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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead, Depressed? Feel Like Starting it All Again?
REAPER MAN is my introduction to Pratchett. Upon finishing it, I immediately ordered four more Pratchett novels. The man's a comic/cosmic genius. I had always been put off by what appeared to be the mass market packaging of his books. I thought he was just another pop fiction author. I couldn't have been more wrong. The usual comparison is to Douglas Adams, whom I also...
Published on November 23, 2004 by Bruce Kendall

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Death has feelings too
Well, maybe three is a little unfair, but I really didn't like Windle. I bought this book after reading Mort because I really liked the character of Death. The Death plot was really sweet and I loved how he kept Death of Rats and Death of Fleas as pets. I really didn't like the wizards, The Freash Start Club, and Windle Poons though. They really got on my nerves. It was a...
Published on March 20, 2004


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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dead, Depressed? Feel Like Starting it All Again?, November 23, 2004
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This review is from: Reaper Man (Mass Market Paperback)
REAPER MAN is my introduction to Pratchett. Upon finishing it, I immediately ordered four more Pratchett novels. The man's a comic/cosmic genius. I had always been put off by what appeared to be the mass market packaging of his books. I thought he was just another pop fiction author. I couldn't have been more wrong. The usual comparison is to Douglas Adams, whom I also greatly admire, but I find that I respond even more viscerally to Pratchett.

It's not too difficult to figure out who the main character is in this book. But this Reaper has less to do with a Durer print than he does with the character as filtered through the mind set of Monty Python in THE MEANING OF LIFE. "Bill Door," the Reaper's flustered attempt at a moniker as he assumes his earthly identity, is one of the drollest, funniest comic characters in recent literature. He is a master of understatement. His deadpan delivery is spot on. The puns and the throwaway lines come fast and furious, throughout the book. Yet Pratchett also adds a sense of poignancy as the Reaper engages in a terrestrial romance with the somewhat addled, but strong willed Miss Flitworth. We come to care about what happens to them.

Pratchett does a masterful job of juggling several subplots, involving Wizards, a Wolfman and several other equally bizarre, but comical secondary characters. I couldn't describe all these plots and subplots coherently if I tried. Suffice it to say that what would dissolve into pure incoherence in a lesser writer's hands, holds up like juggled hourglasses in Pratchett's hands.

I had the impression that Pratchett couldn't be an important writer "and" be as prolific as he's been. Wrong. I've started several of his other books (THE COLOR OF MAGIC, THE LIGHT FANTASTIC, SMALL GODS and INTERESTING TIMES) and see that some of my favorite characters are included in other volumes. I can't wait to finish them! I definitely have to thank my Reviewer Friends for having urged me to check into Pratchett Land. As parallel universes go, Discworld can't be surpassed!

BEK
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a wonderful afterlife, November 21, 2004
By 
Eileen Rieback (Coral Springs, FL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Reaper Man (Mass Market Paperback)
Death, the grim reaper, is tasked with harvesting people's souls after they have died. He has always existed beyond Time and beyond life. But he has angered the Great Ones, and now he has to share the same fate as those he reaps: he is dying. He decides to take a holiday in order to make the most of the limited time he has left. But without Death present to claim people when they move on, things are bound to go wrong as life energy builds up and wreaks havoc on Discworld. Windle Poons, the oldest wizard at Unseen University, finds that upon his death he has nowhere to go. So he returns to his body until he can finally pass on. In his quest to find Death, he finds life. "Reaper Man" alternates between two story lines: a mostly serious one about Death and a mostly whimsical one about Poons and his fellow wizards as they battle a new life form that threatens to take over the disc.

Although the character of Death was introduced in earlier Pratchett books, here he is fleshed out (if you will pardon the pun) into a fascinating character. He becomes a farm hand and switches to reaping crops instead of souls. He wrestles with the concept of saving a life instead of claiming one. He learns to get along with the townspeople and forms an interesting, and ultimately moving, relationship with Miss Flitworth, the elderly spinster who owns the farm. Now that he is faced with his own death, he begins to experience the vulnerabilities and emotions that other mortals face. I found Death to be a quite likable entity, and I think other readers will also.

