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Reaper Man

Terry Pratchett

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Victor Gollancz

Published : 1991

Copyright : Terry & Lyn Pratchett 1991

ISBN-10 : PB 0-552-134-643
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-552-13464-4

Publisher's Write-Up

Death is missing - presumed... er... gone.

Which leads to the kind of chaos you always get when an important public service is withdrawn. Ghosts and poltergeists fill up the Discworld. Dead Rights activist Reg Shoe - 'You Don't Have to Take This Lying Down' - suddenly has more work than he had ever dreamed of.

And newly deceased wizard Windle Poons wakes up in his coffin to find that he has come back as a corpse. But it's up to Windle and the members of Ankh-Morpork's rather unfrightening group of undead* to save the world for the living.

Meanwhile, on a little farm far, far away, a tall, dark stranger is turning out to be really good with a scythe. There's a harvest to be got in. And a different battle to be fought.

*Arthur Winkings, for example, became a vampire after being bitten by a lawyer. Schleppel the bogeyman would be better at his job if he wasn't agoraphobic and frightened of coming out of the closet. And Mr Ixolite is a banshee with a speech impediment, so instead of standing on the roof and screaming when there's a death in the house he writes 'DooEeeOooEeeOoo' on a piece of paper and pushes it under the door.

'I'm beginning to think that Terry Pratchett is the best humorist this country has seen since P. G. Wodehouse - less coarse than Tom Sharpe, less cynical than Douglas Adams, simply a pure joy.'

David Pringle, White Dwarf

'Terry Pratchett... just keeps getting better and better... Pratchett is at the peak of his powers; it's hard to think of any humorist writing in Britain today who can match him.

Dominic Wells, Time Out
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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (300401) Rating (7/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
Reaper Man is the story of what happens when Death is ousted in a corporate restructuring by beings which are described as being like auditors, removing his job title because they say that he should not have any form of identity or personalisation.

They give him his own little life timer and send him out into the world to finish his existence. Death finds himself in the Ramtop Mountains, answering a note asking for a man to work on a farm, for the princely sum of sixpence a week, working for Miss Flitworth. Death calls himself Bill Door, a good name he thinks, for a solid citizen and he becomes accepted by the local community.

While the corporate restructuring is happening, there is no-one fulfilling the role left vacant by death, and the life force which was previously dispersed is building up in a most dangerous manner. Windle Poons, the oldest wizard in the Unseen University, is due to die and has a very nice send off party, but when they bury him, he returns to his body when he is not directed to go anywhere. In his coffin, he finds a sign, telling of a place which the undead can meet at, where he will find people like himself.

Windle masters the art of controlling his body again and sets off to find this meeting place. Not only are the people not dying, but other, less vital life forces are left, floating around, and, like any form of energy, they need a release, and as they conform to the Law of Conservation of Energy, in that it cannot be destroyed, only changed.

So, the energy starts to appear in forms such as small glass globes containing small models of famous buildings, and when you shake them they have snowflakes which swirl and float around.

There are parallel, yet interlinked lines of this story, with Death trying to maintain his own life, and Windle Poons trying to come to terms with life after death, and the whole energy business is going on around them. The new Deaths start to come on line after a bit but they do not solve the problem, as they are anthropomorphic representations of what their respective species think that death should be, Death of Rats is the nicest, a little skeletal being, carrying the Death of Fleas.

Needless to say, it all comes out right in the end, and the end is one of the nicest I have probably ever read, but I shall say no more. Two things that I think you should look out for, if you decide to read this are the Counting Pines and the Mayflies - two true Pratchettisms - classic.
Chrissi (30th April 2001)

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