skips all of the deadly traps? I’M HERE TO ASK ALL THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS.
Death sped across the world, landing once again in the farmyard. The sun was on the horizon when he knocked on the kitchen door.
Miss Flitworth opened it, wiping her hands on her apron. She grimaced short-sightedly at the visitor, and then took a step back.
“Bill Door? You gave me quite a start –”
I had to re-read this whole scene again before I attempted to write about it. It’s 100% different once you know Pratchett’s endgame, so I had to see how this all unfolding knowing that this exchange marked the exact moment when Miss Flitworth died. How the hell did I not realize that the Timer was hers??? Y’all, THIS IS AN ACTUAL SENTENCE HERE:
“Bill Door, what are you thinking of?”
I HAVE COME TO TAKE YOU AWAY FROM ALL THIS.
He is clearly doing his job. OH MY GOD. And with the cultural significance of harvest dances imbued within this entire scene, it should have been painfully obvious to me that this was Miss Flitworth’s last dance. Regardless, I think this is perhaps the best closure I’ve ever gotten for a character within the Discworld series. Not only does Death dance with her for hours, he sees his friends in town again, too. He twirls about the dance floor (a couple of barn doors), cycling through one style after another, and it’s about the sweetest thing I could imagine, y’all. But none of it compares to the last waltz, the final dance that Miss Flitworth has with Death. I understand now why Reaper Man opens with a dance and ends with one, too. It has to come full circle.
That’s certainly the case with this specific character, who exhibited kindness, respect, and wisdom towards Death’s Bill Door persona, so much so that Death more or less rewards her in the end. I cannot even remotely deal with this, y’all, and the more I think about it, the more I want to cry. Death took Miss Flitworth back in time so that she could die alongside her husband in that avalanche in the mountains.
I’m not crying you are.
But this sense of closure applies to the other main character in Reaper Man. I’m still so impressed that Pratchett made me care about Windle Poons enough that I teared up reading about his death as well. There’s a beautiful sense of peace to his final scene as he bids goodbye to Sergeant Colon, but for me, the real power in Windle’s character growth was in his realization that he was a much fuller person than he ever knew. He has a fascinating exchange with Death about his “afterlife,” and it’s the best thing I could ask for. Windle went from an uninteresting character who often was pretty gross to a considerate hero, one who cared about the welfare of others and who sought out a way to give his own life meaning. He found that through helping other people and risking his own well-being to protect Ankh-Morpork. He became the best version of himself in the process.
And, with great relief, and general optimism, and a feeling that on the whole everything could have been much worse, Windle Poons died.
Reg Shoe dies not long after this, but the final scene of Reaper Man is about life. Death, back home with Albert, allows the Death of Rats to remain separate from his being, a heartbreaking reference to Azrael’s cosmic loneliness out there in the universe. He even gets the final world, a confirmation that this entire book was always going to be a circle. Death happens, everything ends, and it’ll always begin again.
Bravo. Another super good entry in the Discworld canon, y’all. I’m so happy that I got an entire book about Death!!! I assume that the next book, Witches Abroad, will bring back my favorite trio of witches. PLEASE?????
The original text contains use of the word “cripple.”
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