The late Windle Poons evokes a lot of laughs as he tries to make his way in the world of the still living. He hooks up with a group of the Undead when he joins the Fresh Start Club, an organization that fights for equal rights for the deceased. The club members include a shy banshee, a reluctant vampire, a boogeyman, and a reverse werewolf. Poons, the wizards, the Undead, and a medium named Mrs. Cake are caught up in a funny and magically madcap race to save Discworld from a fate far worse than death.

As is usual in his books, Terry Pratchett includes wonderful nuggets of wisdom and philosophy scattered here and there between the laughs. Among the thought-provoking ideas he includes here are the relationship between belief and the object believed in, and the trolls' theory on why living things move backwards through time. He laments the intrusion of suburban sprawl and the proliferation of shopping malls. His characters ponder the meaning of life and death. This is not merely a story to race through and enjoy. It is a story to savor, and its ideas will stick with the reader long after the book is closed.

Eileen Rieback
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Discworld novel. Without a doubt., August 10, 2000
By 
yakmir@yahoo.com (Melbourne, Australia.) - See all my reviews
The Discworld series is a brilliant and beautiful series of books. This is the best of them. Do I really need to give any further explanation? Alright then.
The Grim Reaper, Death, is a character often popularised as evil and murderous, and such. But he isn't, and in fact gets quite offended should this be suggested to him. The Auditors of Reality have therefore decided to fire him, on the basis that he is taking too much personal interest in his work. Until a replacement is found, though, Death's job - taking the spirits of the dead to their appointed afterlife (if any) isn't happening, leaving a surplus of life force and an abundance of chaos.
As Death journeys through what must now be called his "life" as a farm labourer called Bill Door, and deceased-but-not-departed wizard Windle Poons attempts to find him, comedy mixes with serious issues on life and humanity. And we are amused, but moved at the same time. A beautiful book. Get it. Now, if not sooner.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not in the John Deere catalog . . ., March 25, 2001
Shortsighted management has forced another "downsizing". This time the victim of layoff is Death himself, "retired" by the Auditors. He does his job efficiently and he doesn't sass the boss. He's just become "too involved" with those due to receive attention from his infinitely sharp scythe. The Auditors want a firmer hand on the reaping blade. On the street with time on his hands, Death decides he's going to spend it. Wandering the Discworld, he "gets his feet under the table" as hired man at Miss Flitworth's farm. Although a bit confused about eating and sleeping, he's able to respond with resolute affirmation when she asks, "Can you use a scythe?" He demonstrates a harvesting technique only Pratchett could devise.

With Death no longer performing his role, strange events result. Unconfined, the life force manifests itself in bizarre ways. Death, visible to wizards, fails to arrive at an appointment. In consequence, Windle Poons is subjected to various indignities. His colleagues have a prejudice about zombies. Not having actually died, Windle decides to start to live. Over a century of breathing doesn't necessarily mean you've been living, and Windle, like Death, decides to see something of the [Disc]world. His colleagues, uncertain as to why Windle's still upright and subjected to some mild indignities of their own, seek the cause of unusual manifestations.

If you're new to the Discworld, all this must sound pretty grotesque. Death "fired" only to become a reaper on a spinster's farm? Wizards who can see him and know precisely when he's due? Take heart, this isn't a bleak version of the Merlin legend, nor a Stephen King horror story. It's Terry Pratchett, a writer with an unmatched talent for looking at the world we live in. He peers deeply at how life works. Then with countless deft twists, restructures our globe into a flat Disc. The Disc's filled with novel ideas and even more unusual people, but on second glance all seem terribly familiar. Death isn't a killer, for example. He's only there to collect lives when they're due to end. Unlike the tax man, he only arrives once, and he's terribly, terribly good at his job.

