This is the bright candlelit room where the life-timers are stored - shelf upon shelf of them, squat hourglasses, one for every living person, pouring their fine sand from the future into the past.
–Terry Pratchett - Mort - c.1987
Discworld # 4 Discworld Death #1
Death comes to us all. When he came to Mort, he offered him a job.
After being assured that being dead was not compulsory, Mort accepted. However, he soon found that romantic longings did not mix easily with the responsibilities of being Death’s apprentice… (Goodreads)
My great Pratchett reread continues1 .
This and Equal Rites are where the Discworld really starts to come alive for me. The previous two are much more slapstick humour and the germ of the idea of Discworld. Mort is where Death truly comes into his own. He, AND HIS TALKING IN CAPITALS, had been introduced before, but only in passing. Now he gets a whole book to himself. Well and his apprentice Mort2 and his daughter3 and his servant. Oh, and his horse, Binky. They all get to feature in great detail.
It’s a great read, and if you’ve never read a Discworld book before this might be a good place to start. Sure, it isn’t the first in the Discworld ‘verse, but it is an easy introduction to the world and there isn’t any backstory for you to catch up on. Course you’ll recognise some of the incidental characters if you’ve read the previous books but you aren’t missing out if you don’t spot the familiar faces showing up.
It has plenty of humour, but it doesn’t feel like it’s just joke after joke with a bare plot added in as is sometimes the case of the first two Discworld novels. It is much more of a story, characters and plot combining to create humour instead of the other way around.
And don’t forget, if you think you’ve missed out some of the references you can always take a look through the Annotated File for Mort