"A room without books is like a body without a soul." - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Death has gone missing, leaving Discworld in complete havoc. Death’s absence means that things which are supposed to die, well, aren’t. This is where the protagonist - Windle Poons - comes in. Due to Death’s mysterious disappearance, he is living as a zombie, unable to truly die, like others who, having completed their allotted time on Discworld, are now left in limbo. All of the extra living folk create a build-up of ‘life force’, producing pure mayhem, bringing trolleys to life and other inanimate objects, as well as causing other more disastrous problems. So where has Death got to? Ironic as it is, he is dying; his life timer is rapidly running low, and he has decided to live out his remaining time working as a corn reaper on a farm.

Reaper Man reads almost like two novels; the narrative switches from Windle Poons’ absurd predicament to Death living out his final days on the farm. Death is a brilliant and ingenious character; as I mentioned in my review of Mort, Death is personified in the Discworld novels, being a skeleton with a scythe, flashing blue eyes and a black, hooded cloak. He is a very amusing character, particularly when it comes to social situations, into which he finds it difficult to integrate himself - my favourite moment so far being him heading out to bars and getting drunk in Mort. There are also the one liners he comes out with, never failing to make me chuckle, such as:

“‘This isn’t some sort of joke, is it?’ he added hopefully.


Pratchett’s writing style is gorgeous. It is a real treat to read, and is full of delightful witticisms and whimsy. Reaper Man is a very light-hearted, funny novel, featuring a humour which is quintessentially British, such as mayflies - which live for only twenty-four hours - reminiscing about the “good old hours”, and how larvae don’t respect their elders, as well as quotes such as:

 “Five exclamation marks, the sure sign of an insane mind.”

 “‘Why does everyone run towards a blood-curdling scream?’ mumbled the Senior Wrangler. ‘It’s contrary to all sense.’”

Reaper Man is my favourite Discworld novel so far (out of The Colour of Magic, The Light Fantastic and Mort). It has a host of comical characters, a beautiful, charming writing style, and a cleverly woven plot full of magic, danger and humour. It is a truly enjoyable novel - being one of those books which will make you smile and laugh, and won’t fail to brighten up your day.

Rating: 9/10

My other Terry Pratchett reviews:

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