To those familiar with Pratchett, this book should receive high marks. All of Ankh-Morpork's finest are here - even Sergeant Colon makes an appearance. While enlarging on the cameos Death's played in other Discworld books, Pratchett nearly lets Miss Flitworth walk away with this one. But it's Sal Lifton who does that - the Small Child who recognizes Bill Door as a "skellington" as she ponders how he can eat or sleep. For it's Sal who personifies why Death's been put out to pasture [sorry!]. What that implies about Death's philosophy of life [sorry, again!] and how all this reflects Pratchett's own views becomes vividly clear when the "new hire" appears. As with many modern managers, the Auditors have acquired a labour saving appliance.

Pratchett's great genius is many-leveled. A light skim of any of his books is to experience high mirth rates. His talent for quirky description and one liners you seek ways to use in conversation is matchless. But a few months later, Reaper Man may arrive unbidden back in your hand. "There's something else", you may muse, going back to seek it. More jewels will be discovered, the witticisms skipped over revealing things of deeper value. You will then discover why this reviewer considers Pratchett as one of today's most valuable philosophers. And who rejoices seeing his children with PTerry in hand. If there's hope for survival of this species, it will be people like Pratchett conveying human values to people who need it most - the next generation.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant., February 24, 2003
This review is from: Reaper Man (Mass Market Paperback)
Reaper Man, to my mind, is the pinnacle of Pratchett's career. This is the first book in the series that truly melded the emotion of some of the previous books with the humor that's always been part of the Discworld universe. However, the emphasis is very much on the former in this case: this is Pratchett's most moving book by far.
There are two basic plots in the book. One is caused by the other, but as the story progresses, there is little correlation between the two. Some people have commented on this as being a flaw, but personally speaking, I don't really see how that matters.
This first plot mainly focuses on Death being fired by the Auditors and Azrael. After this is done, he comes to the Discworld, looking to make a new start. He takes a job with Miss Flitworth at her farm, and things go on from there.
The second plot is based around the death of Windle Poons: and his subsequent return, because of the `lapse in service' caused by Death's exit. Poons was 130 years old, and his return from the dead makes him `live' again, ironically enough. For him, death is not like a sleep: it is more like waking up again. The problem is that the rest of the world soon raises objections.
While I have mentioned the fact that Reaper Man is the most moving Discworld book, this is not to say that it isn't funny. In fact, some of the scenes in this installment are nothing short of hilarious, particularly in Poons' side of the story. The attempts of his fellow wizards to `help' him out, and their military endeavors in the latter part of the book (Yo!) are just sidesplitting.
Death's side of the story is very different. There is some humor here and there, (see the scene with the dyslexic rooster), but for the most part, it has a slight air of melancholy to it: at points, it is almost brooding in nature. The character of Miss Flitworth is rather tragic, and Death's interaction with her makes for some very serious conversation. He learns more about humanity in the process, and it definitely leaves a mark, as can be seen in later Discworld books.
Also of note is the landscape Death's story takes place in: Pratchett does an excellent job here. The images he conjures up in his descriptions are wonderful: one can almost imagine the wind whistling through the stalks of golden corn, gleaming in the sunlight. The imagery is also appropriate: i.e. the harvest and all that implies.
The characters in Reaper Man are some of the best ever featured in a single Discworld book. Of particular note are the people in the Fresh Starters club: each individual is immaculately crafted, and very, very funny. Dibbler turns up, as does Sgt. Colon and Modo the dwarf, whose musings on life in the University are amusing, in their own way. However, the wizards steal the show, as always: their antics in this one had me in fits.
Speaking of great characters, Windle Poons (along with Ronald Saveloy in Interesting Times) is probably the best one book character Pratchett ever created. In many ways, Poons is probably the only time a wizard in the Discworld series actually lives up to the image used so often in fantasy: he is noble, fair and wise, a man who knows what the right thing to do is, and goes out and does it, no matter the cost to himself. His saving of Ankh Morpork at the hands of what the extra life force hatches up is an example of this.
The book rolls along at a good pace, and is of uniformly high quality throughout. However, it's the last 30-40 pages of it that make it the classic it is, for they are deeply moving. The somberness of Death's side of the story draws on to its logical conclusion, and at the very end, permeates Poons' side as well. The portrayal of said emotion is handled well: it is not nauseatingly overdone, nor is it too bleak. It's very matter of fact, leaving the reader to pick up on whatever he/she may. Pratchett also uses some great lines in the book: the very last one, spoken by Azrael, is of particular note.
Reaper Man, like a fair number of Pratchett's books, is a celebration of life. It is death that makes us truly appreciate life for what it is, and this, I believe, is the author's message here. This theme, mixed in with some of the best humor the series has seen, is what makes Reaper Man Pratchett's finest book, and a classic novel in every sense of the word. Highest possible recommendation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Time For A New Dance to Begin, October 18, 2002
This review is from: Reaper Man (Mass Market Paperback)
Most Terry Pratchett fans are well acquainted with death, or rather, with DEATH. Discworld's skeleton-with-a-scythe has bit parts in almost every volume, and starring roles in many. But few of us have ever thought of what Pratchett's world would be like if a group of universal bureaucrats decided to hand him a golden hourglass and, politely but firmly, show him the door. One thing we can count on though is that in Discworld, nothing ever goes as planned.

