Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Character Connection - DEATH


This is a very interesting meme from the Introverted Reader, where the goal is to spotlight one character of interest every week.

My character connection for today is Death, the Grim Reaper in Terry Pratchett's wonderful Discworld. Death appears in almost all of the Discworld novels, but we first encounter him in some depth in Mort, the story of a young man who becomes Death's apprentice.

Death is rather typical actually - he is a skeleton, and usually wears a cowl and a carries a scythe to boot. in his own words he is an ANTHROPOMORPHIC PERSONIFICATION, and rides a pale horse named Binky. "He long ago gave up using traditional skeletal horses because of the bother of having to stop all the time to wire bits back on." (Mort) Being a skeleton, Death does not really talk per se, but his words enter the listener's head directly, not passing through the ears. He is the only character in Discworld who talks all in SMALL CAPS without quotation marks.

When Mort first converses with Death, he exclaims "But you're Death, You go around killing people!"

I KILL? said Death, obviously offended. CERTAINLY NOT. PEOPLE GET KILLED, BUT THAT'S THEIR BUSINESS. I JUST TAKE OVER FROM THEN ON. AFTER ALL, IT'D BE A BLOODY STUPID WORLD IF PEOPLE GOT KILLED WITHOUT DYING, WOULDN'T IT?

Death is indeed very matter-of-fact about his job. When Mort first accompanies Death on his duties, their 'client' is a king who is killed in a plot by his cousin. Mort is appalled to see this assassination being carried out and wants Death to prevent it. LISTEN, said Death. FAIR DOESN'T COME INTO IT. YOU CAN'T TAKE SIDES. GOOD GRIEF. WHEN ITS'S TIME, IT'S TIME. THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT BOY. Death then goes on to take a swing with his sword, passing it through the kings neck neatly. A GOOD CLEAN JOB, said Death. ROYALTY ARE ALWAYS A PROBLEM. THEY TEND TO WANT TO HANG ON. YOUR AVERAGE PEASANT NOW, HE CAN'T WAIT.

Death lives in a very large house with his faithful manservant Albert and his adopted daughter Ysabell. He is not very imaginative with color though, and black is the predominant color in house and garden. Even the broccoli that Death grows is black, tinted with purple. Death has a fondness for cats, but is truly fascinated by human beings. So much so that, in Reaper Man, he is accused of being too human and sent to live among humans by the Auditors of Reality who
make sure that everything in Discworld proceeds according to The Rules. While other species created new deaths, there is chaos among humans, while Death is having a good time as Bill Door, a farmhand. Death eventually returns to his duties and all is well with Discworld.

Death appears in all the Discworld novels except one, and is a fun, friendly, and fascinating character - my favorite in Discworld.


9 comments:

  1. Yeah, Death is a wonderful character in the Diuscworld novels. Thanks for showcasing him :)

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  2. I hqve never read or heard about this ! To characterize Death must be really interesting to read..

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  3. +JMJ+

    The only Pratchett novel I've read Good Omens. Does that count? =P

    The part about Death in Discworld being fascinated with humans and really living it up as a farmhand reminds me of what Pratchett and Gaiman did with the Antichrist in their novel. He can't be very scary if he thinks we're so cool. I'd compare him, I guess, to Gandalf having the time of his life with the Hobbits of The Shire. He could party anywhere with Men and with Elves, but he chooses the Hobbits.

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  4. i love the humour in Pratchett's books. All the quotes you mentioned are great!

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  5. I'm not really a Terry Prachett girl. I like my fantasy minus the comedy. But I totally admire his ability to make original characters!

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  6. Great choice! Death is indeed a very cool character.

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  7. I need to try more Pratchett. I read and enjoyed Good Omens and Equal Rites?--one of the Discworld novels that featured a woman. I tried one or two others and didn't get them as much. My sister loves them all though, and we usually have very similar taste in books, so I'm thinking that might have been bad timing on my part.
    I love the quotes! He sounds funny! The only other book I can think of where Death is a character is The Book Thief. It's a very different Death, but I felt like he added a lot to the book.

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  8. Oooooo! Death! I love Death. He's ma homie!

    Seriously, he's one of the best of Pratchett's characters and really provides a lot of ways to laugh at ourselves and our conceptions of life. Thanks for the portait and making me smile!

    Just so you know, I'd love to comment more often, but I usually read your blog during my break when the firewall allows reading but not commenting.

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  9. I have an award for you. You can pick it up here.

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