The wizards of the Unseen University first notice the problem when Windle Poons fails to make it to the afterlife. Instead, he finds himself back in his body, to the embarrassment of the entire faculty. Evadne Cake the medium first notices when her crystal ball starts shouting. Then a compost heap attacks Modo the gardener. Screws keep unscrewing themselves and the entire city of Ankh-Morpork has a massive attack of poltergeistism. And... And... There is just way too much living going on.

Poons, thanks to a note pinned to the inside of his coffin, discovers a support group for the undead. Not a very big one - Reg Shoe the Ghoul, Doreen and Arthur the not-quite-upscale vampires, Lupine the wereman, Schleppel the bogeyman, and a banshee so timid that it leaves notes for people (OOoooEeeeOooEeeeOOOeee). Together and separately the Wizards, the undead, and Mrs. Cake set out to make sense of chaos. Before chaos makes mincemeat of them.

In the meantime, Death is pursuing his retirement. Posing as an itinerant, he takes a job as a farmhand. No matter that he is a 7-foot skeleton, no matter that he harvests hay one blade at a time. People, he discovers, actually like him. An unusual situation for someone whose name used to be Death. It's Bill Door now and proud of it.

This is classic Pratchett work. He is a master at poking us in the eye, tickling our tummies, and warming our hearts, all at the same time. Be prepared for an unending supply of perfectly atrocious puns (an alchemist is nearly killed by a sharp retort) and twisted sentences (people become werewolves by contracting genetics at an early age). Be prepared to learn about the sex life of cities, why there is a Death of Rats but not a Death of Cats, and the folly of automated farm machinery. Above all be prepared to laugh.

[Five years later] I've been rereading Prachett's books in order, mostly out of a need to lighten my heart a bit, and I finally realized how strong a story this is. Several of the novels before this have shown sparkles of greatness, but Reaper Man goes a step further -- it touches the heart with it's insight into what it means to be human and the preciousness of life, even in death. Did I shed a tear when I first read it? I don't remember. But I did this time, and I'm not normally a teary sort. This is the kind of story that makes you genuinely glad you like Terrey Pratchett. So read Reaper Man, please. It will work for you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pratchet's Most -gulp- Emotional work, June 9, 2001
By A Customer
Yes - that does say "emotional." I've read a lot of Pratchet and this is by far his masterpiece. Not because it's funnier or bigger than his other books, it just has more substance. Douglas Adams (rest his soul) never brought a tear to my eye (in fact, very few books do), but Reaper Man's has a few spots of touching brilliance that transcend the ordinary machine-gun wit of Terry's other books. In fact, I would call this my favorite book of all time. Buy it - you won't be sorry.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death and Miss Flitworth, September 4, 2002
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This review is from: Reaper Man (Mass Market Paperback)
Picture an enormous room chock-full of hour glasses (one with your name on it):
"...Add the sharp clicking of bone on stone, getting closer.
"A dark shape crosses the field of vision and moves up the endless shelves of sibilant glassware. Click, click. Here's a glass with the top bulb nearly empty. Bone fingers rise and reach out. Select. And another. Select. And more. Many, many more. Select, select. [Whew, the dark shape passed by the one with your name on it!]
"It's all in a day's work. Or it would be, if days existed here.
"Click, click, as the dark shape moves patiently along the rows.
"And stops.
"And hesitates.
"Because here's a small gold timer, not much bigger than a watch.
"It wasn't there yesterday, or wouldn't have been if yesterdays existed here.
"Bony fingers close around it and hold it up to the light.
"It's got a name on it, in small capital letters.
"The name is DEATH."
So, now that Death of Discworld, old Mr. Bones himself discovers he's about to shuffle off this immortal coil, bite the Big One, cease to exist, dissolve and leave not a rack of ribs behind---what's he going to do?
He decides to Hell with it (or to It with hell) and goes on vacation.
No Death means no one on Discworld can truly die, including a one-hundred-and-three year-old wizard named Windle Poons, oldest faculty member of the Unseen University. He is scheduled to pass over into the Great Beyond at 9:30 P.M., in the midst of a 'going-away' party that his fellow wizards are throwing for him.
A few seconds past the appointed half hour, Windle swigs his last rum and dies--sort of. But the Big Guy with the scythe doesn't show up, so Windle finally climbs back into his one-hundred-and-three year-old body. He's neither alive nor dead and what's worse, another faculty member has already moved into his room.
Read "Reaper Man" to find out how its two unlikely heroes, Death and Windle Poon are finally reconciled.
P.S. I'd like know how Terry Pratchett keeps coming up with all of these wacky Discworld stories. In "Reaper Man," one character says nothing but 'SQUEAK' and another says nothing but 'Oook,' and yet I understand them--and really like them. Death also seems like an okay sort of dude, although I wouldn't invite him to my going-away party.
P.P.S Don't take that personally, Mr. Bones!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps the best Discworld novel., November 16, 1999
While I have read all of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels and enjoyed most, none are as moving and funny as Reaper Man. Pratchett succeeds here in doing what many authors attempt and at which few succeed--using parody and satire to convey a powerful emotional punch.
Pratchett's hilarious and poignant picture of the anthropomorphic characterization of Death entices the reader into a false sense of security and then, when you are least prepared, unleashes a devastatingly insightful and positive message about the human soul and condition.
While I suspect Reaper Man may be somewhat inaccessible to those unversed in the context and language of the Discworld, it remains one of my favorite works of any genre. It is worth reading the entire series for this one title alone.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Door actually makes sence!, December 8, 1999
To everybody...DRAMA
Can it really get any better? Thos book made me feel very sane, and I am glad there are more of us out there. I view death differently now, and I truly wish I was a wizard so that this figure could come for me in person when I die. How Mr.Pratchett can come up with caracters like DEATH, one man buckett(and his brother), the lads at Unseen University, and that incredibly funny Librarian...just read and get on with it...It wil for sure make you want to read other discnovels. Now I wished our own planet was flat.
As you can see, I have become a great fan of this world, and the Reaper Man made it that way...the best Discworld novel I`ve read so far.
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Reaper Man
Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett (Mass Market Paperback - July 30, 2002)
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